Creating an Effective Integrated Business Planning Process: Clif Bar's Experience

By Grillo, Vicky | The Journal of Business Forecasting, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

Creating an Effective Integrated Business Planning Process: Clif Bar's Experience


Grillo, Vicky, The Journal of Business Forecasting


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY | S&OP is a great process to manage demand. In this article, the author shows how Clif Bar, producer of organic foods and drinks, implemented this process with great success.

Clif Bar & Company (CB&C), a privately owned American company, was started in 1992. It produces organic foods and drinks guided by Five Aspirations: (1) sustaining business by building a resilient company and making investments for the long-term; (2) sustaining brands by creating them with integrity, quality, and authenticity; (3) sustaining people by working side-by-side with them, as well as encouraging each other; (4) sustaining communities by promoting health and sustainability-locally and globally; and (5) sustaining the planet by conserving and restoring our natural resources, and growing business in harmony with the laws of nature. In line with these aspirations, in 2007 Clif Bar started giving $6,500 to its employees to switch to biodiesel, or high-mileage hybrid cars to reduce fuel consumption. In 2008, it began giving employees up to $500 to purchase commuter bicycles, with an annual reward up to $960 for getting to work on foot, bicycle, or public transportation. It also started offering employees up to $1,000 annually to make eco-improvements to their homes, such as solar panel installation and new windows.

The company had an instant hit with cyclists and climbers. Its distribution began at bicycle shops, outdoor stores, and natural food retailers. Soon its popularity grew with outdoor adventure seekers of all types, and distribution expanded to grocery stores, convenience stores, and other retail outlets nationwide. In the late 1990s, the energy bar category experienced rapid growth and consolidation. A number of large multinational food companies wanted to acquire it, but Clif Bar made a brave and bold decision to remain independent, enabling it to develop and expand its innovative business model guided by the Five Aspirations, mentioned earlier.The word "Aspiration" was chosen with the thought that we're on a journey, and can always do more in each of these areas.

THE BEGINNING OF THE S&OP PROCESS

As the business grew, so did the problems. To manage the enterprise more effectively, in 2012 Clif Bar decided to launch a formal S&OP process. A cross-functional project group was formed to assess, design, and implement a new S&OP process. The team met weekly, and began by documenting the current state. One of the main issues with the current state was the lack of a onenumber forecast, which was viewed as an opportunity to create a process that supported it. After creating the current state process map, the team spent one month getting educated on the best practices of S&OP. We did this by benchmarking other CPG companies as well as bringing in experts from Oliver Wight and OLEX to talk to our project team. The next task was to design the process for Clif. The process has to be something that the Clif culture could accept and embrace. Roles and responsibilities were clearly defined. …

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