Avoid the Most Common S&OP Mistakes: Here’s Our Top 5

Knowing is half the battleIn the wise words of G.I. Joe, “Knowing is half the battle.” And in the battle for sales and operations planning (S&OP) success, knowing where the potential pitfalls lie will serve every company well. Some of those pitfalls were recently outlined by Steelwedge Vice President of Industries Danny Smith in a Manufacturing Business Technology article entitled “The 5 Most Common S&OP Mistakes And How To Avoid Them.”

Recognizing that knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what one should do, Danny described the following mistakes that companies frequently make in their sales and operations planning initiatives:

1) Lack of executive ownership. The biggest problem I see is the executive leadership team not owning the S&OP process. If executive leadership isn’t fully engaged, the process won’t be as successful. If they aren’t engaged, find out why. Maybe you aren’t giving them the things they need to run the company: forward-looking, global visibility; timely, concise information that is digestible to them (e.g. their KPIs) and that is actionable; the ability to ask “what-if” questions so they can put boundaries around their risk. A good technology platform can help tremendously here. After all, the best people and process can only take you so far. Technology serves as a lever to speed up the process and shift the focus from calculations to analysis.

2) No cross-functional engagement. The whole point of S&OP is getting the entire organization moving in the same direction. That’s hard to do without the involvement of all the key stakeholders in the process. Research around S&OP failures right after the global downturn showed that a third of the respondents didn’t have Sales engaged in the S&OP process. That was the good news! Almost half didn’t have Operations or Finance engaged. Lack of a way to translate between different functional views of information tended to leave one or more participants out of the process. Sales would input revenues by account, Operations would need demand in units by product, and Finance wanted to see net margin. To really make S&OP work, you need to have the same information, but expose it to each stakeholder in the form they need and understand. Even if you start with a quick win/small project, extend the scope to just across the functional boundaries to provide the needed translation.

3) Focusing only on one consensus number. An S&OP mantra for years has been getting to a “one number plan,” but this simplifies things too much. And worse, it limits the value of S&OP for executives. Executives are paid for predictability. It’s their job to identify and proactively mitigate risk – to avoid the danger before it’s a reality. S&OP can be a great tool to help (i.e. GPS telling you to avoid a route due to traffic) but only if you don’t fall into the “one number” trap. Instead, you need to plan in ranges – worst case, best case and expected – all along the S&OP process. The ability to identify the impact of things not going to plan is priceless. As Eisenhower once said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”

4) Complexity! Follow the “keep it simple” principle, especially with metrics. I’ve seen companies become paralyzed trying to make the right decision when they have to evaluate hundreds of metrics; the complexity prevents them from being able to ask the right questions. Pick your big 10-15 metrics (see Figure 1) and go with them. Track them, make performance transparent so everyone understands where they are, and learn from them.

Figure 1: Simple KPIs

Figure 1: Simple KPIs

5) Lack of documentation. How do you learn from your mistakes? You have to capture all the institutional knowledge and assumptions that go into your plans. Provide a mechanism to capture this information from every participant, and make it easy for them to contribute. For example, if you collaborate as a group using social media, automatically capture those chats and the context and embed it into the plan assumptions so you can understand the context of decisions or changes six months later. Remember, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Do you agree with Danny’s top five S&OP mistakes? What lessons have you learned in your journey to sales and operations planning success? Weigh in with your “war stories” in the comments.


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.

Is Your Sales Pipeline Connected to Your Demand Plan? It Is Now With Salesforce.com and Steelwedge!

sales_pipeline_bridge_lpWhat happens when you pair the leading provider of cloud-based sales and operations planning (S&OP) solutions with the enterprise cloud computing leader? Your employees, customers and trading partners get connected in a whole new way.

No one is more enthusiastic about enterprise cloud solutions than we are here at Steelwedge, except perhaps our partner, salesforce.com. Steelwedge understands the power of partnership, and that’s why we’re so pleased to be an official salesforce.com ISV partner.

As development and testing of our new solution wraps up (Stay tuned: Sales Pipeline Bridge will be available on the AppExchange in early 2014!) we are preparing our customers for the integrated business planning (IBP) journey of a lifetime.

The Sales Pipeline is the “Missing Link” in Your S&OP Process (view the video here!)

