With the right sales and operations planning (S&OP) software, businesses can make better and more informed decisions by connecting plans and strategies across the organisation. The monthly integrated management process gives businesses the tools they need to focus on key supply chain drivers. Here are some of the key S&OP best practices to follow to ensure success.
MAKING SURE S&OP IS A SUCCESS FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Use the Latest Accurate Data
Decisions that have been made using S&OP influence the whole business and sometimes those decisions need to be taken quickly to respond to external or competitive factors. To make sure they’re the right decisions, it’s best practice to use real-time, accurate data to fully understand the impact right across the business before they are implemented. If you aren’t using up-to-date information or it takes too long to do the analysis, then decisions are more likely to be ineffective or harmful.
Determine the kind of data you need, how it’s collated and make sure the S&OP solution receives it as quickly as possible. This data audit is good practice not just for S&OP, but it can also identify gaps in your analytics process.
It is essential to drive collaboration, reach consensus based on the numbers - after all stakeholders will only get behind plans when the numbers support decisions. Bad data will undermine the entire process.
Collaboration is Vital
Each department of the business will have an executive leader. There’s a good chance that they’re willing to help and want to collaborate, but they don’t have the systems or data in place to do so.
They’re restricted when it comes to exchanging information, whether it’s through emails, spreadsheets or tracking comments on files. It’s frustrating for them and slows down planning across the business.
A best practice of S&OP is a platform-based approach that enables, rather than hinders, communication. It should be easy to navigate, collaborative and easy to use on the go too - features that may soon be found in Anaplan’s latest user experience.
Focus on the Future
It’s vital that your business is always focusing on the future. You can’t change what’s happened in the past and it’s crucial you think about what’s on the horizon, otherwise you’ll be unprepared.
Traditional planning can be time-consuming and frustrating, creating the need for a sleek and flexible solution. With S&OP the process is much more flexible, allowing you to plan more effectively and more often, so that you can stay close to market change and respond faster. This means you’re able to adapt to market changes quickly which gives you an edge over the competition.
Take Del Monte, for example. The huge food production company was able to cut market reaction times from five days to just five minutes with Anaplan. Their decision makers working on the supply chain finance planning process can make well-informed decisions much faster than before.
Choose Technology That Fits Your Process
When finding technology and tools to work with, it’s quick and easy to just go to a vendor and find an “off the shelf” solution. These vendors may tell you that the technology they’re selling is equipped to deal with your specific industry, but this isn’t true.
A one-size-fits-all approach like this isn’t good for S&OP processes. Organisations need highly specific planning support, something that isn’t offered as standard.
Choose technology like this and you’re more likely to find that users grow frustrated with its limitations and switch to something else. This escape usually leads to spreadsheets which cause further disconnect across the business.
Embrace the Latest Innovations
For S&OP to be a success, it’s vital that you embrace the latest technological innovations.
First, predictive forecasting. Utilising historical data alongside relevant information about what is expected to happen in the future, weather patterns, consumer trends for example. This valuable insight helps your teams to make better informed decisions and ensures you’re always ahead of the curve.
Look into the benefits of optimisation function modelling too. Anaplan has a powerful optimisation engine that can consider billions of possible solutions when you’re considering your next move. It’s able to suggest the best possible course of action for your business to take.
From simple “what-if” questions to much larger, long-term scenarios, you can share the results across the business to adapt ongoing strategies accordingly.
Whatever your size or scale, you can improve the way your business makes decisions with a more robust and effective planning process that aligns sales and operations with other business functions and strategic goals seamlessly.
THE NEXT STEPS
S&OP is a key component of Connected Planning and a very good place to begin. They both aim to use data to harness the true potential of businesses to drive growth. If you’re not sure what Connected Planning is or why it’s important for your organisation, then make sure to contact a member of our team today.