Taking supplier collaboration to the next level

Companies with advanced procurement functions know that there are limits to the value they can generate by focusing purely on the price of the products and services they buy. These organizations understand that when buyers and suppliers are willing and able to cooperate, they can often find ways to unlock significant new sources of value that benefit them both.

Buyers and suppliers can work together to develop innovative new products, for example, boosting revenues and profits for both parties. They can take an integrated approach to supply-chain optimization, redesigning their processes together to reduce waste and redundant effort, or jointly purchasing raw materials. Or they can collaborate in forecasting, planning, and capacity management—thereby improving service levels, mitigating risks, and strengthening the combined supply chain.

Earlier work has shown that supplier collaboration really does move the needle for companies that do it well. In one McKinsey survey of more than 100 large organizations in multiple sectors, companies that regularly collaborated with suppliers demonstrated higher growth, lower operating costs, and greater profitability than their industry peers (Exhibit 1).

Despite the value at stake, however, the benefits of supplier collaboration have proved difficult to access. While many companies can point to individual examples of successful collaborations with suppliers, executives often tell us that they have struggled to integrate the approach into their overall procurement and supply-chain strategies.

Barriers to collaboration

Several factors make supplier collaboration challenging. Projects may require significant time and management effort before they generate value, leading companies to prioritize simpler, faster initiatives, even if they are worth less. Collaboration requires a change in mind-sets among buyers and suppliers, who may be used to more transactional or even adversarial relationships. And most collaborative efforts need intensive, cross-functional involvement from both sides, a marked change to the normal working methods at many companies. This change from a cost-based to a value-based way of thinking requires a paradigm shift that is often difficult to come by.

The actual value generated by collaborating can also be difficult to quantify, especially when companies are also pursuing more conventional procurement and supply-chain improvement strategies with the same suppliers, or when they are simultaneously updating product designs and production processes. And even when companies have the will to pursue greater levels of supplier collaboration, leaders often admit that they don’t have the skill, lacking the structures they need to design great supplier-collaboration programs, and being short of staff with the capabilities to run them. After all, what great supplier collaboration necessitates is much more than the mere application of a process or framework—it requires the buy-in and long-term commitment of leaders and decision makers.

A shared perspective

To understand more about the factors that hamper or enable supplier-collaboration programs, we partnered with Michigan State University (MSU) to develop a new way of looking at companies’ use of supplier collaboration. The Supplier Collaboration Index (SCI) is a survey- and interview-based benchmarking tool that assesses supplier-collaboration programs over five major dimensions (Exhibit 2).

During 2019, researchers from McKinsey and MSU rolled out the Index in a pilot project involving a dozen leading consumer-goods companies in North America, along with ten to 15 of each company’s strategic suppliers. We collected more than 300 written responses from more than 130 organizations, and conducted in-depth interviews with around 60 buyer and supplier executives. The work provides some important insights on the state of supplier collaboration today, revealing the elements of collaboration that companies and suppliers believe are working well, and the areas that present the greatest challenges.

The results of our consumer-industry benchmark are summarized in Exhibit 3, with average buyer and supplier perceptions of their own collaboration programs rated from one (low) to ten (high) in each of the five dimensions.

Overall, the research reveals close alignment between buyers and suppliers on the relative strength of most dimensions. It also shows a clear drop in perceptions of strength as the discussion moves from theory (strategic alignment) to execution (value creation and sharing, organizational governance).

The in-depth interviews conducted with senior buyer and supplier personnel as part of the SCI data-collection process provide further insights into the challenges companies face in each of the five dimensions, while also revealing some examples of best practices that lower-performing companies can emulate.

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Achieving strategic alignment.

Benchmark participants understood who their strategic suppliers are, although they do not all use formal segmentation approaches to categorize their supply bases. Likewise, suppliers understood their strategic importance to their customers. Buyers and suppliers agreed that there was good alignment on the pursuit of sources of value beyond cost—but also agreed that their efforts to capture these value sources were not always successful.

The first step for an organization is to define what it wants to achieve from its collaboration efforts, and what it needs to do to realize those goals. Internal alignment and commitment by senior managers to ensure appropriate resources are available is also critical. For example, in a quest to develop more sustainable detergents, Unilever partnered with Novozyme—a major supplier of enzymes— to jointly develop new enzyme solutions. The collaboration leveraged each party’s strengths, merging Unilever’s understanding of which types of stains and materials were most relevant with Novozyme’s reagent-optimization capabilities. The partnership resulted in two enzyme innovations that improved product performance, increased market penetration, and allowed the company to target premium-branded competitors. Moreover, the new formulation performed well at lower temperatures, helping customers save energy and reduce CO2 emissions.

Joint business planning

Joint business planning is a collaborative planning process in which the company and its supplier align on short- and long-term business objectives, agree on mutual targets, and jointly develop plans to achieve set objectives (exhibit). It brings a formal approach to collaboration with suppliers and helps to engage stakeholders from different functions in the collaboration effort.

Joint business planning works best when companies have a clear understanding of the strategic suppliers with which they want to engage, and where they have strong core supplier management capabilities in place. The approach can be applied at several levels. At its simplest, joint planning can involve aligning on metrics and value sharing agreements. At its most advanced it can include joint investment to create new sources of value.

Other organizations participating in SCI have introduced formal methods to promote greater strategic alignment, such as by introducing a joint business-planning approach. The buyer and supplier align on short- and long-term business objectives, set out mutual targets, and jointly develop plans to achieve objectives. Areas of opportunity for collaboration include growth, innovation, productivity, quality, and margins (see sidebar, “Joint business planning”).

Communication and trust

Buyers and sellers both describe high levels of trust in relationships that they consider strategic. In most cases, that trust has been built up over time, based on longstanding business relationships. Companies involved in collaborations tend to appreciate each other’s capabilities, understand each other’s businesses, and believe that their partners will stick to the commitments they make.

Companies are less convinced, however, that their partners will be ready to put the interests of the collaboration above the interests of their own organization. Many interview participants noted that greater transparency over sensitive areas such as costs was key to attaining the highest level of collaboration, but said that this goal was often difficult to achieve.

Building trust takes time and effort. Often this means starting small, with simple collaboration efforts that deliver results quickly, building momentum. This way, companies can demonstrate a serious approach to collaboration and their willingness to share gains fairly. More importantly, companies should base their relationships on transparency and information sharing as a foundation, with the expectation that greater trust will follow.

Cosmetics company L’Oréal follows this approach to encourage collaborative innovation. Through open dialogs concerning company goals and long-term commitment, L’Oréal has been able to establish an effective codevelopment process. The company’s annual “Cherry Pack” exhibition, for example, offers suppliers a preview of the consumer trends that the company will be working on, and asks them to develop packaging solutions in harmony with these trends. During the exhibition, L’Oréal creates a trust-based forum for suppliers to present the ideas and products in development—including ideas that have yet to be patented. The forum thus gives suppliers access to practical short- and long-term ideas and projects that ultimately accelerate packaging innovation.

Cross-functional engagement

To generate value from changes in manufacturing methods, quality-assurance regimes, or supply-chain processes, representatives from the respective functions on both sides of the partnership will need to work together. Yet this type of cross-functional engagement is something most benchmark participants find extremely difficult. Executives reported that while traditional relationships—such as those between buyers and supplier sales teams, or suppliers and buyer R&D functions—were strong, wider cross-functional engagement was patchy and poorly managed at best.

Improving cross-functional engagement is a leadership issue. Organizations with the most successful collaboration programs use a formal approach to manage cross-functional teams, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities on both sides of the partnership, backed by changes to internal incentive systems to promote full participation in collaboration projects.

Some companies, such as P&G, have taken a step further in creating cross-functional teams solely focused on joint innovation with suppliers. By creating a practice of “open innovation,” P&G aimed to coordinate its efforts and leverage the skills and interests of people throughout the company to assess the competitive landscape, identify types of innovation that can help develop disruptive ideas, and identify appropriate external partners. For innovation to work, P&G has stressed the need to integrate cross-functional teams that, in turn, integrate business strategy with operations—which requires a broad network of interactions.

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Value creation and sharing.

The pursuit of shared value is the reason buyers and suppliers take part in collaboration projects, so unsurprisingly procurement executives consider it the most important dimension of their collaboration efforts. Yet few participants in our study track the impact of collaboration on sources of value beyond cost reductions. Where companies have tracked the impact of collaboration projects on revenues, margins, or other metrics, they have done so only for a handful of high-profile projects.

For buyers, additional volume remains the most common way that the extra value created by collaboration projects is shared. Some partnerships had made use of other types of value sharing, such as performance-based incentives for suppliers. Where these approaches were employed, both buyers and suppliers were happy with the results. That suggests significant opportunity for companies to expand their use of such approaches, provided they can reach agreement on cost baselines and incentive structures.

Cleansheet cost modeling

Many of the potential sources of value targeted by supplier-collaboration efforts depend upon a mutual understanding of the true costs of a product or service. Achieving that sort of transparency can, however, be difficult in buyer-supplier relationships. Suppliers may be reluctant to reveal too much about their own manufacturing processes and costs, fearing that this information will be used against them in negotiations, and buyers may not want to let suppliers know just how critical they are.

Cleansheet cost-modeling approaches have risen to prominence in recent years as a tool to allow an open, fact-based cost discussion between buyers and suppliers. A cleansheet calculates the cost of each step during the creation of a product, component, or service, using a database of information on the materials, labor, factory space, equipment, time, and energy required to complete each step—and the implications for the desired product volumes on the utilization of those resources.

Cleansheet cost transparency helps collaboration partners generate ideas for design and process improvements. The approach can also underpin value-sharing agreements, allowing organizations to establish clear cost baselines and measure improvements against them.

Cost transparency is a critical enabler here. Some companies have found cleansheet cost modeling to be a very effective way to conduct fact-based discussions on costs and improvement opportunities with their collaboration partners (see sidebar, “Cleansheet cost modeling”).

ASML, a lithography-equipment manufacturer for the semiconductor industry, operates a value-sharing mechanism for its suppliers. The company allows suppliers to maintain healthy margins (as a volatility buffer), provides financing for the infrastructure needed to make its products, and offers staggered purchase guarantees. In this way, ASML incentivizes and rewards its strategic suppliers for prioritizing its business, gains access to cutting-edge technology, and reduces costs and improves stability in an industry with short lifecycles affected by substantial swings in demand.

Throughout its long history of collaboration with suppliers, P&G has used a wide range of commercial models to partner with suppliers across the entire R&D chain. Its value-sharing models range from shared fund pools for codevelopment of products to licensing agreements for commercialization. The flexibility to employ different mechanisms has allowed P&G to tap into supplier innovation without the need to overinvest in the development of deep partnerships with every potential collaborator.

Organization and governance

Like cross-functional engagement, the organization and governance of supplier-collaboration programs suffers from a lack of formal structures and processes. Interviewees admitted that their companies, both buyers and suppliers, were relatively lax in tracking and valuing their supplier-collaboration efforts. Few organizations had done anything to align the incentives of project participants within their own organizations, and most relied on informal mechanisms to share feedback or review progress with partners.

Introducing a clearer governance structure for the overall supplier-collaboration program and for individual projects has the potential to significantly improve outcomes in most organizations. Two-way scorecards, for example, allow buyers and suppliers to let each other know if they are effectively supporting the goals of the program. Governance of collaboration projects should be cross-functional, with appropriate incentives introduced throughout the organization to encourage full participation and ensure both parties pursue long-term win-win opportunities, not just short-term savings.

