If you are a demand planner or working in a supply chain team in an organization, there is good probability that you may be frequently feeling the need for a collaborative business planning. Coming from a cricket-loving nation, we thought of attempting the analogy of the concept to this gentleman’s game that needs great deal of collaboration between players of different competencies.
The need for collaboration
Cricket is one of the most complex games in terms of rules and number of different competencies required within the team to win the game. Each function is specialized be it batsmen, bowlers, keeper, fielding positions, coach, statisticians, physiotherapists, umpire etc. Every one plays equally important part to galvanize the team and win the game. In this sense it is very similar to complex business set up with different specialized functions working towards a unified goal.
Similarly in business planning requires co-ordination between different functions like sales, marketing, supply chain, operations, finance etc. Just like cricket, each function is specialized and has a contribution to make in the process. Unfortunately, many planning processes are pseudo and lack a collaborative approach which requires participation and team work.
Once the team knows the target required to win the game, the captain and the coach works on the plan to achieve it. If they are a batting side then the order of the batsmen to play, pace of scoring, the bowlers to attack etc are planned. If they are a bowling team then the order and type of bowlers, field placements, weakness of batsmen among other things are also discussed and planned.
In business this can be compared to an annual plan once the target has been decided. The monthly plan, product mix, geo contribution, events etc are discussed to achieve that target.
Once the match starts things obviously do not always work as per the plan. The opposition may do better than expected or vice a versa. Depending on the circumstances the team’s strategy changes to make sure that the win is still at sight. The batsmen may try to take risks and accelerate the pace to bring down the required run rate, a hard-hitting batsman may be sent out to bat out of his turn, bowlers may try to curtail the pace with aggressive field and deliveries. Basically, the team is adapting to the changing conditions in a way that their end goal is still in sight and achievable.
Business planning is also all about being agile and adapting to the changing circumstances in such a way that business objectives are in sight and achievable to the extent possible. The market may not react as we expected or at times it could be external conditions such as competition activity or the government policies. The business function responds to such changes like a team to ensure that the targets are least effected. The marketing team may plan a promotion activity to shape the demand, the sales team may run an aggressive campaign for a certain section of customers or rejig the sales team. Supply chain and operations work towards optimizing the material flow to save costs and avoid inventory build up.
Growing role of business intelligence and analytics
Its important to note the role played by the statisticians and analytics in the modern-day game. With loads of data being captured in every game the role of big data analytics is immense in strategizing the wins of the team. Every move and every situation is analyzed and used as an input in the strategy. Its amazing to know that with the help of data one can actually predict the score of an individual player or the way he may get out.
It holds true for business planning as well. The function is slowly but surly moving towards more of a strategic function than just being spreadsheet oriented monthly task. The data analytics is providing planners a potent tool to help the business in understanding the customer and strategizing better to be ahead in the game. With the help of data analytics, it is possible to accurately predict when the customer is going to buy or even when will he stop buying. Knowing this is of great value to the organization as it is possible to change this behavior by being preemptive and thus shape your demand better.
While the adoption of the statistical methods and business intelligence tools is still low and slow in business planning across the board, it is only inevitable. Organizations that adopt it earlier shall definitely reap early mover competitive benefits.
So while the teams from across the globe fight it out for the Champions Trophy in England, with their planning strategy the business do the same in the last month of this quarter. May the best and the most agile team win!