Category Archives: Integrated Business Planning

New Funding to Fuel Growth – An Interview with Steelwedge CEO Pervinder Johar

At Steelwedge, we believe that ongoing investment in innovation is the key to growth. As a result, we are very pleased to announce that the company has secured $22.5 million in fresh capital to invest in R&D and expand our go-to-market strategy.

The round was led by Camden Partners, a private equity firm based in Baltimore, with Mainsail Partners, Shea Ventures and CEO Pervinder Johar also participating. This funding news follows the opening of Steelwedge’s new technology, sales and services hub in Austin, Texas, as well as a host of company milestones. Now 450 global employees strong, we recently landed a spot on the 2014 Deloitte Technology Fast 500 list for a 500 percent revenue growth over the previous four years. In that period we added a number of blue chip customers including HP, Lenovo, GoPro, Nissan and Monsanto, and joined forces with key partners such as, KPMG and PWC.

Pervinder Johar, Steelwedge CEO

Pervinder Johar, Steelwedge CEO

This week I sat down with Pervinder to get his take on supply chain planning and Steelwedge’s vision for continued momentum:

What’s your view of the current state of supply chain planning?

Because of the incremental approach many long-standing vendors have applied to the development of their supply chain offerings, too many companies are struggling to make real-time decisions using disjointed and patched together technologies that simply don’t work in a holistic way. Years of adding a new module here and a new capability there without any master plan have created these “Frankenstein” systems — large suites comprised of dozens of components that don’t really integrate well. As a result, there are often multiple silos within a company’s supply chain operation, and the information needed to make decisions as well as the relevant context around that information is continually getting locked in one silo or another. This breeds what I like to call “supply chain amnesia,” where important information is lost to other decision-makers down the line.

Why is Steelwedge different?

Steelwedge is focused on curing “supply chain amnesia” by allowing companies to plan and re-plan their entire supply chain, in real-time, in an integrated and collaborative way. Combining Big Data, analytics, mobile and Cloud technologies, Steelwedge is the only supply chain vendor incorporating in its platform the proven, scalable technologies that consumer and social media leaders like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter use. We want our customers to have one place to go to plan their entire supply chains — not just small pieces of it — through a user-friendly interface. We want to enable seamless and open collaboration between internal departments like Sales, Marketing and Finance and between companies and their suppliers, distributors and customers.

I see Steelwedge becoming a dominant player in the supply chain planning market, much like has become the leader in CRM. This huge potential for growth is why I signed on as CEO and it’s also why I’m investing my own capital in the company during this current round of funding.

How is your previous supply chain experience informing your vision for Steelwedge? 

I served nine years as CTO at and, after its acquisition, at Manhattan Associates, and helped the company become the dominant player in the supply chain execution space. Today, Manhattan’s market cap is approximately $3.7 billion.

And at HP, I helped transform one of the largest and most complex supply chains in the world. In the course of building HP’s supply chain into a competitive differentiator, I engaged a host of traditional and new supply chain vendors in search of the next generation platform. None of them had a truly integrated solution that allowed companies to plan their entire supply chain in real-time.   Smaller vendors were all addressing the problem from different angles, solving only a piece of the puzzle. Large vendors were amassing large collections of un-integrated modules after years of acquisitions and product launches.

So the question in my mind was: who had a platform that could grow to support the next generation of supply chain planning?  Steelwedge stood out. While at HP, HP selected Steelwedge and I was a customer. I understand the software, its value proposition and the immense possibilities for the platform.

We are in a fantastic position to innovate and grow. Some competitors are too large and slow to really innovate without causing substantial disruption to their business model and install base.  Others are too small to have a good financial foundation to make the necessary investment. We are nimble and agile but at the same time we have a blue chip customer base that is co-innovating with us, transforming their supply chains and the way they interact with their business ecosystems. It’s a good place to be.