Supplier advisory boards

A supplier advisory board (or council) serves as a neutral and collaborative forum for the exchange of ideas between the host company and a group of strategic suppliers. Such boards are widely used by companies with mature procurement organizations, and they do so for a variety of reasons. A board may advise on key industry trends, risks, and potentially disruptive threats in the supplier ecosystem. Or they may provide a place for companies to explore the potential impact of business decisions on sourcing strategy. Some boards act as a hub for projects to improve operational processes between the company and its suppliers. Others are assembled to support special projects, such as joint innovation programs or sustainability initiatives.

An advisory board is usually chaired by an executive business sponsor and sourcing lead. Buyer-side members include representatives of multiple functions, such as marketing, legal, and R&D. On the supplier side, companies usually nominate a lead strategic supplier, along with around a dozen supplier board members chosen from the strategic supplier base. Those suppliers are selected after evaluation against a matrix of criteria determined by the objectives of the board.

Several leading organizations have created supplier advisory boards to provide high-level support and guidance for their supplier-management and supplier-collaboration programs. These boards act as a forum for the supplier base to advise on key issues and collaborate with the organization to further its business agenda. Companies use their supplier advisory boards to help manage risks and disruptive threats to the supplier ecosystem, and such boards also serve as a neutral space for the exchange of ideas between the host company and a group of strategic suppliers (see sidebar, “Supplier advisory boards”).

Toyota has been a prominent example of supplier collaboration, whose success can be explained in part by the use of clearly defined targets and supplier-performance metrics. These are built into contracts that hold suppliers accountable for continued improvements in quality, cost, and delivery performance. The company governs supplier relationships using a steering committee, staffed with relevant senior stakeholders from both organizations, to define the scope and objectives of the collaboration, review progress, and take action to remove roadblocks and resolve issues as they arise.

The Supplier Collaboration Index has already revealed several major opportunities for companies seeking to expand and improve their supplier-collaboration efforts. Some of those opportunities are quite straightforward, such as more proactive management of cross-functional teams involved in collaboration projects, or the introduction of formal governance systems to manage those projects. Others, such as greater cost transparency between buyers and suppliers, or the use of performance-based supplier-incentive mechanisms, may require more time and effort to achieve.

Excelling at supplier collaboration requires a more active and engaged working relationship with suppliers. It also calls for a change in mindset, encouraging both buyers and suppliers to commit to the long-term pursuit of value from their collaborative relationships. We end with eight steps that any organization can take to put its collaboration efforts on the right track.

  • Start by identifying those suppliers that offer unique joint opportunities to create and retain significant value.
  • Align strategically with these partners to define joint objectives and develop a compelling business case for both parties.
  • Adopt a methodical and structured approach to define the scope, pace and targets for joint projects, including a clear methodology on how to measure value creation.
  • Define simple, clear value-sharing mechanisms, and align incentives of the cross-functional team accordingly.
  • Invest in allocating the appropriate resources and building the required infrastructure to support the program.
  • Create a governance model focused on performance, implementation tracking, and hardwiring supplier collaboration into core operational processes.
  • Foster a culture founded in proactive communication, transparency, consistency, and knowledge sharing, to strengthen long-term partnerships.
  • Invest in building world-class organizational capabilities to ensure sustainability over time.

For any organization seeking to improve the performance of its procurement practices, supplier collaboration can no longer be considered a nice-to-have. As companies reach the limits of conventional purchasing practices, further progress will require a new approach based on close relationships, cross-functional engagement, and the shared pursuit of new value.

Agustin Gutierrez is a partner in McKinsey’s Mexico City office; Ashish Kothari is a partner in the Denver office, Carolina Mazuera is a consultant in the Miami office, and Tobias Schoenherr is the Hoagland-Metzler Endowed Professor of Purchasing and Supply Management at Michigan State University.

The authors wish to thank Juby Cherian, Pat Mitchell, and Valeria Saborio for their contributions to this article.

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““When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.”” – Chinese Proverb

Joint Business Planning

Drives incremental revenue from agreed focus market, vertical and/or client by addressing key drivers with a joint proposition and solution stack. Builds strong Partner relationship build on mutual understanding and clear engagement plan. Improved status for Channel Account Manager from delivering tangible value to the Partner. Plan monitoring and expediting ensures plan is delivered, ensuring revenue, ROI and Partner satisfaction.


The Joint Business Planning program has been designed to support the building of joint Partner and Vendor/Manufacturer value propositions, and to create joint go-to-market engagement plans. This is a two day facilitated workshop to build a practical plan that both parties can, and will, execute upon. The workshop is supported by a planning toolbox to capture the output and provide a way of monitoring and measuring progress. Each workshop should be tuned to reflect the current maturity of planning and the focus required to drive business for both parties.

  • The Plan Phase –- planning your JBP
  • Effective Meeting Management
  • How Retailers Should measure themselves
  • The timeline and the template – what good looks like
  • Review of each KPI in detail to understand what impacts these KPI’s
  • How to ensure continuous improvement against these KPI’s
  • Understanding the Communication style of both Internal and External Customers and adapting yours to significantly improve the relationship
  • The A.D.E.P.T. Concept , The “Ultimate Success Formula”
  • Common Trade Issues and Resolutions and how to deal with them
  • Advanced Negotiation Skills
  • Video Role Plays around current major issues or opportunities within the JBP process

Establish a targeted increase in investment from Top 20 suppliers

In conjunction with buyers the Retail Foundation team will develop, and when required and appropriate, lead the introduction of JBP and the rationale for the cost of entry to suppliers

Post meetings Retail Foundation will in conjunction with buyers develop next key steps with suppliers leading to

  • Enhanced  L.T.A from Suppliers as Cost of entry to J.B.P process
  • Enhanced Promotional Investment from Suppliers  to drive growth in 2012
  • Enhanced Range & Margin via optimised ranging programme
  • Enhanced In-Store Activity in line with Retailers themes & mechanics
  • Joint Business Plans developed with all Major Suppliers  for 2012
  • Category Management, Driven by Category Captains & Retailer
  • Tools for Implementing New Processes and for Monitoring & Measuring Sales & Investment,
  • Strict Process for Supplier Engagement re Listings, Promotions, etc

Engagement & Preparation

Channel Manager engages with the Partner, and internally, to obtain buy-in and commitment of key stakeholders. Define maturity of engagement and agree focus for planning. Ensure the right people are committed to, and engaged in, the joint planning process.

Joint Business Planning Workshop [Day 1]

Building the joint value proposition by focusing on key market drivers, defining the solution stack and identifying competitive differentiation. Partner and Vendor have an agreed proposition which clearly meets client’s needs.

Joint Business Planning Workshop [Day 2]

Building a joint execution plan with a clear joint engagement approach, joint team planner and opportunities list. Sales teams have a clear plan of engagement and target list.

Plan Execution Monitoring

Complete the actions defined in the above two steps to finalise the plan. This is monitored and managed to ensure actions are completed to agreed timescales. Most initiatives fail due to lack of follow through, this keep the momentum to execute. Both days are supported by the planning toolbox

Executive Approval

Present a synopsis of the plan to Partner and Vendor for Executive approval. Commitment to investment and resource and provides visibility of the joint engagement.

Execution & Measurement

Frequent (period to be agreed) monitoring of action progress with action owners and reporting to plan owners. This ensures delivery of the overall plan, to both Vendor and the Partner, and the realisation of the incremental revenue from joint proposition and go to market

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Improve Collaboration and Joint Business Planning Results in 3 Steps

joint business planning workshop

Collaboration is on many organization’s strategic plans, with effective Joint Business Planning (JBP) being the outcome. Retailers’ and Vendors’ have the opportunity to determine mutual areas of interest and build their businesses in a collaborative way — namely by taking steps to improve Shopper satisfaction with a better experience.

However, effective Collaboration and JBP require more than a desire or written strategic plan. Both require that your organization undertake 3 consecutive steps:

  • Prepare your organization internally for collaboration;
  • Align your internal approach across your multifunctional teams through common training; and
  • Implement external Collaboration and Joint Business Planning.

Collaboration and Joint Business Planning can help both Retailers and Vendors manage the change that continues to dominate, including:

  • Changing partner needs and expectations between Retailers and Vendors
  • Changing market and Shopper,
  • Less resources available internally due to downsizing / consolidation, and
  • Increased requirements due to more and bigger data and a more complex Shopper.

Here are some resources to help you get started:

  • Complimentary Download: Collaborative Relationship Continuum Model
  • Course Video Preview: Collaborative Business Planning
  • Course Overview:   Collaborative Business Planning

3 Steps: Improved Collaboration and Joint Business Planning 

Step 1: be prepared internally.

It’s important for teams and organizations to first understand what collaboration is: 

Collaboration is highly diversified multifunctional teams   working together inside and outside a Retailer / Vendor with the purpose to create value   by improving innovation, Shopper relationships   and efficiency while leveraging technology for effective interactions in the virtual and physical space. (Carlos Dominguez, Cisco) (modified by Sue Nicholls, CMKG)

Are you ready to collaborate?  Start by defining your assets, prioritizing your opportunities and seeking out the right business partners. The questions below can help determine if your organization is ready to collaborate ( taken from the Category Management Association’s whitepaper on “Strategic Collaboration for Shopper Satisfaction” ):

  • What do you want to gain by collaborating?
  • Is your company set up to foster and support collaboration?
  • What multifunctional resources / data / technology / intellectual property can be shared with your collaborative business partners?

Step 2: Create Internal Alignment

Moving to a collaborative approach requires your multifunctional teams to be able to see the “bigger picture”, turn data into insights, think beyond brand into total category, and better understand the consumer AND Shopper. These responsibilities must be expanded to marketing, sales, private label and retail teams in an aligned approach. 

Alignment of all functions in your organization occurs through engagement and training in category management . In fact, training approaches need to change for most organizations, as traditional “point and click” linear approaches based on a new data source or tactic no longer suffice. In a collaborative approach, teams need to start thinking more strategically about how the decisions and recommendations they make align to the overall strategies for the organization and for their external collaborative business partners. This can be accomplished by equipping multifunctional teams with a common set of knowledge and skills acquired through training courses. 

Role-based training in combination with strategic training will help individuals and teams feel more confident they are making choices and recommendations that match with your overall collaborative efforts and Shopper.

Step 3: Move to External Collaboration and Joint Business Planning

Now that you’ve established where you are currently at with your Retailer or Vendor partners, you can undertake Joint Business Planning (JBP) — the “next level” in a collaborative relationship. JBP should build from foundations established in collaborative relationships.

In theory, Joint Business Planning is a collaborative effort between the Vendor and Retailer which involves open sharing of information. Shared information allows for the creation of a common, mutually-agreed-to business plan. But let me insert a bit of reality into this idyllic definition. From a basic level, it is a business plan that is developed between Vendors and Retailers, through sharing of select information. The plan should include expected trends, initiatives and the forecasted market environment, so that there is a greater chance for the goals and objectives within the plan to be attained. 

The higher the level of collaboration between the organizations, the closer you will move toward the theoretical definition of Joint Business Planning.

A successful Joint Business Plan requires each party to clearly understand the others’ goals, business and customer requirements. This shared understanding becomes the foundation of the JBP, with both businesses pooling their resources and expertise to achieve specific goals. The risks and rewards of the plan are also shared.

