Closing the Strategy-Execution Gap in the CPG Operating Environment

Years ago, the complexity of the CPG operating environment was almost overwhelming. Business owners and managers had to serve hundreds of accounts, with large numbers of brands and packages.

The marketplace was evolving and uncertain.

Back in the 90’s, if you are old enough to remember those days, topics such as process improvement, KOI (Key Operating Indicators), and category management were concepts. We could speak about these topics and discuss the vision of their value but management lacked all the needed information and tools to execute these strategies effectively and consistently in the market and drive profitable growth.

There is a significant difference or gap between knowing about business management and “doing” it!

And beyond getting the job done, years ago management lived with the idea that their role was to control the organization and drive conformity with a set of rules.

But we know now that is all BS.

Control of employees by management is out.

Empowering every level of management with the right information so they can rapidly see what is happening in every single account, identify problems, make changes, and monitor the results of those decisions is now the standard.

Is there a good reason not to know?

In this operating environment, the answer is NO!

But changing your operational culture from one of control and fear to one that is driven by accessible market information, that enables accountability and rewards for measurable results, is not easy.

Management must be the first to change their mindset. Those managers unprepared to move from control to empowerment, who find themselves constantly reverting to past domination and control tactics must be prepared to adapt and change or leave.

Next management must harness the power of information and data that is readily available in today’s marketplace.

Being clear about what types of information is needed for a frontline manager to monitor all account level activities is critical. Then, a technology solution that will allow the market level information to be accessed, in seconds not days, must be embraced.

Waiting for IT to furnish monthly KOIs is out as a standard.

With the right technology solutions in place, leaders must train in the use of the tools and then get out of the way.

Instead of upper management wondering, “What is he thinking?”  The right market analytics tool will allow management to observe how street level managers are making account level decisions. The results can be observed and measured. This is ultimate empowerment.

There is truly no reason not to know what is going on in the trade.

If you lack the technology solutions and data resources that allow you to segment your market using demographics, seeing exactly which accounts consistently have out of stocks that contain your best performing SKUs, monitoring and removing SKUs that are taking up space and impacting sales, and the ability to track the results of discounts and trade spending; then, you are behind the curve.

Get out of the “Comfort Zone” of doing what worked in the past and move confidently into the future with management tools that will drive consistent and profitable growth. It is possible!

Karl Edmunds

About the Author

Karl Edmunds
Vice President, Salient Management Company

is a nationally recognized business leader and author with more than 20 years of experience working with suppliers, distributors, and retailers in the CPG industry. His focus is aligning technical solutions with sales, marketing, and organizational needs to drive long-term profitable growth.

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