An Investment in the Future of Supply Chain Planning

Written by Jason Tagler, Managing Member of Camden Partners

Today I am excited to announce that Camden Partners has invested in Steelwedge Software, the leader in cloud-based supply chain planning and S&OP solutions.  With this capital commitment, we are investing in the future of supply chain planning.  There are four main points which highlight why we are incredibly excited about this opportunity:

The future of supply chain planning is in the cloud.  Customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human capital management (HCM) are software sectors in which cloud-based companies now dominate.   Salesforce, Netsuite and SuccessFactors are examples of companies that embraced the cloud early in their respective markets and went on to become the clear leaders in those markets.  Likewise, Steelwedge was on the front end of adopting the cloud in the supply chain planning (SCP) market.  Today Steelwedge is the only pure play Cloud provider in the supply chain planning space. We believe this early adoption of cloud technology positions Steelwedge to be the dominant leader in the future of supply chain planning.

The market is huge.  According to Gartner, the market for supply chain planning software is expected to grow about 10% per year and be nearly $5B by 2017.  When IT and Services are included in the market size calculation it triples to nearly $15B by 2017. Today, this large and growing market is primarily being served by legacy and on-premise solutions.  Steelwedge has proven its ability to win large blue chip customers such as GoPro, Nissan and HP, and we believe the company is well positioned to capture greater market share moving forward based on innovative product developments and continued focus on the success of its customers.

Steelwedge is investing in innovation.   One example is the company’s plan to open a state-of-the-art R&D office in Austin, Texas later this year.  The plan includes building an Innovation Lab where product managers and software engineers can work directly with Steelwedge customers to build the solutions of the future for supply chain management.  We believe this initiative will result in breakthrough product innovations to address the biggest challenges in supply chain management.

Another example of the company investing to be the dominant player in supply chain planning software is the company’s cutting edge platform.  Steelwedge’s platform leverages some of the same technologies developed by Facebook and Twitter to accelerate and scale the analysis of big data and present it in a way that can be acted on in real time.  Those technologies take advantage of the distributed computing nature of the Cloud and allow for infinitely scaling computational power, in-memory processing and data storage via generic servers in the Cloud. As global supply chains become increasingly complex, this ability to scale data and processes at a reasonable price  becomes even more critical and a big differentiator vs. other companies like SAP and Oracle that are taking the specialized appliance route.

We are investing behind strong leadership.  As with any investment we make at Camden, the leadership of the team is paramount to a successful outcome.  Recently appointed CEO Previnder Johar brings leadership, supply chain expertise and the experience managing companies through explosive growth.

I am thrilled to join the team in the capacity as a board member at Steelwedge and look forward to having a front seat as the future of supply chain planning unfolds.

Does Finance Drive Your Annual Planning Cycle? Why S&OP is a Better Way to Build Your Budget

Budget“I hate this time of year! Finance wants my numbers next week. I don’t know what our sales or production will be next year. I guess I’ll use this year’s numbers and adjust a bit. There’s got to be a better way.”

Sound familiar? The annual budget planning cycle is a necessary yet painful time for many manufacturers.  Finance requires a budget for the next fiscal year and draws inputs from various contributors including Sales, Engineering, Research & Development, Operations, Human Resources and Marketing. The process is intended to yield a more accurate budget for which each department head will be held accountable for next year’s performance.

What would you do? If you’re like most department heads, you’ll under-forecast sales and overestimate production costs and resources required. This, in turn, puts the burden back on Finance and senior leadership to enforce reasonableness, creating multiple iterations of plan adjustments and justifications.

There IS a better way…

Sales and operations planning (S&OP) enables companies to eliminate this painful cycle. Instead of Finance governing an annual event, S&OP refreshes future projections with a defined cadence, typically monthly. For example, an S&OP planning horizon of 18 months allows planners to see a full 12-month forecast for next year six months prior to start of next fiscal year.

If you’re thinking, “So now we’re repeating the budget planning every month? That sounds like 12 times the work,” please keep reading.

Why a budget driven by S&OP is better

The essence of S&OP is collaboration. Cross-functional participation is mandatory, and senior leadership support is critical. Once you’ve established an effective and efficient S&OP process, the annual budget flows right out of S&OP.

Here are some of the key benefits of an S&OP-driven annual budget:

  • Leverages continuous collaborative planning
  • Increases cross-functional participation in developing budget
  • Ensures participants are more informed and less apt to make rough guesses
  • Incorporates both top-down and bottom-up forecasting
  • Increases acceptance of company rather than Finance budget
  • Pulls Finance into S&OP process and out of budget governance
  • Improves budget accuracy
  • Ensures budget feasibility via S&OP demand and supply reviews

Using the Budget

Once the budget is set for the new year, what’s next? The budget should serve as a comparison to better understand deviations. If actual sales results are lower than budget, why? If production costs differ from budget, why? What can we learn from these deviations to improve future plans?