Every company would love to have a scenario where they use a single system that:

  1. Reviews all sales pipeline data
  2. Provides alerts for significant pipeline changes
  3. Systematically manages and links sales, marketing and operations plans

The hard truth, however, remains that most companies have separate and manual tools and processes that put them at risk for inaccurate forecasts, delayed—or worse yet—lost sales, and lost productivity. What they need is a planning tool that enables them to extract, understand and operationally act on the critical information in their sales funnel

Collaboration at its Best

Steelwedge 100% cloud-based S&OP solutions are used by customers across the globe and across industries. Sales Pipeline Bridge enables a new and unparalleled level of S&OP collaboration by incorporating critical sales opportunity information from salesforce.com into the planning process.

After all, who knows better about what—and when—customers will buy than your sales team? No one.   They are your first line of sight into customers and prospects. They know where the opportunities arise, the competitive landscape and what challenges your product can solve.

Sales Pipeline Bridge systematically captures that critical sales opportunity information from salesforce.com, transforming it into a view that is meaningful for Finance, Product Management and Operations alike. Silos? Gone. Fragmented systems? Eliminated.  Better performance and forecast accuracy? Check!

The Final Word

Dynamic, competitive markets have changed the game. We all live with this challenge every day. Our new AppExchange solution will not only keep customers in the game, but help them play to win.

For more information on Sales Pipeline Bridge, click here.

What kinds of challenges do you have connecting your sales pipeline data to your demand plan? Let us know in the comments!

What Does Great S&OP Feel Like? Tom Wallace Knows.

Tom-Wallace-headshot2Steelwedge recently hosted a webinar featuring sales and operations planning (S&OP) expert Tom Wallace entitled “What Great S&OP Feels Like!” We received a record number of questions before, during and after this webinar. Tom was gracious enough to take the time to answer some of those questions here.

Q. In your view, what specifically are the most important things to measure that drive organizational impact and bottom-line profits? 

A. To some extent, this is a function of the company’s operating environment and strategy, so one list will probably not support all companies. That said, here goes:

  • Customer service measures such as order fill, customer lead times, % perfect orders and the like.
  • Operational efficiencies: performance at the plants, suppliers, DCs, and so forth.
  • Flexibility and agility: short lead times, ability to service high mix effectively, reaction time to demand spikes and supply crashes.
  • Cost containment and reduction.
  • Effective asset management: inventories, receivables, order-to-cash cycle, etc.

Q. I just took over supply chain at my company, and I am in the process of implementing S&OP with four meetings held every fortnight (projects, demand, supply chain, pre-S&OP) and one monthly executive S&OP meeting. Do you think this is too much? Coworkers are enthused.

A: This strikes me as perhaps a bit much; even with the co-workers’ current enthusiasm, you may be running a risk of burn out. And I wonder if it’s necessary. For example, one pre-S&OP meeting per month is what most successful users do. Further there’s one set of activities in the demand planning phase. For example, once the consensus forecast is set, it’s put to bed unless something major happens that affects the forecast significantly. Ditto for supply planning.

Q. What have you seen as the most significant issues that cause S&OP initiatives to wane over time?

A: The most significant issue is when there’s a change in the leader of the business. The new leader arrives, knows nothing about sales and operations planning, doesn’t want to learn, and proceeds to dismantle a smoothly running process. Other potentially difficult issues include, for divisionalized companies, a change in a high-level position at corporate: CEO, COO, CFO.

Also a threat is allowing the S&OP process to gradually degrade over time. After a while, it may become fairly dysfunctional and people lose interest. The solution: measure its performance routinely and fix things that start to slip.

Q. Should large corporations initiate the S&OP process by allowing each division or product to produce its own internal data and establish internal organizational structures to properly support the resource planning side? Or should a fully integrated information technology system be implemented to allow for standardization of data and processes aid in resource development?

A:  I’m seeing more and more examples of larger companies directing their business units to follow a standard set of actions for sales and operations planning. This doesn’t mean identical steps, but to do each of the major pieces (demand planning, supply planning, etc.) using similar processes. Your point about a “fully integrated information technology system…to allow for standardization of data and processes aid in resource development” is possibly a good choice, but I wouldn’t slow down the implementation of the basic S&OP processes. If it will slow things down, do it later. If it won’t slow things down, you might want to go for it—keeping in mind to implement at the business unit level, using a pilot approach.

