Supply Chain News

Making Sales & Operations Planning a Calendar Highlight

With only 42% of companies rating their S&OP process as effective, we asked the question, what if, using powerful analytics, you could get insights into of all your low and high margin products and find opportunities for improvement on the fly?

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) has become a standard process to improve business performance, collaboration, and predictability.

In fact, it’s become internalized to a degree that companies often have several (competing) S&OP processes in different geographies & business units.

Why is it that despite its popularity, only 42% of companies rate their S&OP process as effective?  

Common causes for this include poor change and process management, misalignment in terms of business strategy, mismatched metrics across the business, dysfunctional technology and lack of expertise to operate and implement the technology.

Moreover, without powerful analytics that provide exciting insights – the S&OP process can be too tactical, too data input hungry and a lowlight on stakeholders’ monthly calendars.  

How can you turn a lowlight S&OP process into a highlight?

We recently offered a workshop at LogiChem, a chemical industry conference. Our workshop simulated a Capacity Review session.

During the workshop, we learned that virtually all attendees had a pain point in common: they always had to go back to their desk to test different scenarios after an S&OP meeting.

None was able to perform scenario comparisons in real-time to discuss insights with stakeholders during the meeting. Some also lacked advanced analytics and optimization capabilities.  

We asked – What if instead of having to go back to your desk to test different scenarios, you could do it during the Capacity Review session? What if you could get an overview of all your low and high margin products and find opportunities for improvement on the fly?

Suddenly, S&OP meetings would not be as tedious. Their flow wouldn’t be interrupted. You could make collaborative forecasts and run scenarios to quickly reach consensus.  

That was a big eye-opener for us. Bearing this in mind, we put together some criteria for supply chain teams that are in the process of selecting new software.  

What capabilities should you look for to achieve this?  

Your S&OP solution should:

  1. Allow for easy and real-time scenario management. With this capability, you can run and compare multiple scenarios side-by-side in the executive meeting at the end of S&OP and make conversations richer, more entertaining and fluid. Moreover, your meetings will be more strategic, rather than focused on granular, operational things.
  2. Enable you to run business cases at the click of a switch. You may want to make changes in different scenarios and immediately capture their impact on revenue, margin, and CAPEX. This will also contribute to making your meetings more productive and insightful.
  3. Be cloud-based. This is a common strategic and IT requirement nowadays, as it reduces infrastructure costs dramatically and facilitates deployment.  
  4. Be transparent. Having insight into the logic of the application is extremely useful to gain trust and increase adoption. Black box applications are harder to adapt to unique business requirements.
  5. Be accessible. Work is increasingly happening on mobile devices.  Look for a solution that can also be used on mobile.
  6. Reduce your dependence on technical or external resources. To react quickly to today’s business environment, you need to have a self-enabled team and build up your skills in-house.  

Key characteristics to look for when choosing an S&OP technology

Buyer’s Guide for Sales & Operations Planning Software

As a rule of thumb, we recommend that you look for technology solutions with the following:

  • Fast implementation times, so you can start using the system quickly and get some immediate benefits.
  • As your process matures, you'll also need to extend the breadth of capabilities offered by the system. Therefore, you should look for technology that is substantial at the outset but will continue to grow in features and functionality.
  • Look for a tool that will provide insights to engage stakeholders. This will keep your team from getting bored and frustrated with the process.

Learn what you can achieve with AIMMS S&OP Navigator

AIMMS S&OP Navigator is a Sales & Operations Planning Application that is quick to configure and intuitive to use. We developed AIMMS S&OP Navigator to address the market need for a user-friendly and affordable solution that can deal with complex business logic and put the power of advanced analytics in the hands of business users.

Download the Buyer’s Guide for S&OP Software for more evaluation criteria and a handy checklist that guides you through the software selection process.


Article Topics
Best Practices   Supply Chain   Sales & Operations Planning   Analytics   Supply Chain Software   All topics


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