While specific approaches vary by Retailer, the following framework from CMKG category management training provides the key steps associated with most joint business planning processes:

jbp framework by Category Management Knowledge Group

Let’s look at the first step for the Retailer – identifying corporate strategies and goals . The Retailer, usually led by the senior management team, creates the sales, cost of goods and operating targets for the upcoming year. When you look at a Retailer’s income statement , there are 3 ways that a Retailer can influence net income:

  • increased sales;
  • decreased cost of goods sold; and
  • decreased operating expenses.

Retailers’ targets will most likely include initiatives behind all three of these components of the income statement to increase their net margin and income. Examples of initiatives may include new store openings, the current market, and private label opportunities for the Retailer. Other initiatives may be based on supply chain upgrades, information technology upgrades, or any other types of business process improvements that will impact the bottom line for the Retailer.

In summary, if you have properly defined collaboration internally and strategically selected your business partners upfront, you are less likely to run into problems. Problems are likely to arise in a Joint Business Plan if:

  • There are unclear objectives, one of the parties was not transparent in their sharing of information, or the plan was not properly communicated to everyone involved.
  • The partners have different objectives or hidden agendas in the joint venture.
  • One party is investing much more in terms of expertise, financial, and/or assets than the other party, creating an imbalance.
  • Different cultures and management styles with partners may result in poor integration and cooperation.
  • The partners don’t provide sufficient leadership and support in the early stages of the program.

Download the "Collaborative Relationship Continuum Model" PDF Document from Category Management Knowledge Group

The Opportunity?  For Retailers and Vendors to define mutual areas of interest, build business in a collaborative way, and improve the Shopper experience. 

Want to learn more about Collaborative and Joint Business Planning? Category Management Knowledge Group can help you, your team or your organization through a single online, live or webinar course or a customized program. We have some great category management training options available to meet your needs. You can preview our brand new, accredited  Collaborative Business Planning   course below:

Topics: Category Management , Strategic Collaboration / Joint Business Planning

Written by Sue Nicholls, Founder & President CMKG

I have developed over 150 hours of online curriculum, developed and facilitated hundreds of instructor-led training sessions, and had the privilege of working with retailers, suppliers and solution providers around the globe alongside an evolving industry. The challenge is to anticipate what's next and find ways to teach our students the skills required to compete and stay relevant.

Learning is a journey for everyone - individuals, teams, organizations, and yes, even training companies. You can't put training in a can, automate it and call it a day - it needs to evolve, be nourished, and continually improve. Through this blog and other channels, I share my years of expertise with our industry and believe that an open and ongoing conversation can improve any team’s capacity to implement business strategies that achieve their strategic priorities.

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What Is a Joint Business Plan (JBP)? Benefits & Best Practices

By 8th & Walton | on October 2, 2022

From small businesses to large corporations, the most successful companies begin and stick with a clear business plan. When a company defines its goals, lays out a path to meet objectives, and agrees on financial spending and expectations, it creates a shared vision and accountability to succeed.

Many businesses experience greater growth when partnering with another business. In the supplier and retailer relationship, both parties working independently would be detrimental. To create a mutually beneficial partnership, they must begin by defining each company’s responsibilities, expectations, and needs in a joint business plan.

What Is a Joint Business Plan?

A joint business plan (JBP) is the collaborative process of planning between a retailer and a supplier in which both companies agree on short-term and long-term objectives, financial goals, growth, and shared business initiatives for profitability.

Joint business planning focuses on agreeing on common objectives and aligning on a single goal or set of goals. The companies in the joint business plan must work together to accomplish a shared vision.

What Is the Purpose of a Joint Business Plan?

For retailers and suppliers, having a joint business plan can create a win-win strategy in growing consumer sales. An effective JBP allows suppliers to build stronger relationships with their retailers so both parties can mutually support and benefit from each other.

When a retailer and supplier recognize each others’ needs and agree on common goals, they can share insights to support each other and improve sales, customer growth, and processes.

How Does a Joint Business Plan Work?

Two companies can come together with a joint business plan because they have one thing in common: a shared shopper . Whether it is a supplier partnering with a retailer or a children’s clothing company partnering with a toy manufacturer, having the same target audience is the first element that brings the companies together.

The companies considering a joint business venture should then share their individual business plans and discuss their mutual growth opportunities. This is where the general goals and areas of support can be defined. Specific tactics and category strategies can also be fleshed out in early discussions before moving to the formal process.

Once both companies are in agreement that the partnership will be mutually beneficial, the joint business plan can be created. Formal contracts are drawn up, approved, signed, and the plan is ready to be executed. Periodic reviews and necessary adjustments to the JBP are recommended as needed.

Benefits of Joint Business Planning

Why enter into a joint business plan with another company? The benefits can be not only financial but educational as well:

  • Aligning goals.  For a retailer/supplier joint business plan, being aligned on goals creates clarity on all other areas of the business. Defining expectations on all areas from marketing to supply chain to sales goals leaves minimal area for questions. Agreeing on goals, no matter how and when they are measured, keeps both parties accountable and benefits both to meet expectations.
  • Shared resources and exposure. Partnering with another company can bring a new audience and a new platform. In a simple retailer/supplier joint business plan, the retailer can introduce the supplier’s product to its core shoppers. At the same time, shoppers loyal to the supplier’s product or brand can be introduced to the retailer’s store and website for the first time.
  • Greater return on investment.  By partnering with another company with a shared vision, the benefits above will provide a better ROI when the plan is executed correctly.

Joint Business Planning Best Practices

How can companies ensure their joint business plan is a good fit for both parties? These are some best practices to include in preparation for entering into the partnership:

1. Align Internally First

Before entering into a joint business plan with another company, all members of the business must agree on the benefits of the partnership. Recognizing the advantages and seeing the bigger picture is key. When employees are in alignment within the company, it will be easier to align with the partnering company on the shared vision of the joint business plan.

2. Create the Plan Together

When two businesses enter into a partnership, the joint business plan should not be built by only one. A company sending another a complete plan or just a form to fill out is not collaborative. Both companies need to build the plan from the ground up. Collaborating in the development of the joint business plan is just as important as executing the plan itself.

3. Set Specific Goals

Expectations for success in the partnership need to be specific. “We need to grow sales” or “production costs will decrease” are good goals, but too general. Keep specifics in your plan that are as specific as they are realistic. If one company wants to grow sales by 40% in the next quarter, this should be spelled out in the joint business plan so get early support or push back from the other company.

4. Assign a Metric to Each Goal

Putting a metric with a goal keeps the company accountable to the mission of the joint business plan. For example, if the goal is to grow sales by 40% in the next quarter, it would be wise to assign a weekly growth metric. If the metric is too low over a few weeks, the plan shows that action needs to be taken immediately in order to meet the 40% sales growth goal for the quarter.

5. Communicate Responsibility and Accountability

The joint business plan is the place to eliminate all guesswork. If Company A is responsible for providing labels to Company B, be very specific about the responsible parties. Clarify that the packaging coordinator of Company A will mail the labels to the warehouse manager of Company B on the first of the month.

6. Include Risks and Solutions

Planning for setbacks is key to planning for success. The joint business plan should include any possible risks or obstacles foreseen by either company. Having solutions in place for multiple scenarios makes the plan easier to execute.

7. Constantly Evaluate the Relationship

Joint business plans work better with trust, mutual respect, and a great working relationship. Keeping the relationship healthy between the companies and individuals relying on each other brings more success to the overall plan. Monitor the relationship periodically and work to resolve conflicts as they arise.

Joint Business Plans at Walmart

Walmart works with its suppliers to create plans for sales and category growth. The company relies on suppliers to bring insights to the table to spot trends and get in front of potential gaps in the business.

Back in 2011, Walmart created a joint business plan with Proctor and Gamble to pick up lost sales in air fresheners. This category was down over 2% across the chain, but P&G brought insights to Walmart on how consumers were purchasing throughout the industry.

Consumers had no problem going to Walmart for aerosol sprays for under a dollar, but would then go to specialty stores to purchase expensive candles in the same scent. Through communicating through the joint business plan, Walmart was able to create excitement around higher price-point items and show the shared shopper they could purchase the extra items in one store.

Positive business collaborations can be extremely beneficial in growing retail sales. Two companies sharing a common vision can build on each other’s best practices and support each other to mutually win at the register.

Suppliers looking for support in their Walmart business have found great collaboration with 8th & Walton. Our team of experts supports suppliers to improve reporting, analytics, supply chain, accounting, and more. To begin a great collaboration with us, request a free 15-minute consultation this week.

About the Author

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8th & Walton consists of retail industry experts with a combined 200+ years of Walmart and Walmart supplier experience. Having helped hundreds of CPG companies in their efforts to be better supplier partners to the world's most influential retailer, the 8th & Walton editorial team prides itself on being a go-to resource for Walmart supplier news and insights.

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What Is Joint Business Planning?

Joint Business Planning (JBP) helps Consumer Goods suppliers and retailers build winning relationships that benefit both parties and improve the commerce experience through clear insights into the other's needs and recognition of mutual interests.

joint business planning workshop

Charles Redfield

Executive vice president and chief merchandising officer – sam’s club (walmart).

The symbiotic relationship between retailer and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies has, till now, been able to support steady growth based on demand alone. Now, as the Consumer Goods (CG) industry continues to shift away from organic expansion, the need to reach more customers and engage new audiences is more important than ever.

Let's dive in to some of the key shifts our customers are seeing in the retail environment:

Authentic challenger brands are continually entering the market. According to a recent  survey  carried out by McKinsey, 30-40% of consumers have been trying new brands and products during the pandemic. Of these consumers, 12% expect to continue to purchase the new brands after the pandemic. More competition = more difficulty obtaining or retaining market share.

Global supply chain stress has created a multitude of issues for companies seeking to keep costs down. Disruptions in labour markets have seen 15% of companies with insufficient labour for their facilities to keep up with increases in demand, leading to inflation re-emerging as a significant problem for the first time since the 1970s.

Changing consumer needs are not only encouraging the rise of new, healthier alternative brands but also instigating real legislative change. For example, in October 2022, HFSS (High in Fat, Salt & Sugar)  regulations  will see a crackdown on promotions for unhealthy food and drinks, which will have serious repercussions for both suppliers and retailers.

joint business planning workshop

Evan Sheehan

Retail, wholesale & distribution leader - deloitte global.

These shifts have caused retailers to change the way they do business; the traditional playbook needs to be thrown out and rewritten. The diversification we have seen in channels, models and store formats means that retailers’ expectations for suppliers have changed. And, as increasing numbers of authentic challenger brands come to market, competition has never been higher. 

For both retailers and suppliers, Key Account Management (KAM) needs to be revisited. A culture of test & learn in real time needs to be applied to contend with these new market entrants and, with “key accounts contribut[ing] between 40% to 80% of revenue for a branded supplier” in developed markets as indicated by this article by Bain & Company , the time to reinvent is now.

Major incentives for change can be distilled into these three points:

joint business planning workshop

In the past, the CPG industry power dynamic has often favoured the supplier, but this is no longer the case. Only 3% of retailers are in an exclusive relationship with just one supplier in a given category, indicating the clout they hold to sway access to consumers is higher than ever before. With a number of Consumer Goods companies falling prey to a one-size-fits-all to their global business models, they have been losing valuable ground to more specialised, relevant competitors.

For CPG companies, visibility at point-of-sale for their products is vital. For retailers, getting the product in-store to sell is their business. Having retailers being ‘on-side’ and aligned is game-changing for suppliers. 