Business agility requires quick realignment of plans and “what-if” scenario planning. A Finance-driven budget disconnected from other planning systems means that Finance does not have the right tools to quickly adjust to operations plan changes, calculate expected revenue and margins based on the new plan and use that information to create a pro forma P&L. A pro forma statement would immediately tell the team if the proposed operations plan can meet or beat revenue and margin targets and give them the comfort they need to approve the plan. Without the right tools, Finance has to go through a tedious, manual process to identify potential shortfalls in revenue and margin from the proposed operations plan.

S&OP should be a great “friend” to Finance. Yet, many financial leaders stick to a painful, inefficient annual budget process. It’s time to pull Finance into the S&OP process and let them say hello to their new friend.

Why Are So Many SAP and JDA Customers Still Using Spreadsheets for Supply Chain Planning?

SpreadsheetIn a recent article authored by Lora Cecere, she stated that nine manufacturing clients she worked with in the span of a week are all still using spreadsheets for planning—despite the fact that they’ve spent millions on the implementation of SAP and JDA supply chain planning software. So why are few companies using planning software they’ve invested so heavily in?

Per the article, very few companies can use the optimizers within the SAP planning software to run their business. That’s because, according to Lora:

“The software from SAP, with the name of SAP APO, doesn’t meet the line-of-business needs for optimization and visualization. While it met the market requirements for IT integration (and is one of the strongest supply chain planning systems of record),  it has failed to meet the greater business needs for the line-of business user. Yes, the systems are integrated, but the plans are not sufficient.”

Lora went on to describe the situation with JDA, referencing the fact that JDA forced an upgrade when it re-wrote the planning software to a new architecture seven years ago. This presented JDA customers with a clear impetus to migrate to other software, and many did. Lora stated:

“Over the course of the decade, I have watched many JDA implementations be replaced by SAP. The primary JDA solutions still in use are JDA’s transportation software (purchased from i2 Technologies) and the warehouse management software (purchased from Red Prairie). Line-of-business users have found the consolidation of the company difficult. Most of the companies that I speak to are angry that the acquisition has not yielded more.”

Despite the fact that SAP is the market leader based on sales volume, it isn’t providing the kind of leadership or innovation that the user community expects, according to Lora. As a result, frustration has grown, and the opportunities for competitors to step in have increased. Supply chain planning has only increased in importance amid escalating demand volatility and global market complexity. This serves to magnify the marked difference in planning software capabilities. A “rip and replace” approach is not one that most companies want to take, but they want “a system of differentiation that planners could use.” Competitors, then, have an opportunity “to build something that can lay on top of the SAP architecture that can better meet the needs of the line-of-business user.”

All of this has netted one major result, according to the article: the market for SAP supply chain planning software has waned. Lora explains:

“The company has been pushing a Big Data and HANA message, but to no avail. There are few takers.  SAP has also written several applications on the HANA architecture (a database purchased with the Sybase acquisition) that offers the promise of greater scalability and usability. The promises have not translated into a viable product. The company has also stated that the current supply chain planning software, SAP APO, will be re-written on SAP HANA by 2020 making the current software obsolete and requiring a forced upgrade. The user community is not happy. They are pushing back.”

Amidst all of this, major changes have taken place among the leadership at SAP and JDA. Vishal Sikka, the longtime head of technology at SAP has departed the company. Given that Vishal drove the HANA strategy, and he left while SAP is pushing HANA, the impact is significant. And, JDA announced two weeks ago that its CEO, Hamish Brewer, was asked to step down after a 20-year run.

Lora calls for the leaders to innovate, noting:

“There are new kids in town. The market is flush with new best-of-breed vendors. They are not hampered by maintenance upgrades and legacy board issues.”

Steelwedge is proud to count itself among the best-of-breed vendors driving innovation in the planning software space. And, we’re not so new. We have a decade of domain expertise backing our single, cloud Integrated Business Planning (IBP) platform. Steelwedge solutions for sales and operations planning (S&OP) are trusted by many of the world’s leading manufacturers because of our easy-to-use interface, easy-to-access cloud applications and easy-to-configure platform.

