Trade Promotion System Implementation: The Challenges
Managing and implementing trade promotions involves many departments – typically, sales, marketing, field sales, finance, and supply chain – which means processes get complex. Adopting a new trade promotions management (TPM) or trade promotions optimization (TPO) platform can be a powerful catalyst for change, but it’s critical to address the existing process and people while implementing a new solution. This is important not only to successfully roll out an integrated platform, but also to ensure that the change is embraced by the user community.
Consumer packaged goods companies face significant challenges when it comes to the implementation of trade promotion management, optimization, and pricing modeling solutions. These range from scope creep, functional complexities, low adherence to best practice, to-be process design issues, and inadequate user adoption and confidence.
A well-structured, tested, and exhaustive approach to each nuance of TPM projects can help companies overcome the trade promotions challenge.
Lessons from Wipro Promax’s Real-world Experiences
It’s a given that CPG companies invest substantial funds in TPM, but there can be many drivers behind their promotional decisions. Are they eager to increase profitability? Grow sales volume? Are they looking back to understand which promotions worked and which didn’t?
Our experience with dozens of implementations of our TPx solution, Promax, has provided some clear insights into successful implementations.
Be clear. It’s important that the team driving the project (typically, the Sales & Marketing and Commercial Finance departments) share a clear vision of the goals and objectives with all end-users of the TPx system. The absence of a strong business case based on an established set of core needs may brand the project as an unnecessary distraction.
Share responsibility. Believing that the implementer is solely responsible for all project activities or underestimating the required efforts from the client’s own resources can undermine success. There’s a strong correlation between how involved the client SMEs are with the rollout and the eventual adoption of the system and best practices.
Be open to change. A successful TPx transformation will involve not just deploying a TPx system but will also require changes in processes and ways of working for users. It is important to identify immovable business processes and be open to incorporate best practices in line with the TPx tool to get the most from a transformation.
The Wipro Promax Way
Wipro Promax has helped clients around the world leverage a core set of principles to guide their implementations. These principles form the basic tenets to our own approach of Promax implementations and have benefited customers across geographies in minimizing risks associated with a TPx transformation:
- Crawl-Walk-Run. Building strong foundations is inarguably the most vital principle yet is still overlooked by many project teams. In the quest to build a future-proof system, it is important to realize that the velocity of deploying incremental and advanced capabilities must account for the limiting factors including adoption and acceptance of change.
Project sponsors and executors need to set realistic goals and establish at the onset the answer to questions such as:
1. What is the priority of capabilities?
2. How much functionality is required to meet must have, should have and could have needs?
3. What will be required in terms of data and process changes to enable those capabilities in the system?
4. When do we realistically need the capabilities?
Based on the answers to the above, a phased deployment plan is established with each subsequent phase starting only when the previous phase has met its deliverable and is stable.
- Be Flexible. In spite of the best efforts to follow successful templates, unique needs and challenges will arise in every deployment. It is with this realization that differences can be celebrated.
We have learnt that the best approach is the one which leaves room for change. TPx transformations are complex not only because of the area of influence of the software but also because every organisation has processes that serve their unique needs and therefore (typically) need to remain. Best practices are developed as a general set of guidelines and leave room for process uniqueness themselves.
The vision of the project should always be to achieve “real, measurable, and true positive transformation” against deploying a successful template which meets all best practice guidelines.
- Geo familiarity. It is imperative to have the right mix of resources in the team. Project sponsors must consider geo familiarity of implementing resources as a key deciding factor while selecting an implementation partner as well as internal SMEs to participate in the project.
It is not enough to be a TPx expert; it’s also critical to be able to recognize and anticipate geographical requirements. While remote working certainly allows cost optimizations, a cost benefit analysis will show that local presence and familiarity of key resources (typically business, functional, and design) is directly proportional to the success of the project. A localized workforce ensures we understand most challenges before they present themselves and can understand newer propositions quickly and respond better.
- Empower to transform. The final core principle is that the project team has to own the transformation as well as than the implementation. They have to believe that they are responsible for guiding the organisation on the path of a “frictionless” trade promotion experience which includes the application, processes, and adoption.
Furthermore, the team needs to be empowered enough to act as change agents and executive sponsors have to lend their full support to the task of effecting the vision of the project.
Companies in any sector and of any size can leverage Wipro Promax to ensure a successful TPM deployments. For example, a British personal care company had an ERP upgrade project running in parallel that required Promax timelines to be in line with project milestones. The projects had very different natures and stark contrasts with respect to perceived impacts. The customer’s ability to draw unambiguous timelines, clear requirements, and provide the right resources complemented the agile approach of the deployment team. The modular nature of the Promax software along with the ease of configuration helped meet the project objectives in time and with almost zero divergence.
For a major Australian beer producer, TPO capabilities were deployed with TPM in a way that reflected our flexibility principle. Our evaluation showed that the client’s readiness to aim high was possible and in the best interest of their business. With two parallel tracks for the project, one each for TPM and TPO, the client attained the objective of a truly intuitive and intelligent way of planning promotions in record time. Promax consultants collaborated with client teams at every level to effect the change in the shortest timeframe.
And for a global personal care company where the TPx transformation was a top priority. the deployment team of Promax consultants and client SMEs was empowered to manage and plan the entire stakeholder management, user engagement, and overall communication regarding the transformation across the organization, ensuring that all stakeholders shared a common agenda, and that user collaboration was at the core of every decision taken during the implementation
As Jay Samit, the author of Disrupt You! said, “The best idea is only going to be as good as its implementation.” Companies can get much more effectiveness and functionality from their TPx systems by paying attention to the challenges of implementation.