Last week, Lora Cecere penned a piece in her Supply Chain Shaman blog post about a conversation with a Mining company executive, “Steve.” He called for her advice on S&OP technology as he was equally hamstrung between limited Excel scalability and his IT team’s edict to leverage their Oracle ERP investment—which was not meeting his flexibility needs.
Lora’s message was twofold: technology is becoming more and more important to powering the S&OP process; and it is more and more challenging to understand which solutions are the best fit for each company’s unique needs. For real analysis of supply/demand tradeoffs, it’s the right time for S&OP technology, but how can providers help companies get it right?
At Steelwedge we’ve spent a decade partnering with leaders across the Global 1,000 to help them optimize their planning around unique business requirements and complexities. And we’ve also seen a set of similarities in their needs. “Steve the Miner” has technology needs that are similar to those from “Jane the CPG manufacturer”, “Frank the Consumer Electronics retailer” and most other manufacturing company planning leaders. These characteristics include:
a) A gap between IT and Line of Business technology requirements
b) A desire to leverage Excel-based solutions for S&OP
c) A challenge to model tradeoffs between supply, demand and finance
d) A lack of an adequate data model to power decision-making
We agree with Lora that finding the right vendor who understands how to meet both your unique and more universal S&OP needs can’t be done in just a conference room or via a PowerPoint presentation. First, you must be able to clearly articulate your technology expectations; a challenge for many companies since the S&OP process may not be well defined.
Once you have your expectations defined, the best way to simplify the technology selection process is to test drive the technology—with YOUR data. Steelwedge pioneered S&OP Test Drives a number of years ago. Since then, dozens of our customers have been able to upload a set of their key master, product, history, order, and inventory data into our secure cloud-based Data Center to see their S&OP data in action. And to break the technology selection Gordian knot with IT.
In the spirit of this holiday shopping season, why not simplify your S&OP technology selection process—get it right—and “try before you buy?”