Spreadsheet use pervades every aspect of corporate life and supply chain management efforts. While it’s seemingly easy to get an answer from a spreadsheet, it may not be the right answer. Many spreadsheets are compromised by data and logic flaws introduced by users, and growing complexity can trigger catastrophic problems related to scalability, integration, fragility, siloing, and other actions. Experts agree that basing decisions on a shaky spreadsheet foundation is a major cause of poor performance and failure to meet customer service level goals. Supply chain management teams can find themselves severely hampered by chronic spreadsheet shortcomings when performing mission critical activities such as demand planning, sales and operations planning (S&OP), manufacturing, replenishment and supply planning and inventory optimization.
Spreadsheets provide great benefit, but also create serious issues. It’s easy to get an answer from a spreadsheet but it may not be easy to get the correct answer given:
- General spreadsheet risk due to the limited accuracy of the tool itself
- The risk of data and logic flaws introduced by users
- Spreadsheet-related supply chain risks that emerge as the supply chain matures.
Spreadsheet culture easily spreads into every facet of global supply chain management, without proper security or audit trails, but with an ever-present probability for serious error. Eventually, trying to manage the sheer volume of spreadsheets, trying to generate insights and actionable conclusions within a useful timeframe, and maintaining communication among isolated owner/operators becomes organizationally exhausting.
This white paper provides inspiration for anyone who wants to move beyond the limitations and dangers of spreadsheets in planning, forecasting and optimizing the supply chain.