SOFP Executive Meeting
SOFP Series Blog #7
The SOFP Executive Meeting is possibly the most important aspect of SOFP. Sales, Operations, and Financial Planning is not production planning; it is updating the business plan each month and communicating the plan so that every everyone works together and in the right direction. Do you remember this diagram for the first blog on SOFP?
The SOFP Executive Meeting is always chaired by the most senior person in the company. In a smaller company it will be the President, in divisions or groups from larger organization it will be the division or the group President. The SOFP process is scheduled months in advance and is a regular part of the monthly business management. This way everyone can make sure they are available for the process.
The SOFP Executive Meeting should be attended by as many people as is practical. The people who worked on creating the plans must be there, but it is also desirable to have other managers and supervisors there too. The purpose is to communicate a clear plan for the business for the next month, and everybody needs to hear it, and then pass it on to their own team-members. One company with 5 locations has set up the meeting using a web meeting, and this enables more than 60 employees in 5 different states to attend. Don’t expect to be able to do this successfully the first time. It will get better each month.
The SOFP Executive Meeting must be short and very strictly agenda’d. If it turns into a discussion meeting then the purpose gets lost. Most companies that have experience with SOFP set about 45-90 minutes. When you start up SOFP you will need longer time as there is a learning curve. Here’s a typical agenda:
Some people get worried that you can not get all this done in 45-90 minutes. It is true that it does take practice. But also remember that this is not brand new every time. Each monthly SOFP Executive Meeting is a follow on from the previous meeting. The time should be spent on the things that have changed and the things that have gone wrong. If the President is unhappy with one of the solutions or plans, this are not dealt with in detail at the meeting. A follow up meeting will be set up to address the problem.
Remember SOFP is quite simple, but it is difficult to implement because it represents a substantial change in the way most companies do business. Expect that it will take at least six months before the process is perfected. Be patient!