What have your experiences been like with planning offerings from SAP, JDA, or other large software companies? Are you still using spreadsheets to handle the heavy lifting? Let us know in the comments.

Does Your Planning Process Leverage Your Sales Pipeline Intelligence?

Bruce Richardson, Chief Strategy Officer,

Bruce Richardson, Chief Strategy Officer,

Undoubtedly, companies have a lot of good information in their CRM systems. But they often don’t know how to best use it to manage their entire business, from Sales to Supply to Finance. What they need is a planning tool that enables them to extract, understand and translate the knowledge captured in the sale funnel, along with other demand signals, into actionable insight on how to deliver on-target results.

This topic will be addressed during a Steelwedge-sponsored SupplyChainBrain webinar entitled “What Do Cloud, Your Sales  Pipeline and Your Demand Plan Have in Common?” on April 22, 2014 at 12:00 EDT. Chief Strategy Officer Bruce Richardson will provide guidance on how to fill the “missing link” in the sales and operations planning (S&OP) process—leveraging the intelligence contained in the sales pipeline to inform the consensus demand planning process.

During this webinar, Richardson will explain how companies can:

  • Provide visibility and insight into significant pipeline changes, assumptions and expectations
  • Aggregate pipeline information for supply/demand balancing and operations planning decisions
  • Translate pipeline confidence into accurate revenue and margin projections for better Integrated Business Planning

The webinar will conclude with a Q&A session during which attendees will have the opportunity to submit live questions to the speakers. Click here to register.

Featured Presenters:
Bruce Richardson, Chief Strategy Officer,
Ed Lewis, VP, Product Marketing, Steelwedge Software

Program Moderator:
Robert Bowman, Managing Editor, SupplyChainBrain

We hope you can join us for what will prove to be a compelling and informative session. In the meantime, let us know in the comments section if—and how—you’re leveraging sales pipeline data in your planning processes.

Why S&OP Belongs in the Cloud

sales and operations planning softwareHurricanes and tsunamis. Diverse and aggressive competition. Volatile financial markets. Fickle consumers. Uncertainty is clearly the new norm.

Gone are the days of rigid business plans and fine-tuned demand forecasts. Today’s businesses need unprecedented organizational agility to quickly recognize, recalibrate and respond to shifting demand in the face of volatility.

Integrated business planning (IBP) – the next phase of S&OP maturity – aligns sales, operations, finance and other functional areas into a single line of sight, from plan to performance to profit. But how do you achieve the accessibility, collaboration and immediacy needed to act on a unified planning view at the speed of business?

The answer lies in the cloud.

According to Gartner, cloud computing-based solutions, across S&OP and all of supply chain management, are quickly becoming the requirement. Case in point: integrated business planning. IBP requires that executives (and systems) across functional areas – e.g. sales, marketing, operations, supply chain, manufacturing, finance– have the tools and processes to work together. Only a cloud-based platform can quickly deliver on this promise, and here are four reasons why.

#1 Executive Buy-In

IBP requires a connected, collaborative view of S&OP processes across the enterprise to answer pivotal questions, such as the variance between revenue forecast, budget and compensation target by service line; or expected quarterly revenue by business unit. The lynchpin to this connected approach is executive buy-in from all functional areas. Many cloud solutions today allow you to quickly prototype micro applications. This ‘try before you buy’ approach offers a no-risk, hands-on evaluation that can help prove the system’s value and break down resistance to change.

#2 Any Time, Anywhere Access

To truly engage today’s professionals in the process, you need a platform-neutral approach that works on both enterprise and modern mobile platforms, inside and outside of your corporate network. With the cloud, you can leverage existing system investments and easily merge multiple data sources – whether it’s from legacy on-premise ERP, CRM or finance applications or with Software as a Service applications like – and deliver them on demand to anyone in your organization, anywhere in the world.

#3 S&OP Ecosystem Connectivity

Organizations are dealing with increasing variety and volumes of “big data” coming from internal, partner, customer and social sources. For S&OP, the big data management requirement is exacerbated by the need to look at revenue, product, SKU and component information across a variety of geographies, operating divisions and time horizons, and then roll up that data for review at quarterly, monthly and even weekly increments. This, in turn requires a significant boost in processing power and analytics to make sense of the data for faster decision-making.