But, as indicated in the name, Joint Business Plans need to be exactly that: Joint. If the manufacturers arrive at the table with a railroad agenda, offering little to no agency to the retailer, it will be too one-sided and off balanced. If retailers have unrealistic expectations, e.g broad assortments or 24-hour delivery, from certain suppliers, the equilibrium of the plan will be thrown off from the outset. This is where the value of insight-sharing cannot be understated; IGD asserts that both sides must 'be prepared to share information with each other' to achieve success.

Both CPG companies and retailers need to be able to influence the plan and offer respective insights to avoid creating a zero-sum atmosphere.

For companies collaborating on Joint Business Plans, certain proactive steps need to be taken to fit the plan to benefit both parties. Bain & Company have set out five key steps that they have seen Consumer Goods companies take to achieve 'more trustful and productive' relationships and provide significant value.

joint business planning workshop

Entering into a business relationship, such as a JBP, with a full understanding of where a potential partner is in the market is pivotal to a successful collaboration. Being aware of any weaknesses provides the opportunity to address them before they become an issue and impact your business. 

In turn, a complete understanding of your own business’ strengths and weaknesses before embarking on any external partnership is equally important. A Joint Business Plan can only be successful if it truly brings benefit to both the retailers and CPG companies; without this, joint commitment can’t be assured. 

This demands the creation of an environment where retailers and CPG companies can offer total visibility into their data, thereby enabling creation of target audiences and consumer journeys. As indicated by an IGD Industry Survey , ‘Too often trust is the biggest barrier to putting any proposal into action’. Data transparency reduces the possibility of down-the-line surprises and potential derailing of the plan.

While keeping costs down may be advantageous, it is vital not to lose sight of the top priority; understanding the target customer segments. 

Customer data extracted through the collaborative JBP can help maintain product stock levels, illustrate demand and identify trends in product distribution. Without this information, even a theoretically perfect Joint Business Plan will fail. Understanding who the customers are and what they are buying better enables CPG companies and retailers to produce and distribute - keeping the customer’s needs at the crux of their strategy.

It’s important to note that Joint Business plans are not one-size-fits-all; it may take more time to differentiate a plan to make it more tailored to a specific relationship, but the benefits can outweigh the expense.

Research by POI illustrates that 58% of CPG companies are struggling with retailer aligned compliance for store-level promotion execution. Clearly, there is a concerted need to ensure in-real time that assured promotions are being carried out, but 27% of CPG companies do not get any real-time insights into retailer compliance, forcing them to wait until the end of a cycle to make any significant changes.

While promotion compliance isn’t a new issue in the Consumer Goods industry, it can be a major roadblock to a JBP. With teams in the field, far more regular compliance checks can be performed and the information shared much wider, much faster. 

The dialogue between each party needs to continue beyond initial negotiations and agreements. Regular meetings provide opportunities to correct mid-cycle issues, where the retailer and CPG company can align on real-time results and solutions. 

Without clearly defined and tracked performance metrics, the success of the JBP is uncertain. Both parties need to agree on what data sources are going to be reviewed. Expectations must be laid out internally and externally, to establish what each side hopes to get out of the arrangement. This will prevent potential disappointment if or when unaired expectations aren’t met. 

It is also important to have discussed and agreed upon the terms and investment in the JBP. Going into a project aware of the value that each business is adding to the other and being able to quantify the ROI is fundamental to a successful Joint Business Plan.

As shown in the recent Promotion Optimization Institute (POI) State of the Industry Report , 64% of manufacturers have challenges when looking for data from retailers. When data is such a foundational element to gainful retailer partnerships, it needs to be shared. The ideal is to involve teams from across the company including distribution, sales, finance and marketing. Siloed internal communication can negatively impact information sharing and lead to failure of a JBP.

CPG companies need to leverage real-time insights pulled from a range of commercial data sources that allow them to optimize strategies based on their business goals and current supply and promotion constraints. This maximises the value of every dollar invested in trade spend.

Closely aligned with the tenets of Bain's Key Account Management Commercial Excellence framework, Aforza drives Joint Business Planning with an end-to-end platform of core functionalities:

Account 360° View : Gain a complete view of an account's hierarchies and key relationships, as well as visibility into all engagement activity across channels.

Real-time Data & Insights on Account Performance: Get real-time insights, from a range of commercial data sources, across all aspects of your key account performance.

Integrated Trade Promotions: Optimize trade spend and target key customers by displaying a real-time view into promotion performance, inventory levels, sales order insights, budgets & funds, plans & objectives.

Retail Execution Checks from Field Sales Teams: Leverage your teams in the field to check key account compliance and take promotion-based order capture with penny-perfect pricing on mobile; online or offline .

Digital Asset Management : Ensuring all important business documents are centralised and accessible against the account, such as contracts and Joint Business Plans.

Check out this demo from Aforza's Chief Product Officer, Nick Eales, as he showcases how leading Consumer Goods companies are leveraging Aforza to create productive account collaborations that unlock revenue potential like never before:

With industry-leading innovations and capabilities, the Aforza cloud & mobile solution continues to help consumer goods companies sell more and grow faster. Take the first steps now and create productive account collaborations that unlock revenue potential like never before.

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Joint Business Planning at WOW Tech

WOW Tech Group was founded in 2018 with the coming together of two industry leaders, Womanizer Group Management GmbH from Germany and Standard Innovation Corporation from Canada.

Their stated mission is to be the premier provider of pleasure products that enable people all over the world to increase the satisfaction of their personal and sexual well-being.

With Aforza, WOW Tech enabled Joint Business Planning by allowing Key Account Managers (KAMs) to easily set up and manage account plans and set sales targets across various KPIs. 

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  • JBP: The Brave Approach to Writing a Joint Business Plan

How you can take the Brave Approach to Writing a Joint Business Plan – JBP – with a UK Supermarket:

Writing a Joint Business Plan (JBP), creating Joint Business plans, JBPs, or terms negotiations, as they can be known, are all relatively new phenomena in the world of supermarkets and suppliers. Whilst some supermarkets and suppliers, particularly the brands, have talked about joint business planning for some time, it is only in the last few years that it has become ‘business as usual’. Now featured in industry news and some Joint Business Plans are published online – This JBP is for Tesco and Nestle in Poland.

The first moves towards a JBP were made when Category Management and ECR made an appearance in the 1990s with tools like the Category Scorecard. Hard-nosed buyers and sceptical account managers reluctantly dipped their toes in the water of true collaboration. Though, as Stephen Covey writes in Habit 4 win:win, the only way forward is together for mutual benefit. The definition of joint business planning is to work with a collaborative mindset towards mutual goals agreed upon for the benefit of the supermarket, supplier and shopper.

The Brave Approach to Writing a Joint Business Plan with a UK Supermarket is about helping UK supermarket suppliers to identify their true business objectives . Also, to understand what is strategic planning, identify the business terms and create a business plan that is worth having for both parties. Here are 7 brave moves that should be taken in The Brave Approach to Writing a Joint Business Plan with a UK Supermarket. This is because a supplier that does, will be best in class:

1. Stating the Blindingly Obvious – A Joint Business Plan is All About Trust

In Accenture’s free report on joint business planning, they talk of a change in mindset for both parties to achieve ‘Increased trust among parties’. And, of course, Accenture is right that trust is absolutely essential for a joint business plan to be effective. Plus, the IGD industry survey on Category Management Capability and Partnership of 2014, said that ‘Too often trust is the biggest barrier to putting any proposal into action’.

The challenge is that trust is hard to build and even harder to understand, particularly for people representing two large companies, where the aim is to make as much money as you can, usually by giving the other party less.

Discussing trust can be a sensitive topic and a brave topic to raise. Doing so provides a solid foundation to build upon. The simple choice is to either raise these issues now or to become frustrated when nothing happens. Better now because both parties are wanting to build a future together.

Action: Add ‘Building further trust’ as an early agenda point in your joint business planning meeting.

Purple trust equation for leadership skills

2. KISS is the Route that Succeeds Most with Joint Business Plans

KISS Keep It Simple Stupid acronym with kiss icon in pink

KISS is a mnemonic that is often said and rarely used. In joint business planning the watch out is not to write a joint business plan together where people spend days locked away in darkened rooms solving the vision, the big category problems, discussing shopper switching, the next range review, why promotions don’t work, and the ‘kitchen sink’. The challenge and the brave approach is to work on less to achieve more.

Scoping what both parties want to achieve is essential and then identifying the 80:20 of those items. The objectives will be easily identified and usually around, ‘To write a joint business plan that delivers x growth/market share/sales by <date>’. The scope is hard. The important part because it might be just to complete a simple one-page document showing:

  • Category Targets
  • Category Measures
  • Enabling Big Projects
  • Project Milestones
  • Ways of Working

This document could be just one page. But it is a bought-in, thrashed and motivating page. A page that both parties agree to start with and then review in 3 months. An 18-month plan is about the right timescale to tackle a joint business plan. There are those that will advocate 3 years and even 5-year business plans are needed. The challenge is that most supermarket buyers will not be in place beyond 18 months, and many account managers too.

Action: Agree on the scope of the joint business plan. Divide a page into two, headed up with the scope and then 2 columns; In and Out. Agree on what is in scope, e.g. Discussions that are big picture and what is out of scope, e.g. The day-to-day detail.

3. Naming the Big Project Outcomes is the Key to Success

In our Time Management Training course we talk with the learners about the importance of having a project list and describe the daily to-do list as the wheels of a car, and the project list as the steering wheel. Those without a project list fail to steer towards their KPIs and KRAs , preferring to work on the day-to-day, refusing to acknowledge the big stuff and claiming that they are ‘too busy’.

The same is true of joint business plans and the key is to define the outcome. Instead of writing ‘Promotions Project’, change it to a project outcome title, which could be ‘Promotions Adding Sales of £5m p.a.’. Whilst a subtle change, the difference is that if no traction is made the impact is obvious – £5m lost. Plus, it is less likely that the person will remove the project when the outcome is obvious, and the project owner can genuinely begin with the end in mind – £5m sales to identify.

Making traction on the big projects is essential to see early progress on joint business planning. For each big project, the collaborators need to agree on the first 3 practical and simple actions. These 3 actions will get the project moving. Even if those actions are to get together for 1 hour to brainstorm. Maybe brainstorm how to achieve £5m additional sales from promotions. It is imperative that these debates are not tackled at the Business Planning meeting. This is because it is ‘scope creep’. Which means that it is against the scope that was agreed. Plus, the meeting will achieve very little because too much is trying to be achieved.

Action: Change project titles to project outcomes and agree on the first 3 practical and simple steps for each project.

4. A Simple Dashboard Every 2 Weeks to Keep Things Moving

The experience of most people is that business plans are built with love and sit on a shelf with hate. Their examples have taught them that joint business planning is a necessary evil and ultimately achieves very little.

The brave move is to change your mindset. Get out of the self-fulfilling prophecy, by doing Joint Business Plans differently to the last 10 times. Helping to achieve that is a simple dashboard showing the Category Targets, Category Measures, Enabling Big Projects, Project Milestones, & Ways of Working and most importantly, the progress, with a short commentary. Ideally, on one page, the dashboard is published every 2 weeks. Fortnightly because 1 week is not long enough to see progress and one month is too long if progress is going off-course.

Motorcycle Dashboard with lights and meters

By having a dashboard the joint business plan is kept alive.

Action: Propose a simple dashboard that is to be published every 2 weeks, for the group to approve.

Free Download: JBP Template

Please contact us if you have any questions, 5. reviewing the joint business plan quarterly together.

