Whose Project is it Anyway?

Topics: Leadership, Management

When it comes to evaluating solutions that impact your trade investment, blurred lines of ownership between departments create a demand for C-Level guidance to ensure the necessary change management is implemented for maximum results. Because Trade Promotion Optimization affects sales, trade marketing, IT and finance, the project lead within these departments may not be aware of all the priorities of the other operating areas. As a result, even when the implementation process starts, it can easily be derailed by competing interests or miscommunication.

However, C-Level leadership can communicate project  priorities and disseminate responsibility. In other words, C-Level leadership creates the “our” amongst the calls of “mine.”

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In the current state of many CPG companies, IT feels overstretched resource wise, finance is worried that no one will adopt a new solution, sales thinks their current way is working just fine and trade promotion team is happy to continue planning/analyzing blindly on spreadsheets. Amongst this chaos are varying versions of the truth which are not conducive to optimizing results and executing successful processes.

With this in mind, there are five ways a C-level leader can step in to unite teams with a TPO solution.

Set the priority
According to a McKinsey Global Survey, “86 percent of executives say their organizations have been at best only somewhat effective at meeting the primary objective of their data and analytics programs, including more than one-quarter who say they’ve been ineffective.”

This statistic proves two things: 1) That many C-level executives want to make data-driven decision making a priority and 2) That many of those same executives find analytics a struggle to implement.

However, for such a large group of executives to face the same problem means that they are all likely lacking a fundamental piece to the puzzle. The fact of the matter is, the priority of data-driven decision making has to be clearly defined as an actionable company objective, whether that be improving the ROI of significant trade investment by a specific percentage or reducing the time spent compiling data at the end of each quarter. To fail at doing so means being unsuccessful in getting the initiative started at all.

Build the team
When sales/marketing, finance and IT teams are all on different pages, it creates competing interests that prevent plans from reaching their full, optimized potential. This then hurts the company’s overall performance. However, when an executive expresses interest and engagement in their teams’ daily processes, it breaks down communicative barriers and improves results. Furthermore, teams benefit from executives understanding the overarching premise of the solution as well. This way, they are leading teams with a knowledgeable basis to go by.

Be present
Leaders cannot lead if they aren’t there. In other words, C-level executives should make an effort to be available for meetings. This doesn’t mean attending every meeting, but sitting in when they can. Being a part of the learning and user experience will cultivate a better understanding to lead by.

In addition, allowing teams to partake in the leadership dynamic by putting them in charge of providing updates means that employees are engaged and thinking critically about decision making.

Ask hard questions
Passively letting opportunities go by not asking questions obviously affects business performance. However, asking teams hard questions encourages an open-minded thinking pattern that supplies innovation and growth and asking the vendor hard questions strengthens the partnership and clears the air of miscommunication.

For a list of questions, see our “Guide to Choosing a TPM/TPO Platform” whitepaper.

Support the decision
Once the decision to prioritize data-driven decision making is made, it cannot be left at that or else it will never take off from the ground. Staying involved is key in ensuring an analytics endeavor reaches its full potential. Furthermore, regular check-ins with the daily users of an analytics solution creates an open communication line to better understanding the business’s performance and employee performance. Most importantly, expect results.  Develop specific objectives that the project will deliver and set up quarterly meetings to evaluate the results.

As separate departments begin taking part in the same business project, the walls between teams cannot remain intact because it blocks progress. It is crucial for C-level executives to step in as active, engaged leaders to open up communication lines and prioritize analytics intiatives. Without a focused and active leader and clear priorities, a data-driven decision-making initiative will never take flight and companies will not get the results they need to keep up with data-savvy competition.

What to read next: 5 Ways CPG Companies Can Manage Change When New Technology Initiatives Ask People to Think Differently


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