Do You Have Planning Insight? Collaborative S&OP Requires Easy Access to Data and Analytics

Chances are you’re collecting volumes of data to manage your business. Most companies today amass veritable mountains of digital details on how their business has performed in the past in the form of reports, customer feedback, trading partner metrics, and KPIs. They also collect sales and operations planning (S&OP) data on how it should perform in the future via demand plans, supply constraints, and statistical forecasting metrics. But are you adept at culling through this data at any time to optimize where you are NOW?

At Steelwedge, we have a perspective that your planning data ought to be able to tell you, anytime and on any device, the impacts of supply/demand tradeoffs based on your current business reality. That insight powers S&OP and comes from a blend of both historical and forward-looking planning data for real decision-making context. And your entire team must be able to access that data in a single plan of record to enable truly business-transforming collaborative S&OP.

Simply put: business parameters change and plans—and people—have to flex with them. Check out this video about Bob and his quest for better S&OP insight. Only his animated form is two-dimensional. His business planning needs are not. Seem familiar?

We’d love to hear from you about your journey to get better planning insight. Can you keep your business plan on course even when you know it will occasionally go off road?

Women in Technology: The Balancing Act

The day I sat down at my desk to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write this post resembled most weekdays when I am not traveling. Walk with the dog at 5:30 am, then feed her and our twenty-two pound cat. Coffee. Juggle roles as channel partner, software vendor, customer, kid taxi and herder of cats—proverbial and otherwise. (Note: I love my job; no two days are the same.)

After a full day I arrive home to find my amazing husband has prepped dinner between his conference calls, so I just pop it in the oven and make some sides. He is picking up our fifteen year old from an afternoon activity. I repeat of the morning routine with the dog and cat, we have dinner together and catch up on our days.


On the best of days, I find that maintaining a healthy equilibrium between work/career, family and leisure is an effort. Like many women in tech, my inclination is to do it all, and do it all at 150%. Making time for myself, usually low on the list of priorities, teeters in the balance.

On this particular day I went to sleep feeling especially good, having completed most of the things I hoped to accomplish before the day was out.

The phone rang at 11:00pm and I was out the door at 11:05 pm. My mother, who lives a few miles from us, had a medical emergency and we spent a very frightening night together in the emergency room. Fortunately, she has fully recovered and is doing well today.

Something my mother said to me around 3:30 am gave me pause for thought and reflection.

“I’m so sorry to do this to you. You have so much on your plate and you don’t need this.”

My response was simply, “Don’t be silly. I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” And I meant it.

Many of us, as women in technology, work very hard to set a good example for our younger peers with similar career aspirations. We do a tremendous job laying the groundwork for the next generation of female executives. We are clearing the path and breaking glass ceilings not because we are women, but because we are qualified, experienced professionals making a real contribution. We demonstrate every day that you can have a successful career without sacrificing your family life. And we continue to shift the ratio of women in the board room from one dominated by men to one that fills those seats based on qualification, not gender.

However, as I have seen often for myself and among my female colleagues, there can be a great price to pay for trying to do it all at 150%. The laws of physics and math (and words of wisdom from grandmothers everywhere) prove that you cannot be everything to everyone all of the time.

Today, after many years of performing this juggling act, moderately well and with an incredible amount of stress, (some justified, some self-inflicted) I maintain the same level of activity but with a healthy approach and perspective that serves me and those around me well.

Women rising in the ranks of technology will face many of the same challenges I have mentioned. There are some simple things you can do to help you on your path to a success. And remember, success is how you define it, not how someone else does.

Do your best.

It sounds simple but sometimes it’s not. Don’t take shortcuts. Do go the extra mile. It shows and will come back to you tenfold.

Be accountable.

I believe we are all responsible for our own success, and happiness, for that matter. Own what you do and who you are. The good, the bad and the ugly. Avoid blame, even if it is someone else’s fault. Seek resolution instead. Blame is a waste of time and accomplishes nothing. There is certainly an aspect of luck and timing in career and life, but by and large, I believe it will be what we make of it.

Set your priorities and know your boundaries.

I love lofty goals. Aim high! However, do so in the context of your professional aspirations, experience and personal commitments. Stay grounded in what is important to you not just for today, but for tomorrow.

Relationships matter. Remember, it’s about the people.

Oftentimes, especially in technology, there is an obsession with the solution being delivered, closing the deal or bashing the competition. Avoid these pitfalls. At the end, of the day we work with people, we buy from people, and relationships are an enormous component contributing to the success of a project (not just the technology). So focus on your customers, colleagues and partners. Always. If you have good technology, it will be the foundation for a long, happy relationship.