A smaller team is a brave move. This is because, during the landing of Category Management and ECR in the 90s, the supermarket team and the supplier team would be around 12 people each.

Whilst this was more a demonstration of collaboration and ‘equalling the fight’ than anything else, progress was slow. Nowadays a smaller team can achieve more if they accept that their accountability is to get the information, persuade the other departments, and basically make progress, not being able to cite every other department in their company as the reason for not achieving the required progress.

A smaller team should meet every quarter with the only point on the agenda to discuss the joint business plan. These dates need to be diarised for the full 18 months. Again, the scope is important because the temptation will be to discuss the other 100 issues that need addressing. But bravely accepting that the joint business plan, if delivered, will achieve everyone’s goals, then this is the only topic of discussion.

Beginning with a refresh of what the joint business plan looks like, the agenda should look like this:

  • Refresh the joint business plan.
  • Ways of Working – Have these been adhered to? What else needs to be done?
  • Performance Vs the agreed targets.
  • Project progress Vs the agreed milestones.
  • Discuss the usefulness of the dashboard, not being tempted to make it too onerous.
  • Run through the actions stating what, who and when very clearly and emailed before everyone leaves. Our top tip is to capture actions on email as the meeting progresses. Not afterwards because each one is likely to be re-debated.
  • Agree on the date of the next meeting.

Action: Propose dates for the next 18 months and a suggested agenda.

6. Strategic Thinking is the Essential Skill

In the most recent IGD trading survey both suppliers and supermarkets ranked ‘strategic alignment’ and ‘long term planning’ as important now and even more important in the future. The supermarkets said that having these skills was what a supermarket would expect from a ‘best in class’ supplier. Strategic Thinking , as well as being one of those overly used terms and mystifying skills, has now become essential to joint business planning. So much so that job advertisements are asking for applicants to have joint business planning experience. Strategic thinking, strategic planning, and having strategic objectives are about being able to see the big picture, identify insights with high impact and make them happen. The skills of joint business planning are the same, as well as an effective use of some negotiation skills.

Bar graphs for Strategic Alignment and Long Term Planning for retailers and suppliers

The brave move would be to initiate a joint business plan with the supermarket and begin to implement this roadmap to category growth. Action: Read this post on strategic thinking and consider an executive coach to prepare you for your next JBP so that you are the best version of yourself when you negotiate, share your big-picture thoughts and discuss trust.

7. These Critical Meetings are ‘Must Win Meetings’ for Any Supermarket Supplier

Initiating, or being invited to a Joint Business Plan meeting, is pivotal to every supplier because, of course, terms are negotiated and the outcome will have a high impact on the supplier’s annual performance, but also a Joint Business Plan meeting is an opportunity to demonstrate ‘best in class’. Best in class for category understanding, shopper understanding, supermarket understanding, possible solutions, and how to manage these plans to make them work.

For these reasons, the preparation for a must-win meeting must be to achieve the old adage of ‘sweat in training, no need to bleed in battle’. Role plays are an undervalued tool for preparing and for getting the heads-up on those things that could not be predicted and are yet to happen. When millions of pounds can be at stake for one meeting, it pays to be prepared, and ask the experts for help to be the very best version possible.

Action: Book a role play with a suitable colleague/s so that you can sweat in training, or contact us for help. See our Fyffes testimonial for how we supported them.

A Summary of the 7 Brave Moves 

Here is a summary of the 7 brave moves that should be taken in The Brave Approach to Writing a Joint Business Plan with a UK Supermarket because a supplier that does, will be best in class:

  • Stating the blindingly obvious – It’s all about trust.
  • KISS is the route that succeeds most with joint business plans.
  • Naming the Big Project Outcomes is the Key to Success.
  • A Simple Dashboard Every 2 Weeks to Keep Things Moving.
  • Reviewing the Joint Business Plan Quarterly Together.
  • Strategic Thinking is the Essential Skill.
  • JBP Meetings are ‘Must Win Meetings’ for Any Supermarket Supplier.

What is your top tip for writing a JBP? Please share your view by commenting at the end of this article.

Creating a JBP that Includes the Required Elements of the Groceries Code Adjudicator 

Only 1 in 2 Suppliers has a written supply agreement according to research by the Groceries Code Adjudicator (Slide 16). A written supply agreement is often a joint business plan. Therefore here is a checklist of often-forgotten items that should form part of the written supply agreement/JBP:

  • Payment terms
  • Marketing costs, e.g. artwork, packaging, consumer research, or hospitality
  • Payments for wastage

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Feel free to get in touch. Simply fill out the form below or email us at  [email protected] , and we will be happy to get back to you with further information.

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Inspired by Insight

Joint business planning with retailers offers a route to success for fmcg suppliers.

FMCG suppliers able to develop strategic joint business plans that inspire commitment from retail partners are the ones that will be best placed to succeed over the next few years.

Bridgethorne Training Academy , which delivers Key Account Management, Category and Shopper capability development programmes, says suppliers should consider why retail partners would want to sign up to a joint business plan with them and what that plan could encompass in each case.

“The evidence is clear,” explains Paul Weiss, Bridgethorne Training Academy’s Director of Capability Development. “The McKinsey Customer & Channel Management Survey said that leading customer organisations that made the right bets for growth, built better capabilities and collaborated more effectively with their top retail customers emerged from the economic storm better and stronger than their peers and enjoyed share gains, growth and margin expansion. Suppliers need to heed that advice and start looking at how to develop joint business plans with their retailers.”

Successful joint business plans, continued Weiss, will include initiatives to drive category and brand growth, based on solid shopper insight; a way of tracking operational performance and shelf availability, and ways in which the brand and the retailer can collaborate on best in class events and activities, both in and out of store.

“Joint Business Planning is not a guarantee of investment or profit, it’s not the end of negotiations with your retail customer – there will always be challenges – and it should certainly be a continuous process rather than an annual event,” continues Weiss.

“But it should be focused on joint creation and ownership of activity to deliver something that makes a genuine difference to both brand and retailer performance.”

Bridgethorne Training Academy offers a series of workshops to help suppliers

understand the principles and structure of joint business plans: to understand the development process; how to engage with retailers; how to create an outline joint business plan for specific customers and categories, as well as how to plan initial retailer engagement.

“It’s important when you consider a joint business plan that you understand the retailer’s business and needs as well as your own, so that the collaborative partnership is working from a genuinely shared agenda with co-developed initiatives.”

“The other keys to success are knowing the right customers with which to approach a joint business plan; having a clearly defined process that is genuinely collaborative; building in timing that allows effective implementation from both the supplier and retailer’s perspective and having the resource, capability and customer relationships in place to make the process work.”

Bridgethorne Training Academy delivers interactive, practical training and development based on real-life scenarios, run using proven techniques by experienced practitioners and trainers, which can be applied immediately in a business, to build both individual and organisational capability.

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Course Description

This approach to Joint Business Planning (JBP) is rooted in an alignment process between the customer and seller (Manufacturer, Broker, Suppler, etc) that produces breakthrough business plans. The objective of JBP is to drive alignment of goals, strategies and action plans between the two collaborative partners.

Learning Objectives

  • Customer Profile Development
  • Situation Assessment & Opportunity Identification
  • Alignment Process focused on Priorities
  • Joint Business Plan Session including Scorecards and Strategies
  • Joint Action Plan Development and Work Teams
  • Instructor led
  • Experiential

Target Audience

Any person from a Manufacturer, Retailer, Distributor or Agency, within the Consumer Product Goods industry, who seeks a more advanced understanding of Joint Business Planning. Typical participants include roles such as Category Managers, Buyers, Merchandisers, Customer Team leaders, Account Executives, Marketing Managers, Pricing & Promotion Managers, Finance Managers, Business Managers, Operations Managers, Retail or Sales Strategy Managers, Trade Marketers, Supply Chain Managers, Category Analysts, etc.

Supported Behaviors

Strategic Business Planning Analysis & Insights Trading Partner Development

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Supplier management toolkit and guidance for leaders

This toolkit has been developed for programme managers who are looking to set up and run a supplier management programme in their agency.

It will assist you with ongoing supplier management practices within your agency and add value to those that have only just begun their supplier management journey. It provides best practice guidance for managing strategic supplier relationships and will ultimately strengthen your overall supplier relationships.

This toolkit consists of the following three sections:

Setting up the supplier management programme

Implementing supplier management.

  • Mobilisation

To set up a successful supplier management programme, you should complete:

  • The supplier management value proposition -  A value proposition captures supplier management value and how this translates to benefits.
  • Supplier segmentation -  Segmentation helps agencies determine which suppliers are most critical to achieving their objectives.
  • Supplier engagement strategies -  Engagement strategies to be adopted with suppliers, based on the level of supplier relationship.

The supplier management value proposition

The supplier management value proposition helps you to identify additional value from strategic supplier relationships beyond the original contract. The process sets up supplier management initiatives to capture additional value through collaboration with strategic suppliers.

How to create your supplier management value proposition

Create your supplier management value proposition by following the steps outlined below. This will create a clear line of sight to your strategic objectives.

  • Identify the Government’s strategic objectives that are relevant to your agency’s initiatives. This could include broader outcomes or other procurement outcomes.
  • Identify your agency’s strategic objectives and understand how you will deliver these.
  • Finally, what is your supplier management strategy? Make sure that your supplier management strategy supports your agency’s strategic objectives, which aligns to the Government’s strategic objectives.

Further information on the Government’s priority broader outcomes is available on our website.

Broader outcomes

Measuring and sharing the value

The value proposition predicts additional value through effective management of strategic suppliers. The key principle is to engage stakeholders and secure support for the programme.

It is important to develop a method to capture direct and indirect value.

Direct value is measured financially through factors such as:

  • cost reduction/avoidance – exempt from incurring future costs, eg a reduction of proposed price increase from a supplier
  • net present value – captures the total value of a potential investment opportunity
  • return on investment – evaluates the efficiency of an investment.

Indirect value can be documented through case studies that are validated by the agencies.

SRM focuses on collaboration and finds ways to recognise the supplier contribution. This may include direct financial recognition, supplier awards and positive publicity.

Supplier segmentation

Objectives of segmentation.

The segmentation process helps you to understand risks and opportunities presented by supplier relationships. It applies a range of criteria against each supplier to determine operational criticality and strategic importance.

Segmentation allows you to make informed choices on allocation of resource, time and effort. It also allows you to deliver the expected contracted value and create additional value beyond contractual obligations.

Segmentation principles

  • Segmentation indicates the engagement strategies that could be adopted.
  • Segmentation uses multiple weighted criteria to assess the risk and opportunity presented by supplier relationships.
  • Segmentation takes into account both category and supplier attributes.
  • Segmentation should be reviewed on a regular basis (eg annually).

Segmentation process

The segmentation process is broken down into three steps:

Step 1 - Category segmentation

In a category segmentation, group your contracts according to products and/or services. For example, professional services, utilities, IT hardware and software as a solution.

You should then segment categories based on the criticality of supply and expenditure to create a clear picture of how significant each category is. You can do this by:

  • Capturing data at the category level.
  • Identifying weighted criticality criteria.
  • Evaluating each category against the questions.
  • Maintaining a central record and re-validate annually.

The category segmentation should be completed annually and endorsed by relevant stakeholders and the procurement team. The output identifies each category’s criticality to the business.

  • Category segmentation template [XLSX, 121 KB]

Step 2 - Supplier segmentation

In a supplier segmentation, group your suppliers based on their value potential and criticality to differentiate between suppliers within the same category. You can do this by:

  • Capturing value potential information by supplier
  • Identifying weighted supplier criticality criteria
  • Evaluating each supplier against the question set
  • Reviewing your supplier segmentation matrix

This process assesses the individual suppliers by using a set of weighted criteria; suppliers are positioned based on criticality and value potential.

