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End of Recession Integrated Business Planning
Home Business Management
By: Rick Burris Email Article
Word Count: 1156 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


The immediate response to surviving an economic downturn involves battening down the hatches and simply weathering the impending storm, cutting whatever is necessary to make it through the chaos. Marketing usually falls to the wayside, workers are cut, and prime opportunities to position your company as a customer service or market leader pass by unnoticed.

You may be hearing some of the most promising news that's come along in months, however. Yes, the bleak outlook that companies had just a few months ago is transforming into a positive, though cautious, attitude. While economic experts have noted a five percent growth in the economy, your segment may not fall within one of these industries. Regardless of whether your industry is included or not, Integrated Business Planning or Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) remains a necessity not only to surviving an economic downturn but also succeeding, both now and in the future.

One of the few perks of a recession is that it eliminates underperforming players, practically wiping the slate clean for your company, helping it to gain a better foothold in the market, and effectively evaluate business initiatives and goals. This downtime is key to winning customers and ensuring you have systems robust enough to weather any other potential storm along the way. With a well-positioned Integrated Business Planning, or Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process in place, flare-ups can be dealt with immediately, and issues can be managed without constant monitoring. Not only are short-term solutions presented, but long-term tools for surviving another economic downturn are addressed as well.

Key Points to Remaining Successful

In terms of weathering this or any other recession, management is the glue that keeps the company together. When management spends excessive amounts of time addressing daily issues rather than focusing on the big picture, however, a lapse in meeting market and customer demand occurs.

With so many factors in play, what can management do to ensure the company beats the competition and identifies ways to deal with the eventual uptick in business? Following are three key points to remaining successful:

1. One way to weather the storm is to make preparations that are specific to your business. Luxury items, for instance, are taking longer to rebound in the market; and while people are finally cracking open their wallets, these funds are usually spent on lower-priced items. How has the recession affected long-term consumer expectations? Part of Integrated Business Planning involves an in-depth evaluation of your business model, including asking:

  • What are our differentiators? Should they be streamlined to meet the changing business landscape?
  • Why do we sell this product? Are we known for our prices? Are we fooling ourselves if we think we can make money on this particular item?
  • What are our strengths? Do we focus on higher-quality products with lower prices?
Point blank, to succeed, you must always emphasize your strengths - even though the easiest answer may not be the best solution to your problem. The only way to gain an accurate picture of your current and future situation is to assess your strengths and weaknesses honestly and identify core competencies that set you apart from the crowd.

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Rick C. Burris is a principal and senior executive for Oliver Wight Americas, a global integrated business planning firm that provides education and training on sales and operations planning. He has over 30 years of executive, management, and process experience in diverse industries. He earned his BS in Physics, with a minor in Economics, and has participated in Executive Programs at UCLA, MIT, and the Covey Leadership Program.

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