Are You Ready to Select an S&OP Vendor? RFP Help Is Here

RFPimageSelecting a software vendor can feel like running a gauntlet. Big budgets are at stake, and oftentimes, choosing a vendor who can help a company achieve its business goals directly affects the career trajectory of those who have made the vendor selection.

The selection of a sales and operations planning (S&OP) solutions provider is no different. Multiple factors must be weighed in the decision-making process. Internal stakeholders have to align on a selection, and it’s often challenging for companies to know exactly what kind of technology and services they require to be truly successful at S&OP. It’s a daunting task, to be sure.

Creating a request for proposal (RFP) serves as a critical step in choosing an S&OP solutions provider. An RFP enables you to measure all vendors on the same criteria to ensure that they can meet your goals, and allows you to leverage better control over the vendor selection process.

But how do you get started in creating an RFP for an S&OP solutions provider?

Steelwedge is here to help. We’ve designed an RFP template to help you consider and rate key functionalities that an S&OP solution must have, and includes guidelines for considering important profile features that an S&OP solution vendor must have.

Some highlights of this S&OP RFP tool:

  1. S&OP Solution – Illustrates the requirement for a cross-functional planning environment to support S&OP stakeholders and their planning terms.
  2. Key Functionality – Over 50 key functional requirements for S&OP technology to help drive agility and adoption of your S&OP process. Use the scoring criteria to compare vendors and determine the best fit for your organization.
  3. Solution Profile – Key considerations when evaluating S&OP technology, vendor expertise and focus.


Download the RFP template by clicking here.

In addition, Steelwedge hosted a webinar entitled “S&OP RFP 101:
Evaluating Your ERP Vendor’s Solution vs. the Best-of-Breed,” which can be accessed on-demand here. This webinar is designed for companies considering implementing collaborative S&OP technology who need to understand how to overcome common business, technical and organizational challenges. S&OP experts discuss recommended project phase components and key project milestones, as well as the inherent value found in the newest features and functionality.

These two resources will get you well on your way to creating the S&OP RFP that’s right for your company.

Do you have any RFP best practices to share? Let us know in the comments section.

Corporate Social Responsibility at Work: Steelwedge and the Government Primary School, Borabanda, Hyderabad

With a major office in Hyderabad, Steelwedge recognized that there were significant opportunities to help improve the community there. So in January 2014, as part of its corporate social responsibility program, Steelwedge began working with Government Primary School (GPS), Borabanda. Our talented and dedicated workforce in the Hyderabad office has taken on this project with great passion and enthusiasm, contributing time to share knowledge by leading training and instructional classes to the students at GPSB Borabanda.

GPSB classroom

Steelwedge connected with GPS Borabanda after contacting government education body Rajiv Vidya Mission for a school recommendation. After visits to various schools, Steelwedge chose to work with GPSB for several reasons: the school lacked resources and staff; the school was never approached by any other corporation or organization for any collaborative quality-enhancement or infrastructure development project; and despite a lack of amenities, the school’s average attendance rate is 78%.

About the Government Primary School, Borabanda

Government Primary School in Sai Baba Nagar, Borabanda is the only government-run primary school for more than 800 families in the slum-like municipal area of Borabanda in Hyderabad.

The school opened in 2000 under the Government of India education policy of providing free education for all. The primary school serves children in classes 1 to 5 via English, Telugu and Urdu. The school welcomes any child eager to learn and join the academic community. Classes include English, Telugu, math, and environmental studies, which includes both social studies and science. Six teachers and one principal comprise the staff.

Government Primary School, Borabanda: Student Profile

  • Parents: typically working odd jobs such as drivers, cleaners, laundry-helpers, domestic servants.
  • Monthly household income of parents: US$150 USD with both parents working.
  • Monthly household income if children of the family work too: US$200-250
  • Student Age Profile: 5 – 10 yrs
  • No. of students in English Medium: 75
  • No. of students in Telugu Medium: 100
  • No. of students in Urdu Medium: 55

GPSB maintains an objective to dissuade parents from sending children to work and encourages them to keep children in school for the long-term benefit to their families, for a better future for the children and to improve the community.

GPSB class

The Mid-day Meal Scheme, a government-run meal program, offers the students meals for free every weekday. This has been a successful program, keeping children in school and preventing malnourishment.

The school aims to recruit more students from the neighborhood and give them a chance at education.

