New Year’s Resolution: Get more from your existing TPM solution.

If you’re like many forward-thinking CPG companies, you have a TPM solution.  You realize that you can’t manage millions in trade promotion spending with Excel.  Your TPM solution has been installed, integrated to your ERP, and has been in live production so long that you’ve forgotten the challenges getting it implemented.  The excitement of a new TPM solution has worn off, and everything is in a steady-state.  If you feel there’s more value waiting to be realized, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are we using all the TPM software’s functionality to manage the complete life cycle of trade promotions?
  • Are any TPM workflows or other critical activities being done outside your TPM solution and ERP?
  • Do you have ongoing complaints from TPM users to turn off the system and go back to Excel?
  • Do you have any double data entry within the TPM life-cycle workflow?
  • Have your trade promotion workflows become confusing and more complicated, or more simplified and easier to execute?
  • Do you have these basic TPM features?
    • Real-time visibility and work-flow controls over trade promotion planning
    • Annual and quarterly budgeting that’s integrated with promotion planning
    • Financial accounting, including planned vs. actual vs. latest estimate vs. incurred liability vs. net liability?
    • Ability to compare individual event results, including planned vs actual, and against KPI benchmarks.
  • Have you documented a return-on-investment that shows you returned many times the cost of the TPM solution back to the organization?

If you answered NO to any of the above questions, your organization can get more value from your existing TPM software with the following activities:

New Year’s TPM Resolutions:

  • Keep pushing for innovation and re-engineering: If you weren’t sleeping in your high school chemistry class, you may recall the concept of entrophy.   One definition of entrophy from Webster defines this as ‘a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder’.   This scientific term can be applied to TPM solutions.   You implemented your TPM solution to organize, simplify and put order into your trade promotion processes.   You are working to reduce the chaos and disorder in your organization.  Using a thermodynamics term, you are decreasing TPM entropy. However, once you implement TPM, everything inside and outside your organization starts pulling at your TPM solution, working to slowly create complexity, confusion, and disorder again.  If you just sit back and do nothing, entropy in your TPM solution will slowly increase.   The only solution to this challenge is an on-going passion to find inefficiencies that need reengineering.  Look for new trends, opportunities and industry TPM best-practices that support innovation.  These activities will help you keep entropy in balance and your TPM solution delivering value to the organization.
  • Training, training, training: Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated that most users only utilize a fraction of functionality in the software they use.  TPM software is no exception.  When users are first training in any software, they often learn basic functionality, not advanced features.  We are not robots that can record and remember everything we see and hear.  This means that we only retain some of the insights from our TPM training.  Another reason on-going training is so important is related to your business and the software.  Each year your business practices and the CPG marketplace evolve.  While that happens, your TPM vendor is enhancing your software with new features.  These two trends can be visualized as two straight lines diverging, where the gap between your needs and your current software configuration is growing larger.  Training can help you find the new software features you need to meet you ever changing TPM needs.
  • Striving for Prescriptive analytics: Too many times TPM solutions are used to generate gigs and gigs of electronic reports that no one uses. When you first installed your TPM solutions, these reports were amazing, providing insight that wasn’t available without TPM.  If one report is good, then 10 reports much be 10 times better.   Unfortunately, that math doesn’t work.  It’s actually the opposite result.  Many TPM solutions can create reams of interesting… but UNACTIONALBE  Given the massive amounts of data managed by TPM solutions, by some accounts this could be labeled ‘big-data’.  The answer to this challenge is twofold.  First, look for those few ‘nuggets’ of insight within the TPM data that can be used to help your company improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your trade promotions.  Second, strive to link an action to the data.  Interesting isn’t good enough.  Alerts are good, but alerts linked to specific action provide the best results.

All of these activities in the new year will help you get even more value from your existing TPM solution.


Alexander Ring

President, CG Squared