Connecting all of this data into planning and understanding how shifts in supply and demand will impact operations calls for scalability and flexibility that traditional on-premise solutions can’t deliver from one platform. With a single IBP platform in the cloud, you ensure a level of always-on elasticity to meet your data demands as they grow. Plus, the cloud’s pay as you go model enables you to scale as your business demands, not as your procurement dictates.

#4 Predictive Analytics

Not only is processing power important for developing actionable plans based on vast amounts of input data, but it’s a critical consideration to allow for contingency planning – a key driver for agility, and the heart of true IBP. Strategic, “what if” scenario modeling enables you to explore a myriad of business scenarios that impact the bottom line. Creating ad-hoc modeling to understand not only supply/demand trade-offs, but also the customer and financial implications of those moves would be cost-prohibitive without the elastic computing power of the cloud.

Final Thoughts

With the shift away from traditional annual or quarterly calendars, S&OP conversations and technologies need to be different. The cloud provides an ideal foundation for modern business plan decision making, allowing you to sense for signals of change and take a tighter look at interdependencies that impact departmental and corporate processes.

The Most Important Performance Measures to Watch in Your S&OP Process

This blog post was co-authored by Jan Veerman and Freek Aertsen, Partners at EyeOn Solutions. EyeOn Solutions is a valued Steelwedge Consulting Partner

S&OP is hot! Looking at the number of publications regarding sales and operations planning (S&OP) the last couple of years compared to the gross domestic product (GDP) growth, we see an increase of the S&OP publications when the growth of the GDP is declining. Less sales drives companies to look at parameters they can influence: their S&OP processes.

S&OP and GDPS&OP and integrated business planning (IBP) are getting more attention. According to the Gartner S&OP Maturity Model, companies are struggling to promote their S&OP processes from Stage 2 (Anticipating) to the next stage (Collaborating). An astonishing 67% of the companies cannot get beyond Stage 2!

So we know it is difficult to manage and mature the S&OP processes. But are we completely left without tools, tips or tricks to make the best of what we are doing right now? Of course not, there are elements to improve in the processes. It all starts with measuring the performance of the important S&OP processes.

Most important performance measures to watch in S&OP processes

What indicators are important in the S&OP processes? A lot! So we have to select the most important ones. Generally, in a make-to-stock environment, these are the most important measures to watch in your S&OP process:

1. Service Level

2. Forecast Accuracy

3. Stock Level

4. Factory Performance

Four S&OP Measures to Watch1. Service Level

The service level measures the performance of the whole logistics organization in meeting the customer service expectation. On Time In Full (OTIF) can measure the service level, and to reach a good OTIF level, all the functions of the supply chain have to work at their best level.

2. Forecast Accuracy

Forecast accuracy (FA) measures how well the company forecasted the demand compared to the actual demand afterward. The better and more consistent forecast accuracy is, the better the supply chain can handle the expected demand (resulting in lower stock and higher service levels).

Forecast error can be measured in many ways. The most popular are Mean Absolute Deviation (MAD), Mean Absolute Percent Error (MAPE), cumulative error and average error or bias (E).

3. Stock Level

Cash is king nowadays! Suppliers want to have their supplies paid at delivery, while your customers extend their payments terms. One way to deal with a possible shortage in cash (because it is also difficult to lend money), is to free up money invested in the stock levels.

By predicting the demand more accurate (see forecast accuracy) and actively managing the stock levels, a reduction of these stock levels can be achieved and generate the valuable asset: cash.

4. Factory Performance

The performance of the factory can be measured according different measures, like CLIP, RLIP or LAP.

Confirmed Line Item Performance (CLIP) is a performance indicator measuring delivery quality, meaning the percentage of order elements that was delivered at the date as committed to the customer.

Requested Line Item Performance (RLIP) is a performance indicator for the degree in which market demands could be met, measured as the percentage of order elements that are delivered by the company at the date requested by customers.

With the factory performance measures as mentioned above, the overall performance of the internal processes can be monitored and give the ability to look for improvement areas.

