Managing deviation from plan

When things don't go to plan it's important to understand not only what is happening but why, and how you can intervene to improve the situation. Evolving from passive report reader to engaged analytical thinker requires well-organised data, intuitive tools and computer-aided analysis. 


How can I understand the causes of deviation from planned performance?

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. But then the greater value is often in the planning than the plan itself; an opportunity to consider alternatives, decide how to react as change (inevitably) occurs and to mitigate risk.

To react to change in a planned way, we need a plan and a detailed understanding on how and why our performance is deviating from that plan. You probably have a collection of detailed plans for performance with your major customers - from internal sales targets and service models, to extensive Joint Business Plans developed collaboratively with your customers - but how easily can you identify, understand and communicate the variations that occur?

Every business has a sales plan and monitors its sales against that plan by week. You probably break this down further, by category and customer, and compare your performance to that of your competitors, using data from the market data providers like Nielsen and IRI. This is a great way of understanding the macro picture, over the longer term, but how do you take immediate, targeted, high-impact action from this type of reporting?

Understand the root cause

What do you do when your sales don't achieve target?

You can't send categories to regions; you need to send specific products to specific depots. Competitor activity may have an impact on your sales but so does poor service, stock-outs, suboptimal distribution (too few and too many stores) and - often biggest of all - poor promotional execution.

You need to be able to monitor all products, in all major customers, in all locations, on every day in order to understand where sales are falling short (or exceeding expectations!) so that you can respond rapidly to changes in shopper demand.

Great news! SKUtrak's interactive data visualisations are built specifically to:

  • Connect sales, service and stock data and present it on the same page; view deviations from your sales plan in context and identify cause-and-effect patterns
  • Navigate from long-term category and brand trends to individual products, in specific locations on particular days; move rapidly from macro-to-micro in a few clicks to identify remedial actions
  • Compare performance over different time periods; explore years and months, down to weeks and days, not just pre-formed 4/12/52 week views
  • Examine daily patterns months in arrears; identify repeat patterns like late stock movements pre-promotion, or excess waste through over-distribution, the take action to drive the right products, to the right locations, at the right time

SKUtrak even helps to provide context that you hadn't considered through the TruDemand engine that powers our SKUtrak Professional plan. Our proprietary AI engine - TruDemand - determines probable causes of sales deviations to flag promotional and seasonal uplift, as well as downturns due to availability and cannibalisation. This additional intelligence helps you to identify actions that you can take to defend your position and course correct to meet your plan.

SKUtrak customers use actionable insights to:

  • Prompt customers for additional orders to avoid stock running low in individual depots and improve availability
  • Propose changes to product distribution, based on hard analysis of detailed customer data
  • Prevent excess waste and markdown by ensuring optimal stock levels for achieved and planned rates of sale

Atheon has shaped the way we work with retailers and opened up conversations with them. The SKUtrak platform is well structured in what we need and what we want to see.

SKUtrak Customer

Read the eBook:
Joint Business Planning

JBP eBook Preview

A Joint Business Plan (JBP) between a retailer and supplier is a way of aligning targets and trade terms for the forthcoming year. If done well, it provides a mutually agreed plan which should be beneficial to both parties.

Our eBook contains tips on Joint Business Planning & how SKUtrak can help


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