Criticality considers factors including:

  • Ability to consistently supply
  • Ease of accessing alternative supplier
  • Impact on compliance with regulatory and sustainability obligations
  • Criticality to performance

Value potential includes factors such as:

  • Supplier’s ability to provide value
  • Supplier’s likeliness to co-operate

The output places each supplier into one of the nine boxes, as illustrated in the figure below.

The nine-box model provides guidance on how each supplier should be managed. The focus of supplier management is dependent on where the supplier sits in the 9-box model below.

srm 9-box model

  • Supplier segmentation template [XLSX, 193 KB]

Step 3 - Segmentation validation

After each segmentation cycle, the validation stage ensures you are managing suppliers at the correct tier and you get stakeholder buy-in.

Complete the validation using the following steps:

  • Identify and engage the appropriate stakeholders.
  • Document segmentation results.
  • Have appropriate engagement strategies available.
  • Discuss and refine output as appropriate.

Look for suppliers who cross several categories. For example, if a supplier is segmented a number of times (eg in different categories) as a Tier 2 supplier, there may be a case for promotion to Tier 1 supplier. This situation is something that can also be resolved based on ‘feel’ or the opinions of individuals within your organisation.

Supplier engagement strategies

Supplier engagement strategies by level.

The level of engagement required with a supplier can be determined by dividing the chart into tiers to help you decide how to allocate resources.

srm 9-box model with tiers

Tier 1– Strategic

Suppliers in this tier should go through all the recommended engagement strategies.

Tier 2 – Collaborative

Very similar to those at Tier 1, however the executive level sponsors may be less senior, and meetings will be less frequent.

Tier 3 – Managed

Focus on basic contract, risk, and performance management where deemed necessary. There shouldn’t be a need for relationship management activities for suppliers in this tier.

Tier 4 – Tactical

Suppliers in this tier will have relatively low value potential and relatively low criticality. Engagement strategies at this level should focus on transactional efficiency and maintaining governance.

The following section lists the specific engagement strategies for the supplier relationships from the segmentation process. The ’ticks’ specify the activities that are essential under each tier.

Relationship management and development

  • Contract management

Performance management

Cost management, risk management, continuous improvement, value creation and innovation, transactional efficiency, meeting structure and frequency.

The arrangement of structured review meetings with the supplier’s client-facing team and internal stakeholders should be arranged by the Relationship Manager, once roles and responsibilities have been assigned.

These meetings should be established at a set frequency throughout the life cycle of the supplier relationship. This should be consistent with the level of interaction required by the engagement strategy. The list of attendees required to join each meeting will depend on the type of meeting. The type of meeting can be classified into three levels:

  • Relationship
  • Operational

Consider pre-existing and well-functioning governance structures and scheduled meetings. Where robust structures are already in place, there may not be a need to change. Adding an agenda item to address supplier management objectives may be sufficient.

The type and frequency for each type of meeting are in the tables below. This allows a degree of flexibility for face-to-face interaction with suppliers. As a minimum, the subsequent meeting frequencies should be followed.

The agenda for these meetings should also be structured and agreed in advance with internal agency participants and with the supplier.

Strategic meetings

The strategic meetings are a senior forum attended by executives from both parties in the relationship. Its primary purpose is to review, discuss and agree the strategic direction of the relationship. It will review progress against the joint objectives and the joint business plan.

Agency attendees

  • Executive Relationship Owner
  • Lead Agency/Agency Relationship Manager
  • Other stakeholders as required

Supplier attendees

  • AoG Relationship Manager
  • Account Manager

Suggested frequency

  • Minimum bi-annual 

Suggested agenda

  • Strategic highlights and challenges of the previous period – both parties
  • Strategic highlights and challenges for the next 12 to 18 months – both parties
  • Review relationship scorecard
  • Strategic risk review
  • Areas to focus on for more strategic alignment and collaboration – both parties
  • Review current joint business plan – celebrate success and address challenges – refresh plan and commitment
  • Review and resolve any escalated risks or issues
  • Any other business.

Relationship meetings

The Relationship meeting is the forum intended to drive the delivery of the supplier relationship strategy via the joint business plan. The forum should be designed to review and manage the relationship development and value opportunities. By exception, it also serves as a point of escalation for any issues that cannot be resolved at the Operational level.

Suggested frequency  

  • Minimum quarterly

Suggested agenda  

  • Review current joint business plan – celebrate success and address challenges
  • Review plan and initiative/work stream pipeline
  • Agree agenda for upcoming strategic meeting.

Operational meetings

Operational meetings should take place to monitor and maintain performance standards, in line with the agreed contract and joint business plan.

  • Agency Relationship Manager
  • Operational Relationship Manager
  • Minimum monthly
  • Review of delivering all Supplier Partnership initiatives / work streams
  • Contractual performance review.

Internal strategic meetings

Internal alignment is critical to the success of SRM initiatives, and a consistent application of SRM processes across the agency will provide high quality outcomes. The Procurement Lead should engage relevant stakeholders to ensure continued agency commitment to the joint business plan.

  • Procurement Functional Lead
  • Evaluate the delivery of SRM initiatives
  • Assessment of overall supplier performance across the organisation
  • Review accountability and information across the different levels to enhance management decisions
  • Strategic highlights and lessons learned from the previous period
  • Strategic highlights and challenges for the next 12 to 18 months
  • Review relationship Balance scorecard for each business unit
  • Identify areas to focus on for better strategic alignment and collaboration
  • Review and resolve any escalated risks or issues.

The New Zealand Government relies heavily on suppliers to deliver many different products and services. Robust implementation of a clear supplier relationship management framework, processes, and tools allows us to leverage the full potential of government as a customer.

There are several activities which form a supplier relationship management framework. Critical elements to consider include:

Value opportunities beyond the contract

  • Internal and supplier kick-off meetings

Supplier relationship management value proposition

Stakeholder engagement, responsibility, accountability, consultation, and information (raci).

Supplier relationship management (SRM) offers the potential to create and deliver value that extends across the organisation. Listed below are examples of value opportunities that can be approached collaboratively with key suppliers.

Contract, performance, and risk optimisation

The supplier should adhere to the documented measures to capture the intended value of the contract. These include:

  • Governance protocols
  • Risk management policies

Manage the contract

Supplier innovation

Use a relationship model that encourages the sharing of information. This can include supplier forums that focus on the sharing of new ideas or implementing discussions around innovation into strategic meetings. Ultimately, a supplier will be more willing to discuss their product/service developments. In addition, the better they understand your own challenges the more likely they will increase supplier willingness to design innovative solutions.

Customer of choice

A ‘customer of choice’ is an organisation that, through its practices and behaviours, positions itself as a preferred customer to its key suppliers. SRM encourages the likelihood of becoming a ‘customer of choice’ through emphasis on collaboration, multi-level supplier relationships and partnership development.

Customers of choice enjoy a range of benefits including:

  • Suppliers' prioritisation of your needs
  • Additional resource allocation
  • Preferential assignment of supplier resources
  • Preferential pricing
  • General responsiveness and willingness to ‘go the extra mile’

What makes a customer attractive to a supplier:

  • Brand – suppliers aspire to work with well-known organisations that are well-positioned in their market and can provide long-term business continuity and stability.
  • Revenue and profitability – suppliers are attracted by organisations that have budgets and demand that will create a good revenue stream and a reasonable margin.
  • Ease of doing business – suppliers value relationships where it is easy to do business, where the cost to serve is minimised.

It is generally considered that ease of doing business is the one element that will sustain a healthy relationship and contribute most towards being a customer of choice. This can be achieved by paying attention to the attributes that suppliers deem most important in building a successful relationship.

Transactional efficiency and ease of doing business

The benefits of improving transactional efficiency are clear in terms of cost and time, however, transactional efficiency is also important. In many cases, simple transactional details such as timeliness and payment improve supplier relationships.

Risk reduction

Working collaboratively with suppliers to better anticipate changes to risk profiles. Also, proactively develop joint mitigation strategies with suppliers.

Social and environmental policy

Working closely with suppliers on sustainability to better understand and mitigate risk exposure. This will drive improvement and enable you to achieve your policy objectives.

Negotiation outcomes

SRM achieves better outcomes for both parties through reduced time spent negotiating, less legal involvement, more responsible allocation of risk, and more win-win outcomes.

Issue resolution

By implementing the SRM governance model principles, you create structures and behaviours to resolve issues quickly and equitably. This can avoid costly litigation and breakdown of strategic supplier relationships.

SRM value is based on a set of value opportunities on the supplier’s side, that will be applicable to you. The supplier value opportunities are key to obtaining engagement and support from suppliers.

  • Supplier relationship management value proposition [DOCX, 129 KB]

Analysis and management strategies

Stakeholder engagement and support is essential for the success of the supplier relationship management (SRM) programme. The stakeholder management tool helps identify internal and external stakeholders, establish current stakeholder influence and support for SRM. This helps you develop appropriate management strategies and engagement plans.

  • Stakeholder management tool [DOCX, 157 KB]

Communication strategies

An effective communication strategy facilitates the change management needed to improve supplier relationships. Your communications strategy should establish clear objectives, audiences, messages, tools and activities, resources and timescales.

Your objectives are the key to the success of your communications strategy. They should ensure that your communications strategy is organisationally driven rather than communications driven. Your communications activity is not an end in itself but should serve and hence be aligned with your objectives. Ask yourself what you can do within communications to help you achieve your objectives. Work with your own agency communications colleagues and protocols.

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities across all activities and interactions with the supplier is fundamental to effective supplier relationship management.

A typical approach involves listing all activities and interactions with a given supplier and allocating responsibility, accountability, consultation, and information against the supplier management roles identified in the operating model.

In the case of more complex supplier relationships that span several agencies, the output should be a single RACI for each supplier relationship.

Other approaches to the RACI model are described under ‘Set up governance and project structure’.

Set up governance and project structure

  • Responsibility, Accountability, Consultation, and Information (RACI) template [DOCX, 313 KB]

Internal and supplier kick off meetings

The internal and the supplier kick-off meetings bring together the key supplier relationship management stakeholders. Attendees for the internal kick-off meeting may include the Executive Relationship Owner, Relationship Manager, and other internal stakeholders. Attendees for the supplier kick-off meeting include the Executive Relationship Owner, Relationship Manager, and the Account Manager. The supplier will likely have attendees representing the same functions from their business.

The objective of these meetings is to agree on the approach, activities, milestones, timelines, roles, responsibilities and expectations for the supplier relationship management programme.

A typical internal kick-off meeting agenda will consist of:

  • Meeting purpose and desired outcomes
  • Recap the supplier relationship strategy and expectations
  • Discuss and validate the supplier relationship management value opportunities
  • Discuss and validate the governance, reporting and RACI.

In addition to the meeting agenda items from the internal kick-off meeting, a typical supplier kick-off meeting agenda will also consist of:

  • Discuss and validate the supplier’s value proposition
  • Next steps – share the mobilisation plan.
  • Kick-off meeting template [DOCX, 314 KB]

Mobilisation stage

The mobilisation stage acknowledges that each use of the SRM toolkit will be unique to each situation – and to each relationship between supplier and internal stakeholders. The templates and tips in the set-up and implementation phase are there to help you progress towards a joint business planning workshop and ultimately the creation of a joint business plan.

