S&OP: The Wait is Over

Strategy and ImplementationLast week I was fortunate to be able to attend IE Group’s S&OP Innovation Summit in Boston, along with industry thought leader and JBF alliance partner Bill Nienburg, CEO of Integrated Business Planning Associates (IBP2).

Over the past few months, our team at JBF has been working with Bill to determine how we might be able to bring together our own Supply Chain Planning expertise with IBP2’s deep knowledge of integrated business planning processes to help streamline Sales & Operations Planning processes for our clients. After previewing a number of the new S&OP toolsets that were featured at the Summit, and hearing lessons learned from firms who are already realizing the significant business benefits of these applications, it’s clear that companies with clean supply chain planning data have the power to hit the ground running and quickly take their S&OP processes to the next level.

I walked away from the Summit with only one question lingering in my mind: What are we waiting for?

For me, two messages came through loud and clear from the various speakers at the Summit. First, as is always true when it comes to technology, automation is certainly not a silver bullet. Before implementing any type of automated solution, organizations need to clearly define their goals, obtain the right executive buy in, and determine how much to tackle in each phase (‘don’t bite off more than you can chew’ was a common mantra). As with any implementation – whether processes, technology, or both – planning and setting reasonable, reachable goals are key.

Second, while S&OP has the power to deliver fantastic business benefits, one of the biggest hurdles to success is having the right data on hand to feed the S&OP planning process. Luckily for companies already employing supply chain planning tools, this data already exists. Now that big players like JDA, SAP, and Oracle, and niche vendors including Steelwedge and McConnell Chase are all offering reasonably mature S&OP solutions, companies who have a treasure trove of supply chain data at their fingertips would be wise to consider putting it to dual use. Whether tying in supply chain data to improve the effectiveness of an existing S&OP application, or selecting the most suitable solution from those available today and feeding the new system with pre-existing data, it’s now possible to kill two birds with one stone by leveraging supply chain data to feed the S&OP processes that have been proven to further improve customer service and productivity while further lowering finished goods inventories and reducing lead times, obsolescence, and freight costs.

I walked away from the Summit with only one question lingering in my mind: What are we waiting for?

JBF business partner Bill Nienburg is a thought leader in the area of S&OP and was a featured speaker at the S&OP Innovation Summit. His company IBP2 specializes in developing best-in-class S&OP processes that fit each unique business, deliver cross-functional value with a financial and strategic focus, and deliver bottom-line results.

To learn how JBF Consulting and IBP2 can help you reach your S&OP goals, contact us today to schedule a joint assessment.