I am fairly new to the supply chain industry. Ever since joining Arkieva, I have been immersed in all things manufacturing, planning and optimizing related. As I worked with my colleagues I observed that naturally every company is different and these differences can be seen especially during the implementation process. The steps, rules, politics, etc., always vary and no two companies are the same.

But, while implementation steps may vary from one company to the next, my experience at Arkieva has shown me that there are several key principles to keep in mind while implementing a sales and operations plan (S&OP):

  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Efficiency
  • Consistency

In any successful S&OP process, there are three major roles that need to be filled: demand planner, supply planner and S&OP coordinator. In many cases a person may be responsible for more than one role. As a friendly warning, I have never seen a successful S&OP process where a single person is in charge of all three roles. Having more than one person involved in the S&OP process and having at least a second person in one of the three roles creates a checks-and-balances arrangement beneficial to the process.

In order for the S&OP process implementation to be successful, the data and the results must be transparent. In order for participants to be able to analyze and report on the shipment and forecasting data plan, as well as the manufacturing inputs and operations, simply, it must be made available to them. I have found the best way to increase participation is to give individuals a slice and dice capability and an online window into the data. Other items that need to be made available include the mechanism for including overrides in the final plan and the demand plan.

To be effective, a supply chain planning process must collect information in a systematic and efficient manner. This means individuals who are expected to provide input should only be giving information on significant changes rather than giving input on everything, every single time. The planner must separate the “significant few” from the “trivial many.” To this point, acquiring data should be automated. The best way to do this is to create a unified supply chain planning database that can act as a data consolidator/repository.

Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. Planning should be executed on a routine basis so that it becomes a part of a person’s job. Procedures should be put into action in order to distribute the plan regularly.

In my short time with Arkieva, I have learned that integrating these four principles will increase the chances of a successful implementation of a sales and operations plan in any organization.

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