Find a mentor or role model.

Ideally, select someone you respect, with similar goals and challenges, and with whom you can interact face to face or by phone. Someone who is willing to share her perspectives and experiences and offer you guidance. However, your mentor doesn’t even need to be a willing participant! In the absence of such a person, choose a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman or public figure you admire. Learn everything you can about how they achieved their goals. Become a sponge for information that will help you move forward to reach your own.

Be kind, honest and respectful.

Enough said. If you use integrity as your compass in everything you do, you will shine.

Years ago, the woman sitting in the hospital room with my mother would have been right by her side. Taking care of her. But all the while worrying about what was happening at home, concerned about the next day’s deadlines that would not be met and in an overall state of anxiety.

Thanks to mastering some basic skills, keeping my priorities straight, and a lot of years of practice, I was indeed right by her side. Laser-focused on one thing only—my mom. The deadline was extended, I delivered good work, and the house did not fall apart.

That’s the balancing act. We all have one, so master yours. Tell us how you do it in the comments.

Steelwedge is a sponsor of CSCMP’s Annual Global Conference October 20-23 in Denver. The event features a session entitled “Women in Logistics and Supply Chain Management: Supply Chain Redesign.” Selected results of the 17th annual survey of female CSCMP members will be reported, including questions about redesigning the supply chain. The panel will discuss the survey results and address how they approach supply chain redesign. This session should provide an interesting insight into how the women of supply chain management view supply chain redesign. Will we see you at the conference?

Your S&OP Analytics: Crystal Ball or Ball and Chain?

The following Steelwedge blog guest posting is submitted by Bob Ferrari, Managing Director, The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group, and Founder, Supply Chain Matters blog.


This week, I had the opportunity to be the featured guest speaker for the ongoing Steelwedge Software 2013 Monthly Webinar series. My topic was considering the use of predictive analytics capabilities to supplement the decision-making capabilities of the S&OP process.

In the webinar, I provided four important takeaways for our audience:

  • S&OP needs to move toward more timely decisions and better prediction of events and business outcomes.
  • The converging forces in business management. Supply chain and IT are aligning toward greater awareness and support for more predictive decision-making capabilities.
  • Leveraging the combination of predictive analytics and constraint modeling capabilities for S&OP can provide positive outcomes for your business.
  • Of all the factors, understand and plan for the need for augmented individual and team skills to be able to leverage these capabilities.

During our webinar, we conducted some live polling of the audience. Many of the audience members reinforced a desire for their S&OP teams to become more predictive to business outcomes, but at the same time, are just beginning to become educated on predictive tools and their use.

We received a number of insightful audience questions, some of which we briefly addressed, but unfortunately we ran out of time to respond to all of them. In this blog posting, I will respond to these questions.

Q: What questions should I be able to answer with advanced analytics that I couldn’t answer without it?

Response: A sampling of the type of questions that advanced analytics can potentially answer are:

  • Defining the most appropriate segmentation of the supply chain(s)
  • Determining most profitable product and/or customer segments and how to best respond to customer needs for these segments.
  • Incorporating both near real-time structured as well as unstructured planning and fulfillment related data and information into a set of alternatives for the S&OP to consider in a response plan.
  • Determining the best possible time to seek either additional fixed or variable production capacity.

More importantly, innovators in these capabilities describe the ability of an analytics equipped team to serve as “the honest broker” in determining what is and what is not feasible in the context of given financial, operational or service goals. These capabilities further allow the S&OP team the ability to more clearly assess quantifiable impacts of various decisions.

Q: What skills should we be investing in for our team to insure better analytic insight?

Response: Dr. Chris Caplice, Executive Director of MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics recently published highlights of a discussion among 13 leading-edge supply chain organizations regarding their experiences with developing in-house analytics capabilities. Some of these organizations had well developed teams while others were in the process of building teams. Some of the key insights summarized were:

  • Having a proper balance of well-rounded technical and business skills.
  • Fluency in the language of business and the ability to effectively communicate cross-functionally-crunching the numbers is but one part of the job
  • Ability to sell concepts and services to internal groups
  • Knowing specifically how questions should be asked- asking the right questions and framing the right context

I would also hasten to add an intimate knowledge of the firm’s supply chain and its capabilities.

