This week, one of Steelwedge’s flagship customers, Jack Lyon, the VP of Operations at Enterasys, led a thought-provoking webinar discussion on the benefits of S&OP for delivering long term growth. Enterasys has enjoyed an enviable streak of q/q growth for the past 3 years, and credits their S&OP foundation for powering better business agility to support that growth.
Equally interesting was the participant engagement via live polling during the session. Test yourself on these S&OP readiness questions, then see how you fared vs. the replies from more than 300 registrants spanning from CIOs to VPs of Supply Chain, Sales and Marketing, and Demand Planners.
What is your biggest planning challenge?
- Global volatility: 14%
- Demand visibility: 18%
- Supply excess: 3%
- Collaborative planning and engagement: 29%
- All of the above 35%
At Steelwedge, we’ve seen a big evolution in this answer over the past 10 years alone. What started as a heavy focus on managing supply constraints, has morphed with the increasing dependency on trading partners and suppliers around the globe. Today, there is a necessary focus on collaboration—not only within the “four walls” of the company, but also including partners and customers. As business becomes more global, companies lose control and visibility of their supply chains due to outsourcing. And they are increasingly realizing the need to trade out control for better alignment with their partners in exchange for better visibility. Connecting the dots gives them what Enterasys has–agility to grow.
How long have you been doing S&OP?
1. Not doing it: 5%
2. Considering it: 14%
3. Less than a year: 24%
4. Less than 10 years: 40%
5. More than 10 years: 17%
This identified the Gordian knot of S&OP. A practice that has been around for 30 years, S&OP is still fraught with challenges. 81% of the webinar participants have been practicing S&OP –and nearly 1/5 for have been at it for more than a decade. But they are still looking for how to optimize the practice. Part of the challenge is the rapidly—and constantly—changing global marketplace. Part is crossing the chasm in S&OP maturity—like Enterasys did—from operational reacting and demand/supply matching (where Gartner expects the majority of companies are stuck today) to more strategic, proactive and agile collaboration and pre-emptive orchestration of their business.
As Jack said:
“ You can’t do S&OP without a solid strategy and executive level sponsorship/engagement. But, equally, you can’t do S&OP well without technology to transform the process and provide real-time data to get you to the end game quicker.”
Without a cohesive technology framework to support an evolving S&OP process maturity, companies spin their wheels year after year.
What technology are you using for S&OP?
- Nothing: 3%
- Spreadsheets: 60%
- Existing ERP, SCM and/or CRM: 18%
- S&OP specific technology: 11%
- All of the above: 8%
This portrays the biggest technology dilemma companies face: what to do with the ubiquitous spreadsheet? The reality today: both laggards and leading companies use spreadsheets. And many use them to mainly bridge process gaps left from one-size-fits all technology. But spreadsheets alone don’t do the trick. They are not scalable, forcing S&OP teams to try and aggregate, manually, a view that can take a week or longer—every month—to produce. At the same time, spreadsheets can contain a process unique to a business, that can’t otherwise be leveraged in a centralized S&OP automated tool.
At Steelwedge, one of our design principles is to power agility, and allow for configuration within our integrated, single platform system that can automatically populate, aggregate and harmonize data collected from across the company in dozens of spreadsheets, as well as to extend our platform to create apps right on top so that businesses can fold in the processes unique to them.
As we learned from Enterasys , there is no one size fits all approach to S&OP, nor is there a way to build it and be done. It is a journey. Done well, the journey drives continuous, incremental value that can get and keep your business growing, regardless of the market situation.
Where are you in your planning journey? We’d like to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org