Analyst Insight: Many companies have launched sales and operations planning (S&OP) initiatives, with varying degrees of success. Those who have achieved significant benefits have done so through the realization that S&OP requires coordination across organizational elements, process workflow and enabling technology. As leaders look for the “what’s next” of S&OP transformation, there’s an increased desire for enhanced internal and external collaboration, and extending S&OP beyond planning into execution.
Next-generation S&OP transformation is increasingly focused on visualization, integration of processes and workflow, internal and external collaboration, integration of source and execution systems, and mobility. These factors are allowing companies to enhance their existing planning operations, and drive toward integration with the execution of plans.
Visualization.S&OP transformation and planning systems have taken great strides to move planners away from silos and spreadsheets. Organizations are increasingly calling for further enhancement beyond table-based planning systems, into visual dashboards that support integrated views of supply-chain processes and operations. This development increases the performance of supply-chain professionals and the speed of decision making.
Integration of Processes and Workflow.As S&OP processes mature, there’s a greater need for planning systems to not only serve as the “single version of the truth,” but also to also support integration of the planning processes themselves. By providing an integrated workflow solution, companies enable enhanced internal collaboration and control. This ensures that S&OP decisions are communicated, confirmed, and adhered to as part of daily, weekly, and monthly processes.
Internal and External Collaboration. S&OP at its essence is about enhancing collaboration, both internally and externally. Companies are looking to extend collaboration by examining how their planning processes can better involve suppliers, distribution partners and customers. This results in better forecasts and improved ability to react from the supply side. Technology systems that support this collaboration, through data integration as well as enhanced messaging and alerting, are critical.
Integration to Source and Execution Systems. Companies are realizing that improving planning doesn’t create benefit without tying the improved plan to the execution systems that enable those actions. As such, there’s an increased need for planning systems and processes to have a direct tie to the systems. This increases the need for enhanced data and technical integration, as well as clear oversight and governance. Integration with source and execution systems increases the complexity of S&OP activities and the number of stakeholders involved, but also allows for greater benefit realization from S&OP.
Mobility. As S&OP activities reach a broader and distributed user base, there’s a greater need for mobile availability of information. S&OP platforms increasingly need to provide visibility and user interaction to a variety of devices. This allows the user community to always be “plugged in,” and provides inputs and feedback in a timelier manner.
Outlook: Companies contemplating future evolution of S&OP are increasingly looking toward processes and systems that are easier to use, tied to actions, and integrated both internally and externally. They recognize that greater S&OP benefits can be realized by enhancing these factors. Next-generation systems are allowing for enhanced governance and oversight, creating better compliance and a direct link to greater S&OP benefits.
Andy Prinz is Associate Partner of Supply Chain Management, and Jack Johnson is Principal of Supply Chain Management, with Infosys Consulting.