Q: What is the benefit of advanced analytics for planning over a BI tool?

Response: In my view, today’s BI tools can alert S&OP team members to potential problems but the former tools tended to restrict the ability to dig deeper into both root cause and potential means to resolve an unplanned event, shortfall or disruption. Advanced analytics adds supplemental capabilities to dig much deeper into the data, determine the exact sources of a problem, and simulate various possible response options in the context of stated business, financial margin or customer service goals. During his portion of the webinar, Ed Lewis of Steelwedge provided us a demonstration of this capability.

Q: Is there a trap in following analytics without the visibility of how the metrics are determined/calculated?

Response: This is an insightful question and I’m pleased that it was asked.  In the initial deployments of advanced supply planning systems (APS) many of the initial implementations were stymied because both planners and operational teams did not fully understand the data sources and business rules that the metrics and/or plans were derived from. This fueled the notion of a “black-box” that teams distrusted.

I believe that as a community, we have learned from this experience. Further, we have more robust data drill-down and visualization capabilities that allow teams the ability to explore for themselves how metrics were derived and calculated. In a lot of cases, teams had to rely on IT and database experts to do these types of queries, and the unfortunately lacked intimate knowledge of supply chain and demand fulfillment processes. With analytics, we have the potential for a much more empowered user and analyst.

All of that stated, we tend to know that senior executives will always challenge the assumptions related to a series of potential decisions. Newer analytical capabilities allows even these executives to explore the assumptions and conclusions.

Q: Should we use a 5 step monthly S&OP process if we have advanced analytics with more real time insights for changes?

Response: That is, of course, an individual team choice but I can’t help but conclude that as S&OP teams work on building something similar to the information architecture I described during the webinar, supplemented with more predictive capabilities and insights, the process is bound to accelerate in cycle. I especially believe that when you factor Step #1 Data Gathering and consider elements of Steps 4 & 5, the Pre-Meeting and the Executive meeting, that there is bound to be some time savings and acceleration of the overall process.


I want to conclude this blog posting by expressing my thanks to both the Steelwedge team, and to the audience, for their positive feedback regarding gaining insights from our session. Let me also reinforce some of my final recommendations:

  • The goal is enhancing S&OP decision making needs, not the capability nor the technologies themselves.
  • Tailor analytics capabilities to help support most important S&OP process priorities. Seriously consider a centralized team to support these capabilities.
  • Begin in small managed scope, learn, and expand.
  • It is critical to strive for high data quality and well understood information taxonomy.
  • This is not about rip and replace of existing legacy backbone systems but rather an insertion of augmented analytics capability.

Best wishes on your initiatives and don’t hesitate to contact me if you need further assistance.

Bob Ferrari

What is Your S&OP Data Telling You? Find Out at the SCOPE Fall Conference

What is your planning data telling you? If it’s not able to answer the following types of questions, you’re selling your business short:

  • How is our sales funnel impacting our demand plan?
  • What is the revenue risk if we are below plan?
  • What is the inventory risk if we are above plan?
  • Are our channels ready to back up our product launch goals?

This topic will be addressed by EJ Tavella, Vice President, Strategic Sales and Solutions, and Seema Phull, Principal, NorthFind Partners, at the SCOPE Fall conference, which will be held August 11-13, 2013 at the Arizona Biltmore in Scottsdale.


Tavella and Phull’s presentation “What is Your S&OP Data Telling You?” is scheduled for August 12 at 2:00 pm MST and will  cover case studies, methodology and technology options to deliver critical data context:

  • Identify the crux of your key business issues
  • Isolate a consistent set of data for establishing a starting point
  • Map the right context to the right initiatives and key stakeholders in your organization

The SCOPE conference is one of the leading executive-level supply chain conferences, hosting educational sessions, solution research and peer networking by global sales and operations planning (S&OP) and integrated business planning (IBP)experts. Steelwedge will also be exhibiting at the conference in Booth #505.

Will we see you there? Let us know in the comments!

The Role of Statistical Forecasting in S&OP

The collaborative nature of sales and operations planning (S&OP) begs the question: Do we need a statistical forecast? Is the “best-fit” engine a dinosaur that ought to be relegated to the past? Many companies ask these questions as if there is just one answer—yes or no. Progressive companies understand that statistical forecasts add value if used in the right way.

