What is Integrated Business Planning?

Integrated Business Planning (IBP) is more than just Sales and Operation Planning (SOP), although it incorporates it into a company’s IBP. Most of the time integrated business planning and sales and operations planning are done by the senior management team, although other members of staff are sometimes asked to contribute their ideas.


Basically, SOP is needed to make certain that all a company’s business is conducted in accordance with the overall business plan. If it is, the company can be sure that all daily operations and monthly plans are focussed on the long-term goal set out in the company’s annual report. Everyone involved should be clear about the goals, from the contract manufacturers to the customers clients and shareholders. All involved in the company’s affairs should be clear about its goals.

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Every company needs an efficient, well-oiled supply chain and SOP helps to create a highly efficient chain. A supply chain cannot work if its separate entities don’t work as a whole unit. When a business operates as a family group, with lines of communication between departments, suppliers and others always open, there is every probability that the business will be successful. To this end, inter-departmental meetings should be held regularly. Those attending these meetings should be encouraged to give their views and opinions freely in a supportive, non-judgemental atmosphere.

A successful company will understand the value of teambuilding and will encourage all involved to support each other so that the common goal, the success of the company, can be achieved. Integrated business planning which takes into account the needs of all staff, customers and other stakeholders can ensure, with good communication channels, the success of the plan and the company.

The keys to successful implementation of an integrated business plan are the following (in no particular order):

  • Flexibility
  • Technology
  • Fully trained and qualified staff (and management team)
  • Supportive business culture
  • Good communication
  • Persuasive leaders who can build strong teams
  • Effective management
  • Defining reasons for success

There are several reasons for a company’s success as outlined above. They are defined and explained in this section.

  • Flexibility

When a company understands the importance of integrated business planning, the biggest hurdle could be getting all concerned to back the overall strategies detailed in the plan. Often there will be those who will oppose some, or all suggestions, that are proposed for the future of the company.

People can accept that integrated business planning is necessary for the future success of the company, but if channels of communication between departments, stakeholders, suppliers and management are blocked, the reasons for change may be misunderstood. Any misunderstanding that occur can seriously affect the successful implementation of the plan,

Acceptance of the views of all stakeholders and a willingness to listen and act on new ideas are very important. That’s why flexibility is a key factor for the successful implementation of any new business plan.

  • Technology

Clearly there is a need for companies to analyse data obtained from all departments and all links in the supply chain. Customers’ demands also need to be analysed. This task is made easy when using state-of-the-art computer software.

Technology is useful for all departments, as, among other things it allows for rapid communication between them, customers or clients, suppliers and so on. No longer is it necessary to rely on snail mail. Hand written memos should, by now, also be obsolete.

Technology helps companies streamline operations so that they work more cost-effectively and efficiently. That’s why it’s a vital part of integrated business planning.

  • Fully-trained and qualified personnel

It is important to have the right people in the right job. Staff need to have their skills updated regularly so that they keep abreast with the latest information pertaining to them and their role in the company. Management should be committed to appropriate training programmes for all staff, so that the company can benefit from innovations across the board.

Analysing what skills and qualifications are necessary for all jobs makes the hiring process easier. Integrated business planning can bring together the departments, Human Resources (HR), Sales and Marketing and so on, so that profiles of job candidates can be matched to the company’s vacancies. Once again technology can be useful.

Integrated business planning can ensure that the company’s goals as regards staffing can be achieved.

  • Supportive business culture

A supportive business culture is one which seeks to prom ote harmonious relationships within the workforce. Points of disagreement can be openly discussed without fear of censure. Conflicts can be more easily dealt with if they arise. Sometimes these are unavoidable because of personality clashes. Managers and staff in the HR department should be trained in conflict resolution, so that rancour does not fester and destroy interpersonal relationships.

There are many ways of keeping staff happy in their work, and incentives and bonuses help encourage staff to work to the best of their ability.

One reason for integrated business planning is to foresee and minimise problems before they actually occur.

Encouraging good relationships across the board is good for employees and managers alike.

  • Good communication systems

It’s very important for communication channels to be open for all involved in the company’s affairs. Customers and suppliers need to be informed of any changes that might affect them, well before the change comes about. This helps to enable trust, which is a key component in any company’s success. A breakdown in communication can have disastrous effects, including loss of trust.

  • Persuasive leaders build strong teams

One trait good managers share is their ability to persuade their staff to follow any new company line. A coercive manager is not likely to be able to get everyone to accept change.

Sometimes managers need training to enable them to be persuasive, especially if, in the past, they have been used to a coercive leadership style. Persuasive leaders can build strong teams and will have their respect.

Not all leaders are charismatic, but techniques for persuading others can be learned.

  • Effective management

Effective management strategies are crucial to the success of any company. Managers have to take responsibility for the successes and failures of the company. Ineffective management is disastrous. People need to have faith in a manager. If they don’t, chaos will reign.

A successful company will have all the attributes listed above.

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