Integrated software solution

We briefly touched what we believe are the four most important measures to watch in the S&OP processes. Of course there are many more measures to watch, but we need to start somewhere! Start with your journey to become one of the 33% of companies that made the transition to Stage 3 in the Gartner S&OP Maturity Model.

But processes alone will not do the trick. In order to measure, monitor and react, you need also to have systems in place to facilitate these processes. These systems need to be agile to the same extent that the processes do.

Old-school S&OP software packages tend to take too much time to implement, adjust to the specific needs of the customer, and changes to the software afterward are a source of frustration. Truly integrated Cloud tools can make the difference here. Cloud tools have no hardware to setup and maintain and leverage the data already in your operational systems by connecting to the cloud solution, which comes with predefined calculations, analyses and reporting capabilities.

Steelwedge offers a solution that supports a true integrated approach in managing the supply chain, internally and extended to your suppliers and customers. With the discussed four most important measures to watch in your S&OP, supported by tools like Steelwedge, you should be able to make the leap to the next phase in the S&OP maturity model and reap the benefits: better performance, lower stock levels, increased availability and happy customers and partners in your supply chain.

For more information, contact Jan Veerman – Partner, EyeOn Solutions at and Freek Aertsen, Partner, EyeOn Solutions at

Game On! Sony Plans for Biggest PlayStation Launch Ever With Steelwedge

Sony PS4In the world of video-game consoles, the Sony PlayStation is undoubtedly leading the pack. In January 2014, PlayStation 4 (PS4) sales were nearly double that of its nearest competitor. The release of new game consoles comes years after their preceding versions, so significant planning goes into the launch by their manufacturers.

Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) launched the much anticipated PS4 in November 2013. There was high complexity inherent to readying the system in time for the make-or-break holiday season; allocating to the right reseller channels; assembling the right combination of accessories and game bundles; and ensuring the product launches at right price point. Sony used Steelwedge integrated business planning software to connect all the crucial people,  processes and data to help it navigate their biggest launch ever—delivering an anticipated approximately 5 million units in the coming months—without cannibalizing the ongoing PS3 business.

The Steelwedge services team helped fast-track Sony’s internal planning process with the
implementation of the Steelwedge solution in a phased approach. The first phase incorporated demand planning and an executive engagement phase of the total sales and operations planning (S&OP) life cycle.

Phase two involved synchronizing Sony’s new forecasting strength via supply planning and collaboration with Sony corporate suppliers and telescopic planning. Telescopic planning is a Steelwedge feature that enables easy movement between weekly and monthly planning periods, allowing Sony a much closer, more frequent look at impacts to its supply and demand.

“Without the insights we gained from Steelwedge on channel and bundling optimization and well as potential PS3 cannibalization, we wouldn’t had as powerful a launch plan,” said Sree Vaidyanathan, SCEA’s  Director of Business Applications. ”Months ahead of the launch, we sold out $1.7 million in pre-orders. We are planning to sell approximately 5M units of the new PlayStation 4 console by April, and we are more confident in that forecast due to Steelwedge.”

Increased visibility from consensus planning at SCEA translates into better:

Profitability. SCEA forecast accuracy improvement from 60% to high ~90% immediately
drives better profitability—ensuring the right goods at right time and right place. Now,
Sony has enough data insight to push platform and SKUs to channels, more intelligently.

Market Share. Better consensus planning, powered by Steelwedge, helps SCEA make better supply/demand tradeoff decisions, due to more reliable data. The faster to market, the better the market share potential.

Scalability. The cloud-based solution from Steelwedge allows Sony to power its process
in scope with its evolving market.

Risk Mitigation. The proven, secure Steelwedge platform limits Sony’s IT exposure to
risks around data, business continuity and security.

To learn more about Sony’s implementation of Steelwedge, read the full case study here. Do you have any best practices to share around using the S&OP process to enable a successful product launch? Share your insights in the comments section!

Is Your S&OP Ready for 2014?

Touchscreen 2014You and your company may be entering 2014 with an advanced integrated business planning (IBP) process in place. Or you may only be beginning to consider sales and operations planning (S&OP). Whether you’re well on your way, just getting started, or somewhere in between, undoubtedly every company can benefit from improved strategic and tactical alignment and increased agility.

That’s why you should join Steelwedge on Tuesday, January 28 for a free webinar entitled “New Year, New Approach: Take Your S&OP, Demand and Supply Planning Processes to the Next Level in 2014.”

