Four steps to a seamless sales and operations plan

Michael Schmitt is chief marketing officer at E2open6 August 2014 | Michael Schmitt

The road to collaborative sales and operations planning (S&OP) can be a winding one. Globalisation and the promise of outsourced manufacturing and distribution have vastly increased complexity, leading to information fragmentation and overload.

S&OP teams are constantly being challenged by the universal problems of time, distance and complexity. Extended organisations must rely on interdependent, periodic processes with varying frequency. Inevitably such a lack of integration only increases time, distance and complexity, forcing leaders to make decisions based on information they don’t trust.

So, how does an organisation stay competitive? What’s truly needed is a seamless, end-to-end process that can help teams integrate, plan, align, and execute stakeholder resources to maximise their efficiency over multiple planning horizons.

In my view there are four must-have steps for achieving this seamless approach and ensuring future S&OP success:

Integrate. Brand owners need a collaborative platform for integrating people and their data in participating organisations within the enterprise. This collaborative platform must also extend beyond the enterprise, enabling the integration and synchronisation of trading partners’ data. 

Plan. Brand owners need network planning and response tools, fuelled with fresh, synchronised data. As a result, this enables demand-driven supply optimisation with the ability to match granular demand with granular, often constrained, supply and capacity.

Align. Once the plan is agreed upon by the S&OP team, the collaborative platform must enable feasibility testing by suppliers, distributors, and customers. Resulting recommendations for modifications to the plan can then be considered and confirmed by the S&OP team.

Execute. Once the S&OP stakeholders agree to a plan of record, this operational plan can be seamlessly executed across the collaborative trading partner platform. We need to say goodbye to the stone age, swivel chair approach of manual movement of plans among planning and execution systems. Doing so will ultimately reduce the inherent errors and latency of data transfer and entry. 

In today’s fast-paced, global business climate, companies need to know that they can commit with confidence to their customers and suppliers. To do so, S&OP teams need to adopt state-of-the-art platforms with collaborative planning and execution tools that facilitate real-time information sharing across their trading networks. Only in this way can C-level executives, trading partners and procurement managers work in harmony to provide the right sets of products to the right destinations at exactly the right time.

☛ Michael Schmitt is chief marketing officer at E2open

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