Todd Ferguson, business advisor at Oliver Wight Americas, explains the concept of integrated tactical planning, and how it can put a stop to the need for “firefighting,” and help executives focus on long-term strategizing.
Integrated tactical planning (ITP) is a business process, conducted weekly, that enables the near-term execution of plans. The idea, says Ferguson, is to take forecasts derived from sales and operations planning (S&OP) and integrated business planning (IBP) for the next six months, and apply them to the next quarter. The result is an aligned plan that eliminates the need for “firefighting” in response to sudden changes in demand, and “keeps executives out of the weeds.”
Such alignment of long- and short-term plans becomes ever more critical as organizations confront changes in an uncertain business environment, Ferguson says. It’s also an essential means of coping with shrinking planning windows and effectively turning planning into execution, to address actual demand patterns.
ITP “is focused on objectives,” Ferguson adds, “on aligning detail in the near term to make sure organizations have the confidence to deliver to customers.”
The process enables the financialization of volume-based plans — an important capability today, given the pressing need of companies to meet their quarterly numbers, and the growing requirement to control logistics costs in the short term.
In addition, ITP helps companies to boost productivity, and ensure that they have the right people and resources in place to do the job as efficiently as possible. “Tactical planning shows where the big rocks are that you need to think about,” Ferguson says.
Technology, especially artificial intelligence, plays a strong role in today’s planning and execution processes, but there’s still a need for people to meet, in order to ensure that the plan is properly implemented. Tactical planning, however, ensures that such meetings are productive and based on clear accountability of roles. “It tightens up the agenda,” Ferguson says.
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