Frank Kang, Managing Director, KPMG

Frank Kang, Managing Director, KPMG

During this webinar, Frank Kang, Managing Director, Supply Chain and Operations Advisory Services, KPMG, will address the many opportunities that best-practice S&OP processes and technologies offer. What happens when you capitalize on these opportunities? You meet financial targetsstrengthen customer relationships and establish accountability within your organization by integrating your demand/supply planning with long-term strategic business goals.

You will learn:

  • The questions to ask when evaluating the effectiveness of your planning processes and deciding where and how to start on an effective IBP journey
  • The opportunities offered by the right technology to continuously improve your business planning processes
  • Examples from leading companies who have embarked on a self-improvement journey and have succeeded in taking their planning processes to the next level

What are your S&OP plans for 2014? Let us know in the comments.

S&OP Beyond the Basics: Q&A Part 1

More than 800 people registered for a terrific conversation with industry pundit and author, Tom Wallace.  We simply ran out of time to answer all the questions live, so have captured common themes and answered them here. This is the first of a two-part series.

Q: How do you best manage the proliferation of S&OP meetings? People inherently object to having meetings for meetings sake!

It is important to differentiate between meeting and working sessions. Executive S&OP meetings are intended to be very efficient and structured, given the CXO level participants. These meetings should have a very specific agenda with clearly defined goals for the meeting.

Working sessions are more of a combination of structured agenda as well as unstructured time to discuss collaboratively on various topics. Demand review and supply review meetings are examples of these working sessions.

From a technology perspective, the solution should provide the ability to document business context, assumptions, action items and opportunities for further follow-up and tracking.

Q: How do you handle “what if” analysis & scenario analysis within Steelwedge?

Steelwedge provides a platform that balances supply, demand and finance and enables the end-to-end S&OP process. Scenario management and what-if analysis can be implemented at any stage of this process: demand forecasting, supply planning or executive S&OP. For example, as part of the out of the box application called Compass Express that is implemented by this platform, 26 scenarios can be created as part of the Executive S&OP process. These scenarios can be compared based on pre-defined metrics and the best scenario can be ‘promoted’ to be the plan of record for the organization.

Q: How do you do the Bill of Material explosion and how is SW exploding the confirmed demand plan to material requirements?

The Steelwedge S&OP platform has the ability to model both a standard bill of material as well as a statistical bill of material (attach rates).  As part of the Rough Cut Capacity Planning process, the consensus demand forecast at a finished goods level is converted into material requirements at a component level for the purpose of performing a build-versus-buy decision using the sourcing template. In cases of configured products,  the dependent as well as independent demand associated with components is computed as part of this process.

Q: S&OP is limited to quantitative views of supply and demand. How do you validate qualitative assumptions about external factors?

Steelwedge estimates that only about 50% of the decision making at S&OP meetings is based on quantitative factors – the rest of the decisions are made based on tribal knowledge or ‘gut’ feel. It is important to capture these decision factors as part of the process so that the validity of these assumptions can be tracked later. It is expected that over a period of time these assumptions are re-evaluated and quantitative approaches are incorporated instead. We understand that collaborative planning and S&OP is never going to be completely fact based and that the solution should support the ability of the end users to make informed decisions based on data as well as qualitative factors.

Q: How do we get end users more engaged in the process. What kind of reports / alerts are commonly presented at S&OP meetings?

Excel continues to be the most commonly used business planning tool. That is why Steelwedge provides a platform that utilizes Enterprise Enabled Excel, which powers the S&OP process on top of the Excel application. A familiar paradigm is one way to get end users more engaged in the process.

Another common problem that sales reps face as part of S&OP process is that they are asked to input data into very complex Demand Planning applications, resulting in loss of interest and use.  Also,  sales people are often completely mobile and don’t have the internet bandwidth to provide inputs into these Demand Planning applications.  Steelwedge addresses this two ways:

a) One Click Planning provides an event driven push based mechanism to alert sales executives of areas that require their input. When the users click on an email that they receive from the application, they are taken directly to a template that they can fill out for products that they have access to.

b) Offline tools – this allows sales reps to input data without being connected to the internet. Once they log into the internet, they can do a net change submit to the server to sync up the data.