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Build Issues Not Spreadsheets



In most manufacturing environments, planners in supply chain and manufacturing are endlessly busy churning out excel spreadsheets with planned dates for orders and materials. In most cases, the monthly planning exercise end with a complex spreadsheet which has too many data but very little "information" on how "good" the plan is compared to previous months plans and what have been the trade offs which have been considered in finalising the plan.


One of the best way to define Planning is that "Planning is an Issue building Science" which sets the expectation from planning as "to build issues and challenges which will be faced by the company if a particular order or a particular level of service is to be achieved"

Unfortunately, in most companies one can see planners involved in a very linear exercise which takes demand information and balances that with capacity available to finalise the month plan while managing the constraints. Even though the planner uses lot of tacit knowledge of constraints in optimising the plan and managing the trade offs, there is no way for other stakeholders to gauge the "Strength" or the "Goodness" of the plan or if all constraints have been fully considered and optimised


To help explain the efficacy of the plans developed, planner can attempt the following

a) Establish the "Goodness" Scorecard: develop KPI's and a Goodness Scorecard which can reflect the strength of the plan. The planning team needs to be creative in defining these KPI's and can develop them on common pain points of the sales/manufacturing team to highlight how well their concerns have been addressed in the current plan

b) Develop scenarios and versions of the plan: though this may involve extra work, but its very important to highlight the potential gain/loss while choosing to optimise one constraint/parameter over another while finalising the plan. It will be ideal also to link the plan to financials and clearly highlight the differential between the options

c) Own the Goodness: often the planning team ends up helplessly watching the deviations and changes in the plan after all the hard work has been done. Planning team needs to take the hot seat and really drive the achievement of the plan even if it means overrule urgencies created by stakeholder.


While some of the above may be easier said than done, for planners to move from just spending time on spreadsheets to building & framing issues that impact the customers, financials & operations of the company.


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