Are You Ready for 5 Stages of S&OP Maturity?


Two weeks ago, at its annual Supply Chain Executive Conference in Phoenix, Gartner rolled out the latest evolution to its sales and operations planning (S&OP) maturity model. Part of the reason: a majority of manufacturers were getting “stuck” at Stage 2 maturity: balancing supply and demand. Indeed, we hear about this conundrum every day in our sales and consulting engagements. The vast majority of companies use Excel and manual efforts to power their S&OP. While no one ever abandons Excel, those who try to power through maturity with only Excel or a collection of disparate, unconnected solutions, usually hit a brick wall when it comes time to driving collaboration and scale in their plans.

Gartner’s new model attempts to help companies “smooth out” the journey, now with five steps instead of four. It looks at the strategy as a move from inside-out supply driven planning to more outside-in or demand-driven value networks, guided by updated information across multiple touch points from customers and prospects. Gartner has identified 7 key building blocks for IBP: Vision, Strategy, Governance, Organization, Processes, Technology and Performance Management.

At Steelwedge, we’re helping our customers advance their planning maturity with enabling technology to more easily connect, mine and analyze all that data from one platform. Here are a few ways we’re doing that:

1. Planning Analytics

Steelwedge created a single unified data model for global scenario management across the supply, demand and finance as well as extremely rich collaborative capabilities supported by Enterprise-Enabled Excel and online analytics, as well as mobile delivery.

With Insight, you will learn about what you don’t know and determine what to do about it. Through exception based dashboards that analyze planning as well as transaction data, planners and analysts can get near real-time visibility to trends and make proactive decisions.

2. Big Data

The amount of data companies use in their S&OP processes process has grown exponentially in recent years, and that data has become far more granular as a means to define problems. During the past decade, Steelwedge has witnessed its customers go from managing 200-400 total planning points (TPPs) to more than one billion TPPs. To address these challenges, Steelwedge has purpose-built each component of its integrated business planning (IBP) platform to be high-performance. These components are both in the hardware as well as software layer, keeping in mind the turnkey approach of the cloud. Each communication layer in the cloud—network, storage, memory, edge caching and CPUs—are designed for high speed

3. Cloud

Even though cloud was not called out as a specific enabler for IBP at the Gartner event, we continue to believe that it is a game changer. It is our opinion that it is impossible to companies to advance to Stage 5 maturity without a cloud-based solution. For Stage 5, there needs to be a coordinated enterprise and network decision-making capability. There needs to be the ability to quickly on-board partners to the planning process, collaborate in both structured as well as unstructured manners and to do planning in a distributed environment. These capabilities are only provided by a cloud solution.

4. Multi-Enterprise Planning and Orchestration

Cloud-based planning solutions also simplify multi-enterprise planning and orchestration. With such complexity, integrated, single platform solutions are critical. Outsourcing operations has resulted in companies having asset-lite as well as assetless operations where coordination and orchestration becomes the key driver for sales and operations planning rather than asset utilization. In these environments, network-related data is critical to conduct S&OP on both a regular and an ad hoc basis.

5. Enhanced Social

Steelwedge has pioneered an S&OP-specific structured collaboration solution through its One-Click Planning as well as its Enterprise-Enabled Excel platform. Companies are demanding unstructured collaboration as well in today’s highly networked environment. This implies that there needs to be the ability to provide a social layer on top of the current structured collaboration solution.

In summary, the integrated business planning journey need not be like a holy grail quest, if powered with connected process strategy, empowered teams and flexible technology. But it is significantly smoother if the roadmap has holistic components from the beginning.

If you haven’t already seen it, here is the latest Gartner S&OP Maturity model. How far is your company on this journey? Have you hit a brick wall? We’d love to help