The SRM value proposition template and the kick-off meeting template can be used by agencies and suppliers to help identify potential value creating opportunities. These can be brought to a joint business planning workshop.

Joint business planning workshop

This workshop is used to develop and commit to a joint business plan. The workshop will review and validate core elements of the SRM programme, including the supplier value proposition, the state of the relationship, value creation opportunities, engagement, governance, and the joint business plan.

A typical workshop agenda should cover the following:

Joint business plan

Joint business plan (JBP) is the vehicle to manage and deliver joint objectives for the New Zealand Government and suppliers. The JBP serves a dual purpose as a planning and a reporting tool.

  • Joint business plan template [DOCX, 322 KB]

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Joint Business Planning 2.0 Transforms Trading Relationships

By Ric Noreen


Most sales organizations engage in some type of Joint Business Planning (JBP) with their largest customers, but many such implementations do not leverage JBP to its fullest potential. In most cases, the supplier prepares the joint plan unilaterally and with little input from trading partners, making the plan more of a one-sided mandate of activity. The plans are typically written to support a supplier's point of view and the supplier's priorities, subjugating the retailer or distributor's own strategies and priorities.

Such plans are also frequently created with a short-term focus, which prevents larger ideas from taking hold. And, the lack of a shopper or end-user focus prevents the plans from achieving desired growth targets.

Rather than focusing on activity calendars and one-sided priorities, a better approach would be to ask the question, "What would a growth plan look like if we were one integrated company?" That JBP 2.0 approach goes beyond the too-common JBP activity, which is "joint" in name only, replacing it with a true level of collaboration that satisfies the needs of all trading partners, as well as customers. Such a facilitated process would be equally shared, collaboratively developed, and mutually invested.

Another common flaw which prevents a joint business plan from being transformative is a short-term focus, making it more of an annual operating plan rather than something truly strategic and forward-looking. A far more effective JBP will have a three- to four-year planning horizon, with a continuous arc of business-building activities relevant to long-term growth of both trading partners. The first year of the plan may still well function as an Annual Operating Plan, but also include a development of activities which are more forward-looking and lead to longer-term growth.

The first step of the process is insight, data collection, and analysis, with deep dives into consumer, category, and competitive insights, followed by polishing by each partner. Each team prepares an overview of their growth strategies and both partners dedicate one or two days to creating the plan together, sharing insights on each topic, with points of intersection noted.

Once those individual overviews have been created, both trading partners meet to create their plan together. During this one- to two-day planning session, the focus is truly collaborative, rather than one team leading the charge. Each team should have cross-functional subject matter experts present to help plan content.

Those insights evolve into four or five distinct growth platforms, which fall into three basic categories: growth infrastructure, market development, and innovation. In the growth infrastructure area, platforms may include data sharing, joint market research, supply chain efficiency, and sales effectiveness. Market development platforms designed to create incremental demand may include factors such as optimization of product assortment and shelving innovation, integrated shopper marketing, and digital development. Finally, in the innovation category, platforms emphasize collaborative development.

These innovation platforms will typically have a longer development timetable and may be more complex, and will often require co-investment and a commitment from all parties. However, these are likely to have the greatest returns.

Such growth platforms are evergreen, with each initiative on each platform planned, commercialized, and launched each year, while the platforms themselves remain constant. The plan itself is continuous, with annual reviews recapping each year's successes and making any adjustments needed.

The key to a sustained commitment and execution is strong governance. At the very top, the plan requires co-owners on each side, with each platform requiring co-owners as well. At the initiative level, single-side ownership may work better, depending on the nature of the initiative, but teams will still be used to plan and execute.

A one-page plan should be created for each initiative, showing team members, resource requirements, and development milestones and timetables. Quarterly reviews will help reinforce that sustained commitment.

A truly collaborative approach to JBP transforms the relationship between trading partners, establishing the supplier as the category leader, and the retailer or distributor as a most-favored channel partner. Growth in this case is accelerated for both parties, especially since many of the initiatives that are developed and activated would not be possible for either party to carry out individually. The growth is more sustainable with a JBP 2.0 approach as new initiatives are continuously developed each year, and lastly, profitability is enhanced as costs are shared across partners.

Ric Noreen is managing partner at Waypoint Strategic Solutions , a boutique consultancy that helps clients worldwide design and implement channel-driven growth strategies. You can reach him at [email protected] .

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

joint business planning workshop

How to Create an Effective Joint Business Plan


For two businesses to form a joint venture, they need a plan that outlines the nature of the business coalition. A joint business plan defines the state of the companies involved, the purpose of the joint business and the partners’ responsibilities.

A joint business plan describes all the activities that these business ventures must carry out to achieve specific goals.

The relationship between the two parties and their goals must be clearly understood. After creating the business plan, it must go through a legal review to test its legitimacy. In your business planning, you work together in a collaborative relationship toward mutually agreed terms.

Business planning for joint ventures helps the parties leverage resources, reduce costs, combine expertise and/or enter foreign markets. A well-defined joint business plan is vital for any agreement and business strategy.

What is a joint business plan?

A joint business plan is a document that defines a merger between two or more companies. It describes the purpose and responsibilities of each partner in the incorporation. You may also see it as a collaborative process of planning where a supplier and retailer agree on both long- and short-term goals, including growth, finances and shared initiatives for profitability.

The purpose of a joint business plan is to design a win-win strategy for increasing consumer sales. This plan allows the partners to build a formidable relationship with retailers for mutual support and benefits. Having agreed upon goals, both parties share insights on a common vision for better support, customer growth, enhanced process and improved sales.

Business planning depends on interested parties sharing their plans with defined mutual growth opportunities. The partners can detail and share strategic planning, growth strategy, tactics and any area of competitive advantage.

The joint business plan is created once a partnership agreement is mutually beneficial and defined. Parties would draw up, approve and sign a formal contract before the execution of the plan. This is followed by a periodic review of joint scorecards based on necessary performance metrics to fine-tune strategies.

The joint business planning process comprises every possible logistic, including human resources planning and how to reach project milestones. Resource accountability is vital to building trust. Your best tool for transparent resource use and accountability is a resource planner .

If the employees of the venture will need to go to a different location, the venture will likely have difficulty planning their tasks and locations. TimeTrack Auto-Scheduling provides joint ventures with a transparent planning tool that reduces effort and enhances error-free shift planning.


TimeTrack Auto-Scheduling

Types of joint business plans

Standard plan.

This is often referred to as the working plan. It offers an overview of the company, outlines its goals, and details when and how entrepreneurs wish to achieve the goals. Such a plan helps secure funds, investments or loans. Within the plan, you could specify how you will use investor funds and their potential profits.

What-if plan

Sometimes things don’t go as planned in business. The what-if business plan defines the various roadblocks that a company might face as it strives to achieve its business objectives. The venture is largely at the whims of external factors, including the supply chain and stock market. You need to outline a predictable scenario to let business partners know how to recover their funds.

One-page plan

While a detailed plan is vital, there are instances where you will need to provide an abridged version of your plan. This one-page business plan outlines the summary of demand, solution, model, management team and action plan.

Start-up plan

A business plan for entrepreneurs, especially those in the early stages of their business planning, will need a start-up business plan. It is designed to give potential investors the bigger picture and outline how you want to achieve your goals. It often includes an executive summary, background, product and service descriptions, market analysis, costs and financial projections.

Expansion plan

This is a business plan that’s necessary when you need to scale your business and identify the necessary resources for its development. These could be financial investment, an additional workforce, new products or raw materials. This plan will detail the business background, needed resources and how they will contribute to growth and business expansion.

Operational plan

An operational business plan revolves around near-term goals , especially those you will work towards achieving within a year. It defines the activities your venture will focus on and emphasizes the role of the workforce and budgeting in achieving the operational goals. In most situations, the heads of departments are key participants in the operational plans because of the need for approval in achieving the goals.

Strategic business plan

This is different from the others because it focuses on how departments can work together. This venture plan is more comprehensive and requires senior-level approval before implementing goals. This plan answers the questions of how to achieve goals, what resources are needed and the execution plans for achieving the goals.


Joint business planning tips

Companies that benefit from a joint business plan

A joint venture exists mainly as a contract between new cooperating partners. In forming a joint venture, each of the business partners agrees to the assets they will bring to the table and how income and expenses will be shared.

While a joint venture is a corporation between two or more entities, each of the companies, be it an individual, company, corporation or group of individuals, still has its original legal status, though not all joint ventures result in a new business entity. These companies could be sole proprietorships or partnerships, limited partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies or non-profit organizations.

Examples of a joint business plan

Perhaps you have an online venture selling high-quality products at reasonable prices, while needing to increase brand strength. Such an example of a joint business plan outlines a company overview, executive summary, product and service offerings, marketing strategy, market analysis, budget and financial planning.

A joint business plan may be designed for ventures rendering menu services such as lattes, espresso, coffee, cappuccinos, and sandwiches. The business plan outlines an executive summary and studies your competition , target market, marketing plan, ownership structure and operational plan.

A joint venture could be designed around offering services such as shipping, faxing, postal and copying to residents to conduct research , create debate space and generate ideas. This example of a business plan will include an executive summary, a vision and mission statement, goals, objectives, and measures, organizational structure, marketing analysis and a financial plan.

Top strategies for effective joint business plan

In a joint business venture, there are risks which include rising complexity, cultural diversity, high failure rates and language diversity. The strategies detailed below will benefit the venture in navigating the challenges through effective joint business planning.

Strategic plan

Strategic global planning is an effective business practice for entering a new market. It helps to identify opportunities and threats. Before beginning strategic planning, be sure that a joint venture is the right action for you. Compare the strengths and weaknesses of the partners to confirm a good match. Your strategic plan should explain why you want to collaborate with that partner and what you hope to achieve, how to monitor trends and collect good data. Some of the reasons you may wish for a new joint partner may be to enter a new market, geographic expansion, financing, etc.

The right partner

The choice of partner is crucial, but what is more important is understanding the effectiveness of partners in delivering on their promises. Do your due diligence on your partner’s attitude toward collaboration, performance and level of commitment. What about sharing the same objectives?

Effective communication for a great relationship

After your investigation, if you deem the partner fit, find mutual ground. Communication is the key to a good relationship. Make sure your partner understands the foundation of the joint venture and agreement. Ensure they agree on human resources, financial contributions and goals. To consolidate the stability of your venture, be upfront, honest and transparent about your objectives.

Clarify how, what, and where

Be clear on the vision, strategic plans and scoreboard to ensure that everyone is energized and united about the goal. Define a common working pattern. This has to include conflict management, decision-making, collaboration, problem-solving and technology strategies. Focus on win-win solutions.

Track performance

Is everyone putting in the hours and making productive headway? One way to gauge this information is by time tracking. One of the challenges for companies whose employees work in shifts and in different locations is tracking attendance. TimeTrack Attendance Tracking helps companies monitor employees’ work hours and leave days, so that managers can stay up to date on potential delays.


TimeTrack Attendance Tracking

Once you have set out the goals and vision for the new venture, establish key performance indicators, the data you want to track and the process to measure those performance metrics. This involves creating a joint scorecard for each metric against trends and competition. The targets you set must guard against possible problems the partners might encounter.

Build trust

Your best joint business strategy is to build trust and create value, without which your partnership is bound to fail. Trust is the foundation of every partnership. It is an important factor in business planning. Without it, neither partner can succeed. How do you manage diverse cultures, interests and languages if the partners lack trust? Trust builds team strength and encourages creativity while promoting collaboration.

