top of page
  • Writer's pictureNeil James

3 Key Capabilities for IBP Deployment Leaders

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

As I have described in various blog posts, the deployment or development of Integrated Business Planning (IBP) is challenging. Research continues to show that only 25-30% of IBP projects achieve their goals. There is no shortage of published advice on the design of IBP (a Google search for IBP, or its forerunner S&OP, yields many million hits). Despite this, IBP deployment remains a major challenge and this is due to the complex, cross-functional nature of IBP and the behavioural change it demands at all levels in the business.

For this reason, it is important for organisations to be clear on the key capabilities for IBP deployment leaders and how best to support them to achieve success for the enterprise. Deployment leads are often selected based on their functional speciality or current line role (typically within the supply chain function) but given the specific challenges of leading IBP adoption, this tends to be sub-optimal. My experience as a global deployment lead for IBP in GlaxoSmithKline (a $30+ billion turnover pharmaceutical business) suggests that 3 capabilities are required;

· Creating a clear and practical vision

· Engaging and influencing across the business

· Applying change management practices

This article provides a short overview of each of these capabilities and future blogs will address more detailed guidance on ways to support IBP leads (and their cross-functional partners) to develop and apply the critical capabilities to enable high-performing IBP.

1. Creating a clear and practical vision

A critical learning from IBP projects is that setting gold-standard, high-maturity IBP as the target end-state is not necessarily appropriate. It is crucial that the business requirement and benefits to be delivered by IBP are first identified and these should be the drivers for targeting the goals for IBP ways of working rather than theoretical benchmarks.

In order to identify clearly these business requirements, the IBP lead must have the capability to understand the breadth of the company context – incorporating strategy, key business drivers, challenges and outlook. Once this context is understood, both qualitatively and in terms of tangible performance measures, then the practical application of IBP can be devised. It is vital that the specific benefits of IBP are directly linked to the key business drivers along with a clear and compelling description for how these business benefits are derived.

Given the tendency for IBP project leads to be selected due to their functional specialism, it is not surprising that their background and development experiences often do not support such a broad enterprise view and envisioning skills. It is therefore important to include this requirement in both the selection and support of deployment leads.

2. Engaging and influencing across the business

IBP is fundamentally a cross-functional enterprise planning approach that demands strong engagement and ongoing participation from across the business. As outlined above, this means that the vision for IBP must be presented in terms of key business drivers, but IBP must also engage key stakeholders from the supply chain, commercial and finance functions in particular. In creating an enterprise approach to IBP, a deployment lead therefore needs to understand the drivers, culture and core processes across these teams. This allows them to position IBP ways of working within each participating function and to clearly describe the tangible and practical benefits of the process in terms that engage and inspire cross-functional support. It is also important for IBP deployment leads to engage senior leaders, as senior management advocacy and sponsorship is a key success factor for any IBP adoption or enhancement programme.

The capability to engage and influence across the business is clearly built on this knowledge and understanding of the overall enterprise context and the various functional contributions to it. However, this must be leveraged with a strong insight into approaches to communication and influencing and their practical execution. For example, adoption of simple communication frameworks and tools to identify communication objectives, key audiences and optimal channels enable the deployment lead to manage project communication at a range of levels (from 1:1s with key stakeholders to ‘broadcast’ messages to the wider business) in order to support deployment objectives.

The deployment lead can be supported in these areas by specific support from communications professionals, but it is important to note that communication cannot be effectively managed as an ‘add-on’ but must be built into the mindsets and behaviours of the project team. For this reason, it is important that the programme lead has a clear grasp of the key principles and the orientation to embrace the contribution of strong communication practices to project success.

3. Applying change management practices

As described above, a critical challenge of IBP deployment is the complex, cross-functional nature of the process and the behavioural change it requires across the business. IBP also challenges existing norms of collaboration, information-sharing and decision-making. For all these reasons, IBP deployment programmes must incorporate sound change management approaches.

A change management methodology should be selected which reflects both the nature of the company context and the journey required in the business to adopt and sustain new ways of working. The IBP deployment lead requires a strong and pragmatic understanding of the change approaches available (and as in communications, support from a change management professional is valuable). A key capability for the deployment lead is the application of these change frameworks both to optimise the strategy for change but also to practically deliver quick wins, share success stories and maintain enterprise engagement in the change programme. The execution of change tools also enables the deployment lead to build strong foundations for embedding change, including the handover of the new IBP process to ‘business as usual’ leadership and the establishment of sustainability and continuous improvement practices.

A key deliverable in change planning for the deployment lead is a clear roadmap which summarises the practical steps towards the IBP goal, reflecting the contributions by each function, outlining the business benefits delivered at each stage and therefore building confidence in the ability of the collective organisation to deliver real-world value through the deployment programme. This capability to create a pragmatic and accessible roadmap built up from a detailed understanding of communications and change methodologies is a key capability for the deployment lead.


IBP deployment leaders are often selected on the basis of their functional background and expertise – however adoption of IBP demands a range of specific capabilities which equip a deployment lead to drive the required change across the breadth of the business. These key capabilities include;

· Creating a clear and practical vision

· Engaging and influencing across the business

· Applying change management practices

These capabilities should be key considerations when selecting candidates for IBP deployment leadership but also in supporting them through the course of the adoption programme.

Future blog articles in this series will explore further detail in each of these areas and how deployment leads can be supported to deliver impactful and high-performing enterprise IBP.

(Images courtesy of - yanalya, studiogstock, & jannoon028)

54 views0 comments


bottom of page