When a Sprint Becomes a Marathon

Dirk Liebich

Powerful planning enabled through aggregator platform

Article Series 1 of 3

It almost always starts with some quick successes and the belief that easy repetition is all it takes to manifest the next best thing. What usually follows is a time of moderate to severe struggle and eventually failure, unless it becomes clear: this sprint is actually a marathon. Successful businesses are created in the long run and require thoughtful planning and reliable execution to enable sustainable profit margins. This series of articles is going to show what to look out for, to avoid pitfalls on the way to success.

The ingredients for success

Today's highly competitive online marketplace users, like their providers (and their creditors), create an extreme amount of pressure on the business, as the availability and delivery of any product is expected to be on-demand. Furthermore, providers like Amazon demand outstanding service levels, low inventory levels and competitive pricing for any business to win the Buy Box

The combination of such requirements mandates not only highly automated business processes, but also recurrent and timely data feeds. The latter must be cleansed and aligned with all perspectives essential to the business. This will allow for the underlying decision making processes to be effective, and crucial performance monitoring over time. Let’s break down the key areas of a meaningful planning structure.

Without a proper foundation, automated, high-performance planning is not possible or at best, becomes extremely time consuming, and dynamic performance fluctuates over time. It will put enormous pressure on your organization and team, so it’s best to stay ahead of it by putting the right means in place.

The stony road ahead of you

It often appears a daunting task with not enough clarity on what to solve for, so it’s understandable that organizations often stick to the proven or familiar means and methods. Let us assure you, if you take new terrain step by step, it not only becomes easier, but the improvements will be multifold. 

Today's business landscape is full of solution offerings, small and large, and the promise is almost always too good to be true. 

So, how to best go about choosing solutions? 

How about by acknowledging that there simply is no free lunch. There is no tool or solution in the world that out of the box will or can do it all for you. 

Instead, what you will find (once you are clear on what you need and when you need it) are solid planning solutions and industry best practice processes, utilized by some of the most successful companies in the world. Why not start there?

Start by defining and establishing the foundational building blocks for your future planning by putting the essential planning structure in place. Make sure all essential data is unified into a single repository, timely and reliably. Enhance this structure over time, once the team is familiar with it and it has proven its worth to the organization. Remove parts that are not used or not helpful and add new insights as they become available. 

Alternatively, decide for a specialized Enterprise Resource Planning System such as NetSuite, Sage Intacct, Acumatica, SAP ERP, SAP Business One, Bloomerang, Epicor ERP, or Microsoft Dynamics NAV, amongst others, and start with the clarity to have processes and data structure closely aligned from the beginning. While this is often the most complete solution, it is usually not the most agile, as it requires significant implementation and training and still sometimes proves too rigid for certain businesses.

Whatever your path, the Xapix Enterprise AI platform provides the flexibility to scale over time and also enables quick adjustments by team members instead of developers. It supports starting with only the planning structure or alternatively comes with a direct connection into one of the world's leading ERP systems, NetSuite. In addition it allows for the application of powerful AI and predictive analytics, to drive your business performance.

Elevate the level of sophistication

At this point in time you either are utilizing a full fledged planning system or at the minimum have a reliable planning structure and a team that understands what’s there, why and how to use it. 

This is a good time to take it to the next level by implementing advanced KPIs and wrap all of it into a recurring planning cadence for organizational alignment  - we are going Sales and Operations Planning. Once that has been established, data can be further enriched and is now ready to be introduced to advanced and predictive analytics, i.e. forecasting, trend spotting, inventory calculations and more.  

The second article of this series will detail Sales and Operations Planning Practice and why a high quality demand forecast is crucial to your bottom line …

About the author

Dirk is a successful serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience, driving digital transformation through strategic and technical leadership; including helping Fortune 50 and 100 companies across a broad array of industries deploy planning capabilities to significantly improve business performance.

He has held various senior leadership positions with companies that pioneered innovations in business planning technology, and delivered highly-respected portfolio, demand and supply chain, planning and management consulting services. He is widely respected as a thought leader around Digital Transformation, a frequent guest author, and book co-author and speaker.