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Oliver Wight EAME Blog

Staying on course: Business leadership during lockdown

20 May 2020

By Oliver Wight EAME CEO, Les Brookes

In recent weeks, many of us have enhanced our ability to work remotely through video calls and meetings - both internally and with suppliers and customers. For us at Oliver Wight, lockdown meant switching our typical face to face education and design workshops to virtual sessions where we continue to support our clients in managing business impacts and preparing for the future. Remote working has not only proved a useful way to manage and communicate with each other on a day-to-day basis, it has reinforced the importance of having robust processes and clearly defined roles in place to drive the business forward. In particular, the role of business leaders during this crisis is vital. As captains at the helm of their vast ships, leadership must ensure their organisation is kept on course, navigating past any obstacles both short and medium term causing potential disruption, whilst also providing confidence to teams working extremely hard without the same visibility.

In these unusual times, it is essential that leaders take ownership of a business process that brings together their virtual teams and allows them to share and make decisions, as well as the thinking behind them. This process will provide them with visibility of potential challenges and opportunities - both now and in the future - for the continuous realignment of the business and its people. 

As part of our recently launched COVID-19 Recovery Series, we have designed a fast-track Integrated Business Planning programme to support organisations wanting to gain integrated visibility of the future across multiple locations. Focusing on the design of an integrated planning system that supports leadership decision-making, we work with you to develop processes and systems inside of three months. The programme includes:

  • A fast diagnostic to assess your challenges
  • Focused workshops to educate your people, and design and implement IBP
  • Practical accelerated implementation plans to deliver and increase time to benefit
  • Personal coaching as you implement your action plans

Now, more than ever, organisations are realising the value of having a sustainable process through which to run the business and drive informed decision-making, not just for the short-term, but for the business’ future plans too. The process should set out levels of materiality for managers and their teams to work to, so that critical decisions flow to the executive team. The leadership team should have an integrated view of the portfolio, demand management, supply chain, and ultimately, the overall projected profit and loss statements over the full horizon (typically 24 months). It is critical to ensure that not everyone is focused on managing the short term. Whilst this, of course, remains urgent, it is vital to prioritise the overall direction of the business and its future challenges. Regardless of whether the recent impact on the business has been positive or negative, these are fundamental issues that demand input from the leadership team. 

Leadership must decide how to design their integrated business planning process to align with the global matrix and achieve monthly cadence, decision-making authority, correct views of the P&L based on ownership, horizons, and how they want to view the business roll-ups. See Figure 1 below.

Multiple markets 

Objectives set, leaders should then turn their attention to which key people will work on the integrated design of portfolio, demand, supply chain and integrated reconciliation. Their knowledge of the business will inform the creation of the IBP process and the required behaviours. Whilst IBP is the business decision-making process, it relies on behaviours around the ‘truth as we know it’ - trust in declaring gaps and decision-making based only on facts. Organisations must focus on the integration of their people, their process and to some extent, their tools; the tools themselves are not the issue, but the ability to turn the data they provide into information that feeds into decision-making. Whilst many organisations have the tools in place to run supply, produce forecasts, capture portfolio plans and pull together the latest financials, they often lack a system that can consolidate the data, and run multiple demand, supply and financial scenarios to provide an overall future view of the business. It is this integrated picture that reveals the real situation, including projected inventories, profit and loss, and changes in demand. This intelligence is most valuable in helping business leaders make informed decisions for the alignment of the business and its people in the long-term, whilst also improving short-term executional performance.

Those clients of ours who have already designed their IBP process to fit their global business matrix are finding the information they need for their monthly reviews to realign plans and deal with any performance gaps. 

For more information on our fast track IBP programme, contact [email protected] or call +44 (0)1452 397200