A Transformative Supply Chain Strategy

Aligning demand and supply profitability determines the competitivepositioning of an enterprise in a challenging marketplace. However, disconnected cross-organizational communication and collaboration often get in the way of achieving that alignment and result in drawn-out, dysfunctional sales and operations planning (S&OP) cycles. The situation is further complicated due to unforeseen or uncontrollable factors such as volatile customer demand, proliferating SKUs, increased new product introductions, global sourcing options and competition from multiple manufacturers.

Additionally, current manually-driven S&OP processes fail to alleviate many of these pressures and are not sufficient in today’s high-pressured business environment. In order to be successful, S&OP approaches must evolve to adopt the attributes of “integrated business planning” — incorporating truly cross-functional, multidimensional processes that include all elements of demand, supply and financial analysis in relation to the business goals and strategy. As a result, enterprises looking to modernize their S&OP processes need to embrace transformative strategies that encourage collaboration to drive improvement, according to a recent article on Transformative Supply Chain Strategies in Industry Week.

This can be achieved by breaking down the organizational silos in a transformation initiative that addresses key people, processes, and technologies. Such an initiative will prioritize forecasting, inventory, and production, assign clear ownership and accountability for specific processes, conduct proper business analyses in place of seat-of-the-pants reactions to current market conditions, and, most importantly, move away from technology silos to a single version of the truth.

Specifically, as the article points out, it will eliminate reporting tools and spreadsheets at the department level and move to an Integrated Business Planning (IBP) or a single Supply Chain Visibility (SCV) solution. If each department uses its own technology solution to address its own planning processes, the business works off of a myopic and disconnected view of S&OP that is inefficient, costly, and not sustainable. It’s the paradox of traditional “Business Intelligence” technology (and also why you can’t use traditional BI for Spend Analysis): the more you use, the less you know. Especially when spreadsheets are involved — which accomplish nothing more than generating multiple, inaccurate, versions of the data and not the single version of the truth that an enterprise needs to make good business decisions (especially when you consider that 90% of spreadsheets have non-trivial errors).

So throw out your spreadsheets and adopt proper sourcing, procurement, and supply chain solutions that centralize your transactions and supply chain data and generate the necessary reports off of a single version of the data. You’ll be better for it!