10 Steps to a World-Class Inventory Planning Team

Episode 4 - The PlanningPosts Podcast

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The demand planning profession has evolved more than any other department in the retail and wholesale world.

Inventory teams that used to rely on their green bar report and a solar-powered calculator now have demand planning systems and processes that can transcend the financial picture of their organization.

In today’s podcast, PlanningPosts talks with Rod Daugherty, VP of Product Strategy at Blue Ridge (left), and Dan Craddock, supply chain planning evangelist (right). They provide a simple, 10-step framework to get your demand planning team primed for success.

Listen to the podcast or watch the video tutorial available from this discussion.

Episode 4 – Show Notes

We often call it the 10% / 30% question. You want to build and position a team to get every dollar!

Q: So does the title, 10 Steps suggest there is a formula for success?

A: Yes, there is a formula!

Q: I know you will cover each one, but can you describe the overall framework of the 10 Steps? Any surprising components?

Q: So get us started. What is Number 1?

D: Shares why it is critical that top management positions their system as a Profit Accelerator, and not just software package #12.

R: Open-mic opportunity: Shares from Blue Ridge customer experiences with demand planning tools.

Q: So how do you build on that foundation? You have positioned the demand planning system as that secret weapon for profit….Now what?

1 – World-class replenishment CULTURE

D: We cheat a little here and split hiring into Points 2 & 3 because is it so critical. Hiring is really the most important thing inventory planning professionals do.

2 – Brand Your Team

3 – Recruit the right talent

D: We will talk about recruiting great talent. But you can’t start there. First you have to give your inventory team and the position a great identity. Brand your inventory team! Here is a question to challenge you: “Is the position a Career Destination?”

Rod, how have you seen this aspect of our profession improving… and what are some of your favorite titles for the Inventory Department and the Inventory Management Positions?

R:    Open-mic opportunity: [Rod shares]

Q:    Todd guides us both to share our favorite Titles of Department and Positions

D:    [Dan shares favorites, also…]

It’s time to move to this: INVENTORY ANALYST, INVENTORY PLANNING, INVENTORY INVESTMENT MGR

Instead of this: PURCHASING, RE-BUYER,  PROCUREMENT INVENTORY CONTROL

R: Rod shares his preferences and favorite titles of Department and Positions.

Q: So you just transformed the identity of the inventory management department… how do you take advantage of that in recruiting?

D: Todd, if we do a great job there… Now we can go find ‘Business Owners’ to manage our complex inventories. Dan asks Rod if any other position has more influence over the Income Statement.

R: No; Rod elaborates.

Q: Tell us about the new Hiring Assessment for Inventory Professionals

D:    Dan describes the importance of a demand planning system.

R: Open-mic opportunity: The value of getting it right the first time is…

Q: I’m looking at this diagram and #4 is the largest block in the picture; why?

4 – Champion 

D: Absolutely! The Champion Position [Dan introduces the role of the Champion].

D: Dan continues to describe the role and shares that he remembers Rod as part of THE original All-Star Champion Team at Payless. Much of what is still in place today came from the pioneering of Rod and his team there.

R: Describes their unique talent and roles and why there was no question that dramatic success would follow.

Q: Dan, the Champion’s Camp continues again starting this fall… will you share a few points?

D: Will do

Champions’ and Inventory Leaders Camp (fall 2019)

Q: Now the next ones look like they are in groups. Do you want to take them together?

5 – Team develop / preparation

6 – Blue chip practice / execution

D: Yes, let’s start with Preparing for Success & Executing for Success

D: Rod, let’s talk about these two areas.

Development means ongoing learning for advanced understanding & even Masters level of your solution. Dan then describes a past Survey of Blue Chip Execution.

Q: Dan, you quoted someone from the community recently…

D: Yes, very challenging question. A real eye-opener.

“IF YOUR COMPANY GROWS 10% THIS YEAR, YOU WILL NEED TO GROW AT LEAST 10% JUST TO KEEP UP.” – Paul Rose, Henry Schein Sr. VP of Supply Chain

Q: Okay, we are headed down the home stretch.   7 & 8???

D: Yes, two of my favorites… Far from ordinary…

7 – Communication strategy (exposure) & Team development (preparation)

8 – Inventory analytics (improve)

D: I will take # 7

A true Strategy with Communication. Dan talks about moving from Defense to Offense and ways to do it.

R: Rod shares the importance of supply chain Analytics to today’s inventory management teams and the breakthroughs.

Q: How have you seen today’s teams change based on Analytics?

D: Dan shares the new Period End – Business Owner approach

R: Open-mic opportunity

Q: So I see a final block on top that looks like the Top-down cover?

D: Yes, that is creating a Financial Atmosphere in everything we do….

9 – Financial Atmosphere

R: Open-mic opportunity:

“Selling generates revenue, while Buying generates profit.”

D & R: Elaborate.

Q: So… I’m looking and I don’t see a #10??

D: Yes and that’s the problem! Too many companies don’t take time to acknowledge and celebrate results! Rod, you and your team at Payless were very good about this. What steps did you take?

“Our 26% Inventory Reduction has been re-invested into more aggressive deal buys, leading to a 1% point Net Profit improvement. Our 1.2% Service Improvement has inspired a new customer excellence campaign, receiving high praise from our sales team and peak confidence with customer service reps.”

R: Yep………………………

So 10 is… Publish & celebrate results!

Q: So they buy-in… they take the steps, and become strong at each area. What is the reward that awaits them?

D & R: Several things. Profit boost, Out of the Bank, Acquisitions, etc… and

TEAM IDENTITY!

Q: Final Suggestions?

D & R: Establish your starting grades for each area and which need to be addressed first. [Dan and Rod offer ideas].

Related: 7 Areas Where Inventory Leaders Can Up Their Game