2014 Readers' Choice Survey: TPM

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TPM, while generally high on the consumer goods company’s priority list — and even more so among the smaller firms — continues to get mixed reviews when it comes to its effectiveness. We asked Dale Hagemeyer, research vice president for Gartner, Inc., to analyze activity in this hot market and offer tips for ramping up the way consumer goods companies should manage (and optimize) trade spend.

Can you comment on this list? Is the outcome what you would expect? Are there any surprises?
It looks like a pretty complete list. And, it is what I’d expect based on responses from North America. I believe that SAP and Oracle lead the list because the question asks, “Which firm’s solutions and/or services are you most actively using”. It could be easy to forget that the context is TPM. But certainly both vendors have a large user base that would put them near the top. The surprise is that not more of the pure-play trade promotion optimzation (TPO) vendors made the list.

How would you characterize TPM maturity today? What are leaders in the consumer goods community doing differently?
It is quite mature — in many ways a commodity that boils down to price. TPO is a bigger differentiator. I don’t see a leader on the user side in TPM. Those that can plan — execute — settle — analyze see value from it. As long as a user organization can integrate the data necessary to do post-event analysis, then the TPM deployment should go pretty well. The only other issue is where organizations opt for a clunky user interface because they are hung up on buying TPM from a certain vendor as opposed to a tool that people will actually use — in which case they either don’t or else an additional front end, like Excel, has to be added on.

In your analysis of the TPM category ranking last year, you reported that less than 1 percent of companies were truly using TPO. Is this statement still true?
Hagemeyer: It hasn’t increased significantly. TPO is still a major consideration. I estimate that 75 percent of TPM decisions still include some provision for TPO in the future. But, it takes time, resources, data integration and clean historical data. None of these are easy to get these days. But, we are seeing some great success stories from those who are persistent and courageous.

There seems to be a lot of buzz around  retail execution lately. Should it be considered as a part of a TPM project?
It is an important and related set of processes, but very seldom is an organization ready or able to do both. Integration between the two will have to take place to really get the value out of being able to push plans out to the field and make changes along the way. But choosing best of breed for both TPX and retail execution is most often the approach that I see because this ensures the best experience for both types of users.