Good leadership

The cost of poor leadership is so high that you must not venture into joint partnership without assurance of good leadership. Focus on building good leadership and not just creating “bosses”. Leadership presents the biggest opportunities to change the performance narrative. Create a strong leadership team, from whom all employees can learn.

A joint business venture is not without its challenges. To ensure a successful collaboration, focus on a clear strategy, excellent communication, transparency and strong leadership.


I am a researcher, writer, and self-published author. Over the last 9 years, I have dedicated my time to delivering unique content to startups and non-governmental organizations and have covered several topics, including wellness, technology, and entrepreneurship. I am now passionate about how time efficiency affects productivity, business performance, and profitability.

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Testimonials – Joint Business Planning

joint business planning workshop

When your account teams need some help to understand how to plan for strategic accounts

“Liked going back over the SWOT analysis and then the more in-depth planning from the SoWOT factors” Account Developer
“Several great ideas – Multi functional Teams for planning – Develop a file of death – all the information in one place – the SoWOT factors” Key Account Developer
“Identification of which accounts are strategic and how the offer should be different in terms of time and spend” Business Account Manager

JOINT BUSINESS PLAN: Top 7 Secrets To Successful Joint Business Planning&

  • by Kenechukwu Muoghalu
  • August 14, 2023
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  • 8 minute read

Joint business plan

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What is joint business planning, what are the benefits of a joint business planning, what is a joint business plan , #1. have a plan, #2. choose the right joint venture partner , #3. communication, #4. define the where, what, and how, #5. monitor performance, #6. build trust, #1. how ready are you, #2. choose the right partner, #3. source business together, #4. ending a joint business planning, what if i lack the skills to create a joint business plan for myself, joint business plan faqs, what should be in a joint business plan, how do i set up a joint venture in the uk, how do you split profits in a joint business.

If you have plans to join a joint business, you have to understand the ethics of this venture before you proceed. You will need to set the right objectives for the business partnership. You will also need to have a joint business plan stipulated just for this course. There are a lot of processes, but not to worry. This article has exclusively explained what a joint business plan is and how it can help your investment, coupled with a sample template that can help make your journey easier. Let’s dig in!

Joint business planning is a collective effort between a vendor and a retailer. In this form of business, the two parties will be involved in the open sharing of information. However, it allows the joint parties to reach common ground and mutually agree on the business plan. I will give it a simpler definition, I need you to understand the basics of this Joint business planning. 

A joint business plan can also be said to be an agreement between two or more businesses in order to pool their resources to achieve a goal. It’s just like two or more people running a business. A joint partnership can be initiated in any business. A sample of this can even be found in jointly owning a personal trainer business and turning it into a joint business. 

They also share the risks and rewards of the investment. The joint companies also collectively own equal shares and put their heads together to make their investment successful. They work with trends, initiatives, and forecasted market environments. 

People can choose to open a joint venture for multiple reasons. It can be due to a business expansion, a new product development, or moving into new markets, especially internationally. Or just practicing the adage that says “two heads are better than one”. 

However, it can be difficult to build the right relationship that can boost the venture. But with the right resources, which includes having a joint business plan to serve as a guide, you would scale through. You should also know that Joint business planning with partners has proven to be one of the most effective ways to drive revenue and establish joint accountability.

Having talked about what a joint business venture is, now we will talk about having a plan that will serve as a guide through your investment. A joint business plan is a document that outlines a business coalition of two or more companies. This joint business plan is divided into several sections which state the companies involved, their purpose, and their responsibilities in the business. 

In summary, you can say that the plan contains temporary activities that can help achieve specific goals. What a proper joint business plan requires is to incorporate each party and make sure they clearly understand themselves and their goals. After the plan is been created, it will need to pass through a legal review just to test its legitimacy. 

Read Also: JOINT LOAN: Definition And All You Need To Know

Mind you, this joint business plan is above and beyond a standard business plan . It can also help you plan some measurable objectives, execution tactics, go-to-market, target account lists, and more. This business plan can serve you well, especially when it is for a joint business. Keeping track of all your business activities is a must because other people are involved in the investment. You can try checking your partner’s progress once in a while against the agreed plan.

Top 7 Secrets To a Successful Joint Business Planning

When it comes to joint business planning, there are secret tweaks that can help you scale through. You know Joint business comes with risks because of its joint partnership nature. Partnership most times can be diverse language, increased complexity, diverse cultures, and frequency of failure.

That is why we have formulated the top 7 secrets to having a successful partnership. Let’s take a quick rundown on them.

It always pays off to have a strategic plan on standby in your joint business. Your joint partnership should kick off with careful planning. To aim this, review your business strategy to see if a joint venture is even the best way to plan and achieve it. Consider the businesses involved, and compare their strengths and weaknesses to determine if it is a good match. Your strategic plan has to also answer why you want to partner with what you need to achieve from it. Is it for geographic expansion, new markets, or funding? Being clear will make the parties involved work towards achieving their objectives. 

Before going ahead to choose a partner, it is wise to determine how well they perform. Find out their attitude to collaboration and their level of commitment. Find out if you share the same business objectives with them, are the people you could trust? Do they have a nice reputation? These questions are necessary to determine who you are going into business with. Do your due diligence checks and don’t spend time having lunches with them. 

After your little investigation work on your partners, and hold a common ground with them if they fit. Communication can help build a relationship. Ensure that your partners understand what the basics of a Joint Business agreement really are. Are they clear on the goals, human resources, and financial contributions? This is the time to meet them, have those one-on-one meetings with them, communicate and make the best out of it. If you fail to plan like this, your joint business won’t be stable.

Create ways of working to energize and unite the partners involved. Map out the vision, strategic plans, and the scoreboard to make sure that everyone is following a common goal. Provide a common working pattern that includes decision-making, problem-solving, conflict management, collaboration, and technology. Find a way to deal with problems that occur, and look for win-win solutions instead of trying to score points off each other. 

When your partners have reached common ground on what the goal is, then let the work begin. You and your partners should also establish a clear performance indicator that allows you to measure your performance towards the goal. You should also set targets so that you can keep track of any possible problems that might occur. 

To be honest, this is the most crucial step in these secrets. You should understand that without trust, your Joint partnership will fail. There is no need to paint the truth to make it appear nice. Every team needs trust amongst themselves. Imagine having companies merging together, having diverse cultures, languages, and interests without trust. How do you think that ship will sail? When you have trust in someone, their differences turn into strengths. You will also tend to encourage creative challenges just to promote collaboration. This is an important factor that should not be ignored in your joint business planning.

This is another important variable that needs to exist in a Joint partnership because, without it, things will fail to happen. Invest in leadership, don’t focus on the senior leader, because even those leaders at the pointy ends will do just great. The reason for this action is that leaders tend to be the biggest opportunity to shift performance. You need to have a strong leadership team. And they must trust each other, connect, listen, and engage like no other. 

Joint Business Plan Template Checklist

To summarise all that is been said in this article, we have also included a sample template checklist that can help you prepare for and plan a successful Joint business. To make use of this joint business plan sample template effectively, you have to make sure that you follow all the options listed below. They include:

This is a joint business plan template you need to check off your list. Determine how ready you are, is your business also ready for the change? You can determine this by researching on the activities of other businesses. You can also carry out a SWOT analysis of your business. Compare your working methods with that of your partners and also involve your employees, tell them about your new plan.

This is been mentioned again for those at the back. It is crucial to choose the right partner. When choosing you should consider their existing customers and suppliers, their behavioral patterns, and also the available finances of the partners. 

Know the capabilities of your partners, and discover which has a specified responsibility. It can be sales activities, marketing, or new business generation. Each company should understand what they should work for and see that they achieve it. 

Most times, we should consider all possible factors because of the fear of the unknown. Your agreement with your partners should make provisions for terminating the joint partnership. In your agreement, make sure to include an exit strategy , specified ownership of assets in the business, and distribution of any weaknesses resulting from the joint venture. 

We got you, just right in time. We understand where it pains the most and we also understand why you would have so much difficulty creating a joint business plan for yourself even with the provision of a sample template. If this is you, then you need not worry.

Creating a business plan from scratch is no child’s play. It can even be harder while trying to use an existing plan to mold yours. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, because we have created a ready-made joint business plan just for your comfort.

This business plan does not require you to spend most of your day trying to figure out one section or the other. All you need to do is to apply directly to your joint business and watch it blossom. No long talks! Grab a copy of your joint business plan here !

It is certain that having Joint business planning can be difficult and challenging with tons of risks to take. But there is always a way around every hard obstacle. If you carry your Joint partnership and nurture it in the right way while following all the rules that apply, then you won’t have a problem.

These rules can be either creating a Joint Business plan or following some basic factors that can help maneuver your way through the investment or even using a sample template. When you follow the rules and secrets that guide them, then your investment won’t be the same. If it gets too hard, then contact us here.

To acquire a successful joint business plan, you need to ensure that both parties involved are capable of understanding each other’s goals. They should also understand the nature of their business and customer requirements. When they are on a mutual level, their foundation becomes strong.

To set up your joint business in the United Kingdom you will need to check the exact legal status of the new business. You can also begin due diligence on your joint partners. Know the financial commitment and how profits can be earned.

Before splitting the profits in a joint business, you must ensure that all business partners are in agreement about the profit-sharing. It can be split equally or on a different base according to the original agreement.

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SPE/EAGE Joint Workshop Modelling: Best Practices and Innovative Approaches 2018

March 20 - 21, 2018 Completed

Russia , Moscow, Moscow


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The field modelling has always been a powerful tool for integration and data analysis, the essential part of field development design.

This year at the fifth-anniversary workshop we will discuss: Session 1: Modernized Approaches and Technologies Modeling. Session 2: Role of Modeling in Decision-Making. Session 3: Integrated Modeling: From Geology to Economics. Session 4: Uncertainty Analysis as a Tool for Risk Reduction. Session 5: Geomechanical Modeling. Practical Application, Results, Trends. Round Table Modeling: Future, Trends and Prospects. Venue Details: Hotel Borodino, Rusakovskaya Street 13, Building 5, Moscow 107140, Russia. Time: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm. Category: Classes / Courses | Professional Training | Classes, Courses & Workshops. Sub-Categories: Conferences | Energy & Environment | Oil & Gas, Classes / Courses | Professional Training. Artists / Speakers: Amir Ismagilov, Lenar Minikhairov, Kazan Federal University; Aliya Bashirova, Olga Emchenko, Eduard Viktorov, UfaNIPIneft; Dmitry Mett, Tatiana Nikolaeva, LUKOIL-Engineering; Timur Vafin, Aloil; Ekaterina Samokhina, Ivan Evdokimov, Roxar; Valery Starosvetskov, VolgogradNIPImorneft; Anes Abayuly, KazNIPImunaygas; Kirill Kordik, KogalymNIPIneft; Alejandro Ganzo, Baker Hughes; Daniil Alchibaev, Sergey Kaygorodov, Gazproneft STC; Sergey Kalinin, Geologika. Prices: SPE members: RUB 43660, SPE Nonmembers: RUB 47200.

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Advancing social justice, promoting decent work

Ilo is a specialized agency of the united nations, value chain analysis: joint project for elimination of the worst forms of child labour in kyrgyzstan.

The JIA Business Association and the International Labour Organization are joining efforts to implement a pilot project in Kyrgyzstan to empower vulnerable families and eliminate the worst forms of child labour.

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Joint Venture Successful Strategy Business Employee Stronger Innovative Product


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