How to Make an S&OP Process That Works and Delivers Brilliant Results


by Greg West, Farthing West Chief Brilliance Officer

A common theme across successful businesses is that they achieve brilliant results through the use of brilliant processes.  I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

However, what is surprising is that many businesses don’t know how to design brilliant processes.  The result is that they continue to deal with the poor outcomes from poorly designed processes and spend their time firefighting.

Learning how to design brilliant process is a key step towards aligning yourself to a fundamental rule of business.  You need to work on you inputs if you want to achieve great outcomes.

Before I unpack the recipe for designing a process that works and delivers brilliant results, let us reflect on what is meant by the word “process”.  It is a widely used term.  But what is a process?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a process as “a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result”. A simple definition, but a powerful concept to get your mind around.

What are the series of actions that you take in order to achieve a brilliant result? If you want to continually achieve brilliant results (the outcome you want) you need to ensure that the business continually adheres to these series of actions (the inputs) that deliver these results.  This means that the input actions need to be standardized and continually improved as you discover better ways to work.

So what is the recipe for designing a process, be it S&OP or something else, that delivers brilliant result?

  • Processes need to be designed to cover much more than just the content of work. They must be designed with content, sequence, timing and outcomes clearly specified. It is not good enough to just specify content.  You must specify the sequence in which the steps will be taken, the timing required for each step and the outcomes that are expected.
  • Designing an S&OP process that works and delivers brilliant results requires discipline. This means that individual processes that underpin S&OP need to be standardised.
  • Teach you people to look for opportunities to eliminate wasteful effort. Look at how the intelligent application of technology can promote meaning making and eliminate unproductive work.
  • Continually focus on opportunities to improve the process. This means you must audit compliance to the standard and you must devote time to reflecting on what has worked well and what can be improved.

Based on this reflection the standards must now be changed.  This means changing the content, the sequence, the timing and indeed the outcomes.

When you train your people to focus on designing brilliant processes you get brilliant results.