It’s planning, but not as you know it

With just 14 days to go until 2019 is upon us, it must be time to finalise the annual brand plan, right? Maybe not. Going into the new year is perhaps a perfect time to reconsider your approach to annual planning…

Why? We all know the world is constantly evolving, consumers and shoppers’ expectations are increasing, competitors are not standing still, but continue to change and adapt. So why would anyone cling to the old approach of creating a plan once a year? Of course, we still need a strategy and we still need to plan ahead to deliver brilliant consumer experiences. We just need a different way. It’s time for Dynamic Planning.

What is Dynamic Planning? 

An approach to planning that is responsive, enabling adjustment and optimization “live” in market, which better suits the reality facing marketers today. Dynamic planning is customer-centric rather than finance driven, creates rolling plans rather than annual ones, and builds in flexibility through anticipated scenarios for upsides and downsides.

What are the benefits of Dynamic Planning?

There’s evidence that being agile and responding to change is key in growing companies, with 72% of growth driving companies describing themselves as working quickly, responsively, and experimentally versus only 44% of growth ‘laggards’.

  1. Balance long term strategies with short term flexibility

    The external world is always shifting and never stays still. A fixed plan becomes obsolete as soon as it is written. Therefore, while organisations still need to be clear about their longer-term course, they also need to balance this with short term flexibility.
    An approach taken by a well-known financial services brand is to split their 18-month plan into a series of detailed 90-day activities. This makes it easier to learn from successes and mistakes, taking those learnings into the next quarter rather than waiting a year.

  2. Build in responsiveness through upfront scenario planning

    Part of the challenge to being responsive is in requiring additional discussion and sign off for any change to the agreed plan. We recommend developing different scenarios – both potential risks as well as opportunities – and including these in the approval of the dynamic plan with the approach “if this….then that” to authorise additional media spending or curtail a promotion.
    Another way to build in responsiveness is to design and enable teams with clear decision rights who can act quickly when needed. These teams will be clear on the predictable decisions they have full authority for, and things which come up unexpectedly have a clear risk threshold for what needs to be escalated outside the team. This is something PepsiCo have done successfully with their ‘slam’ teams helping them capture value in new ‘demand spaces’ for brands such as Doritos.

  3. Enable optimisation and iteration

    Dynamic planning allows continuous improvement, using analytics to fine tune and optimise the plan when “live” in market as well as iteration, which uses real learnings to make the next version of the plan better. In practice this could mean week to week optimisation of a 90-day plan based on performance. It’s an approach that does rely on having the advanced analytics capabilities to collect, integrate and maintain the highest levels of data integrity.

Are you doing Dynamic Planning?

When was the last time you looked at your organisation’s approach to planning? Could it do with a refresh before the next cycle of “annual planning” approaches? Make it your new year’s resolution to embrace Dynamic Planning.

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