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  • Ed Lawson

Making more of your planning tool

Are you still working on excel spreadsheets? Or have a planning tool but your planners end up working off system? It's a common challenge - so we ran a discussion with a handful of businesses to discuss how to make the case for better a better system, but more squarely, how to implement, embed and sustain adherence to good planning process. There were many common pain points, but lots of agreement on what makes good practice. We were pleased to involve experts Jim Houghton and Ben Jansen Van Juuren of Olivehorse Consultants for this discussion.

Key Points & Advice Takeaways

  • Too often, planners only receive transactional process training - that’s not suitable for planners. As a planner you need to fully understand how the system is generating your plan. Olivehorse sees the same planning issues regardless of the technology.

  • Over time if the knowledge is not embedded, and planners change - the benefits quickly fade away.

  • Support for the business process needs to be robust. If discipline is not there - lots of issues ‘roll downhill’ into the planning environment. Then extra demands can be placed on planners - not all of them should have been placed upon them.

  • Off system planning: when someone is off for a week or a day - we can’t tell what logic they’ve used.

  • In big organisations - if one person is not using the system - eg a safety stock setting - you can’t be sure the same rules are being applied by all.

  • The SYSTEMS facilitate ways of working: PEOPLE deliver ways of working. We should spend as much time on mindset and TRUST in the system. It’s much easier to involve the users at the outset - so they understand the ‘why’.

  • For new systems - you’re moving a person with expertise to being a novice - so they go outside the system to solve problems.

  • A lot of people don’t understand the basics of what planning is - so need to educate them.

  • Olivehorse has found there needs to be an ‘embed and sustain’ approach - rather than ‘implement and walk away’.

  • Olivehorse recommends having superusers - get them to champion it - they have some pride in it and have a vested interest in successful use of the system.

  • Systems language can be a blocker. If you’ve developed solutions that don’t address the challenges your planners have or take into account the constraints - you will find they quickly go off system.

  • When doing design phase - make sure personalities are right - if people get disheartened you lose the room very quickly.

  • Buy in: you will need top level sponsorship - but it’s a pincer - the users need to push too. Can’t be just top down.

  • Data quality: it is helpful to have a CofE or have a person monitoring data quality with automated alerts.

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