Trade Promotion Best Practice: Data Harmonisation

Achieving a high level of data “harmonisation” to allow information to flow across the organisation. Strike the right balance during the design phase to excel during your TPx implementation.

November 13, 2023

Trade spend is the second largest investment on the P&L, which is why investing in a Trade Promotion system should be a top priority for most CPG brands. The goal is to automate processes, enable new ways of working, and deliver better business outcomes. Achieving these results requires a careful balancing act during the scoping, planning, and design phases – walking the narrow line between necessary business requirements and ‘nice-to-haves’.

The risk for any TPx implementation is over-designing the solution. Though the intention is to drive value, the project can become a magnet for processes that are not core to either the initial brief or the needs of the end users. Adding in too many requirements results in scope creep and unnecessary complexity, and can potentially cause change management and adoption issues. Though it may be counter-intuitive, less is more when it comes to system design. Going in with a mindset of what can be left out versus what can be squeezed in puts you at a huge advantage.

“Be careful not to design a Ferrari when a BMW will do. Watch out for overdesigning, it will prevent agility and the ability to change plans quickly as well as evolve with next year’s technology.” – CPG Manufacturer

If you answered “yes” to the four questions above, then that is a good sign! If you answered, “no”, consider a Pre-Design assessment to understand your current state and requirements.


A TPM system is meant to be a single source of truth, providing visibility on ‘one number’ across an organisation and allowing information to flow, rather than get stuck in silos. For large enterprise organisations, it has to translate across divisions, which brings an added layer of complexity to the table. Achieving a high level of “harmonisation” between different business units, or even countries, requires assessing the processes of each, identifying similarities, and mapping the differences, which lays the groundwork to create a template for the solution. The degree of commonality acceptable across markets varies, but could, for example, follow the 80/20 rule – 80% standardisation and 20% local configuration. It’s important to let the larger divisions with the most complexities drive most of the change. Smaller divisions tend to have more flexibility with fewer complex requirements, so are more likely to align. Some local configuration is to be expected, but the higher the standardisation, the more benefits are seen across business units from increased collaboration.

“It has really enabled us to standardise the ways of working across our arena by using the same phrases, the same tools, the same look and feel.…it’s really enabled clear standards with standardised ways of working across our business.” – Kraft Heinz


During the initial phases of a project, one must consider the data – not just what is going to integrate into the end solution, but who the end users are, what insights are going to be delivered to them, and what fact-based decisions the data can enable.

Establishing early on what data is going to be integrated and its frequency will allow you to consider the impact not only on technology, but also on the end users and their ways of working. Consider for example how often the interface between the ERP and the TPx solution is bringing in ‘Actual’ volumes and what affect this will have on the commercial teams.

Consider also the granularity of the data and in particular that which you are asking the sales teams to capture. If your long-term plan is for an AI-enabled Optimisation solution, then ideally you would have your sales team capture as many causal factors as possible, to provide the AI engine with data points on which to ‘chew’. This level of granularity though takes time and users may not see the end benefit immediately and can ultimately lead to adoption challenges.

“TPM solutions have your assortment, your pricing, your promotions and your trade terms in it. Bring it all together and make the data meaningful for the win win and be realistic in what you want Key Account Managers to key in. Find the balance between detailed, granular data input and the amount of time it takes for the KAM to enter that data. This balance is a mindset, and that mindset is reflected on the KAM’s ability to enter accurate data when they are in PPM. User experience is key. Bring in AI to help key accounts with volume planning. Bring in AI to look at data accuracy. How detailed do you want your P&L today? The more detail, the more work. Simplicity drives value.” – CPG Manufacturer


During the early stages of a project, particularly Design for multi-division or multi-market projects, the understanding of what is required and what is in scope by everyone involved is critical. During this process, it’s important that there is full representation of stakeholders, meaning IT and business teams alike, to fully challenge the current business processes by assessing what is expected and what is required to drive positive change for the end users and solution adoption in the future. However, the SI should be facilitating these discussions and should provide industry best practices as well as shine a light on previous trade promotion projects to avoid any major pitfalls. Once the design has been finalised, it is also important for the client to hold design workshops to involve key end users of the system to ensure the design meets and captures the critical business requirements. This will not only help drive user adoption post go-live, but will also keep key end users fully engaged throughout the project.

“Building up the relationship with the SI has been critical to the success … (and) the benefits of standardisation. We really need the help of SI to help us push back on any scope creep and identify simplification opportunities and so on. The first couple of implementations to say that it was probably a case that the SI was being too accommodating to our requests – agreeing to include into scope things that either weren’t necessary or maybe not the right thing to do. But overtime that’s improved and we rely on SI to really hold us to the standard template as much as possible.” – Kraft Heinz

Best practices

Put requirements on the chopping block: Part of the work is to decide what requirements are needed, but spend even more time deciding which requirements you can live without. This will remove complexity which ultimately aids the end-user to make the right decisions.

Do not design for exceptions: If the design and template is driven by exceptions then there’s a real danger of scope creep. The risk of complexity and unnecessary requirements will cost the business in the short and long-term.

Know your data: Data can either empower or hinder. Look at every aspect of your data, including accuracy, integration, frequency, and granularity to fully understand how it will impact your teams and how they collaborate moving forward.

User experience is king: Ensure that intuitive user experience is your top priority. It will empower your end users to make the right decisions and drive growth in your organisation.

The Design Vision

As you can see, there are many factors to consider during a design phase. When in doubt, or faced with a difficult decision, pause to ask yourself, “Will this help guide the end-user’s decisions?” This mindset will not only prepare for a successful go-live, but will help steer your vision of long-term growth.

Thank you to Ed Bishop (Global Pre-Sales Manager), Akshdeep Singh (Technology Client Partner for TO), and Christopher Lucey (Global Service Engagement Manager) for their generous contributions to this article.

Webinar: Designing for a multi-country implementation with Kraft Heinz

In a webinar with Kraft Heinz, they walk through their challenges with an outdated TPM system and how a well-designed TPx system remedied their ways of working across multiple countries, and positively impacting their bottom line.

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