The amount of change in supply chain management practices since I first became a practitioner more than 25 years ago is eye watering. Today supply chain practitioners operate in a world of ever-increasing complexity, data is doubling every 18 months and there is a wealth of knowledge in social media ready to be utilized. At the same time, there continues to be a shortage of skilled supply chain talent while operations run 24x7x365 at a faster pace and access to cloud-based systems from any device from anywhere means you are always connected. Whether you are operating high performance jets or a global supply chain, all of this leads to “Time Compression” which I believe is one of the biggest challenges we face today. It also offers one of the biggest strategic opportunities.
In this connected world an opportunity or crisis can emerge in an instant. Your C-suite leaders want increased speed and agility and they expect you to lead the way. The supply chain can’t wait until the end of the month or week or even day to respond. Customer expectations continue to increase, and they expect near-immediate response driven by companies like Amazon who are now even closer to offering 2-hour drone delivery.
Research shows that it still takes many companies over 6 months to create and deliver a new product to market. So, it seems supply chain practitioners still have some work to do. How do we speed up supply chain operations while ensuring synchronized and aligned planning across the entire end-to-end supply chain from “Concept Design to Customer Availability?” Integrated Business Planning.
In my experience, most companies have fragmented planning capabilities where longer term strategic (financial), mid-term tactical (S&OP) and shorter-term operational planning (S&OE) are all separate. Strategic, tactical, and operational planning efforts are run by different groups, use different assumptions and data, and rely on different systems! Strategic plans are tough to incorporate into an aggregate S&OP plan, and both plans often do not reflect the latest supply chain network and operational data. These disconnects and misalignments lead to missed opportunities, higher costs and increased operational risks. I am sure you have been in meetings where spirited discussions arise over whose plan is the best.
Advanced Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), also called Integrated Business Planning, is a proven process to accelerate, direct and optimize strategic, tactical, and operational business decisions. Facilitated by a single planning platform, integrated business planning can unite short, medium, and long-term planning to drive better practices and closer teamwork among planning teams. All supply chain stakeholders get reliable answers faster. Forecasts and capacity plans become more accurate and synchronized. Alerts highlight plan deviations. Time is compressed. Trust improves. Short, mid and long term planning is done with confidence… all involved are less stressed, more productive, and more satisfied.
Companies today need to manage their entire supply chain effectively and efficiently from “Concept Design to Customer Availability.” Luckily, a convergence of advanced supply chain processes and capabilities, ‘Big Data’, and a tech savvy workforce, all enabled by advanced planning solutions run on powerful computers, makes the timing right to take your supply chain to the next level of speed and performance.
When I led supply chain operations at a Fortune 500 food company 20 years ago, I could only dream about seamless flows of information that enabled a collaborative S&OP process across teams, departments, continents, and even customers and suppliers. As Maverick said in the movie Top Gun, “I feel the need, the need for speed.” Do you feel the need to speed up your supply chain? Today you could speed up your supply chain by a factor of 10. It isn’t a dream or even a movie, it’s reality, and it’s a necessity. Now, you must take the next step forward.