Statistical forecasts serve as a starting point based upon non-biased historical patterns. Salespeople are great at adjusting forecasts based upon their market and customer knowledge. Asking a salesperson to create a forecast without a starting value builds in bias from the start and often creates frustration for the salesperson who wants to devote time to pursuing leads rather than creating sales projections. In an effective S&OP process, collaboration builds on the statistical foundation.


But not all statistical forecasts produce a great starting point. Stable historical demand patterns typically produce more reliable statistical forecasts. Conversely, highly volatile demand patterns may produce unreliable statistical forecasts. The key is to identify which will add value. Products can be grouped as being good or bad candidates for statistical forecasting based on volatility and importance. Planning strategies can be assigned based upon segmentation using volatility and importance criteria. Good candidates are statistically forecast while bad candidates use planning approaches such as like item curve fit modeling for new products and reorder point for low volume or erratic demand items.

Statistical forecasting still has a place. To learn more about when and how you should use statistical forecasting, check out our new videos:

What Is Statistical Forecasting?

Statistical Forecast Analysis

A Best Fit Engine for Forecasting

How is your company using statistical forecasting? Let us know in the comments section.



Establishing a Single Plan of Record for Supply and Demand at Radisys

While outsourcing manufacturing operations can undoubtedly create distinct cost-saving benefits, it often also brings a loss of visibility and control. When Radisys, the market leader in enabling wireless infrastructure solutions, outsourced all of its manufacturing in 2009, the company found it no longer had a clear picture of its supply. Thus began a sales and operations planning (S&OP) journey that was chronicled in a webinar sponsored by Steelwedge and our partner icon-scm this week. Supply Chain Digest hosted the webinar, entitled “Building S&OP Shock Absorbers for your Business,” in which Dan Gilmore, editor of Supply Chain Digest, interviews Lisa Aleman, Director, Sales and Operations Planning and Control at Radisys.

Lisa shared that after outsourcing its manufacturing, Radisys still maintained visibility into its demand elements, but the supply elements were now managed by the contract manufacturer, rendering it relatively difficult to answer simple decisions such as “Do I have enough supply? Do I have enough demand? Can I commit to certain orders? Can I respond to this customer in a fast time frame?” The company no longer had a single plan of record to inform its decision-making process. Radisys regrouped in early 2010 and charted a course to implement the right infrastructure to maintain supply and demand all in one tool.

The company had several challenges to resolve with the initiative. Radisys’s contract manufacturer operated on a set of objectives and prioritization schemes that weren’t always conducive to what Radisys’ needs were. “To make matters even a little more complicated, we actually had a what I would call a ‘glorified Excel spreadsheet’ that was hooked to an Access database that had about 150 different file splices in it,” Lisa said. “Just generating the demand profile by itself was a problem because that tool basically broke every week, and since there were so many files splices in it, oftentimes we couldn’t even figure out where or what broke, only to have to be back in another cycle.”

In addition, Radisys’s forecasting system at the time was only updated monthly, the contract manufacturer was operating on a weekly cadence, and Radisys was trying to commit to orders on a daily basis. This gap in time frames meant that certain forecast elements were out of sync by two or three months in some cases.

“We were not making decisions and updating things nearly fast enough to cover the telecommunications market,” Lisa said. “By implementing Steelwedge for forecasting we were able to update our forecast in near real time whenever our customer program managers felt the need to do that. We were able to move that forecast into the icon-scm tool, which is where our demand is living, and then share that information with our contract manufacturer. We could get supply responses back all in one tool set, and it really sped things up for us and allowed us to see what our destiny was.” Radisys was able to complete most of the automation of the forecasting tool and the supply-demand tool within six months.

This represents just the tip of the iceberg. During the webinar, Lisa further explains how Steelwedge and icon-scm helped Radisys to:

  • Optimize decision support with one integrated and synchronized platform
  • Deliver more current forecasts to its contract manufacturers to enable better
    supply/demand alignment
  • Reduce its forecast cycle time from approximately 2.5 weeks to 1 to 1.5 weeks
  • Lower CPM input cycle time from 5 days to 3 days
  • Reduce operations cycle time from 4 days to 2 days
  • Decrease finance review time from 3 days to 2 days
  • Accommodate out-of-cycle changes more easily

To learn more about how Radisys acheived these benefits, click here to register and view the on-demand webinar. Does your S&OP process serve as a “shock absorber” that enables you to successfully navigate change? If so, tell us how in the comments.