Steelwedge Workshops to Date

Steelwedge and GPS Borabanda have together launched a quality enhancement program to benefit the students of the school. Through this program, Steelwedge will make its resources available through activities such as workshops, competitions, lectures, video screening, mentoring programs, and tailor-made learning initiatives. These programs are included in the curriculum of the school alongside the prescribed government curriculum.

The goal is to expose students to a variety of subject and offer basic understanding and knowledge of skills that could benefit students greatly in secondary and higher schools.

GPSB student

So far, 8 workshops have been successfully held:

  • Inter-class drawing competition
  • Our Country: Our World
  • Spoken English Lessons
  • Our Food: Our Health
  • Reading the Clock
  • Symmetry (Mathematics)
  • Child Rights

Infrastructure and Other Needs

GPS Borabanda has recently moved into a new government building, and though it is an improvement from the prior building, it still lacks basic infrastructure and funds to make necessary improvements. The following is a list of infrastructural needs that the school lacks

  • Fencing, tables, chairs and benches, school bell
  • Supplies – safe drinking water, hand sanitizer, tissues, etc.
  • Technology needs: computers with Internet
  • Library
  • Teaching aides such as maps, charts, and projectors

Learn More

Steelwedge has created social media pages for GPS Borabanda, where you can learn more about the school:




We’re honored to play a role in improving the lives of students at GPS Borabanda. We’d love to hear about other corporate social responsibility programs and help spread the good word. Tell us what your company is doing in the comments section.

S&OP: The Tug of War Between Cutting Costs and the Pursuit of Growth

tug of warToo many priorities. It’s a problem most of us face at some point in both our personal and professional lives. Organizations are no different. Executives in Sales, Operations, and Finance across industries will tell you they have too many priorities and face challenges like:

  • Choosing the right priorities—those that align with corporate strategy and financial objectives
  • Finding the resources and technology to support those priorities
  • Cannibalizing important growth initiatives under the guise of saving costs

By all accounts, IT spending is on the rise. That’s great news for vendors and customers alike. However, after the economic downturn six years ago, organizations find themselves in a constant tug of war between growth and controlling costs. Two conflicting priorities indeed.

Because the avenues to growth are many and roads to success few, companies need the right process, the right partner and the right technology to enable both more now than ever.

When it comes to sales and operations planning (S&OP), it’s keenly important to understand the connection between strategy, the decision-making process and behaviors that bring strategic vision to life. Add the context of delivering growth in unpredictable circumstances while controlling costs, and you’ve got quite a balancing act on your hands.

On July 15 and 16, Chris Turner, co-founder of StrataBridge, will take some of the tug out of the war during a webinar in which he will discuss S&OP in the context of balancing control vs. growth—with a look at the prospects and pitfalls of balancing global, regional and local planning and decision making.

Please join us for this webinar to learn how to optimize your company’s approach to drive growth, whether you are new to S&OP and demand planning or you are evolving your strategy and process.

Click here to register for the North America session on July 15 at 10amPDT/1pmEDT.

Click here to register for the EMEA session on July 16 at 3pmBST/4pmCEST.

How do you balance control with growth at your company? Share your challenges and best practices in the comments!

Got Cloud? The Most Advanced Supply Chains Do

What do companies who have an advanced supply chain do differently than their less mature counterparts? A recent report from Gartner (in partnership with Supply Chain Digest) provides one clear insight into a competitive differentiator:

The more advanced a company’s supply chain is, the more likely it is to have acquired cloud-based systems.

The results from the survey of nearly 500 supply chain professionals show that 18% of level 1 supply chains (least mature) are using some type of cloud/software as a service (SaaS) solution for supply chain management, versus 57% for the most mature level 4 companies.

SCM Cloud AdoptionGartner anticipates significant expansion in both “private” and “public” cloud deployments, however it still expects that by 2021, approximately 60% of all supply chain software deployments will be traditional license models–a small decline from current levels. Supply Chain Digest editor Dan Gilmore disagrees, writing, “I believe Cloud will take a bigger share by then, as I have argued in the past.”

Another recent report from SCM World demonstrated that cloud solutions improve supply chain performance. SCM World identified Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), Transportation Management Systems (TMS), Spare Parts Management and Store Shelf Optimization as the most cloud-friendly supply chain processes with the most capability to deliver the network effect throughout a supply chain. According to the report, “the network effect is maximised for functions that are best served when a large number of suppliers and/or customers benefit from rapid access to information that can streamline business.”

Rapid access to information is the fuel that drives collaboration within the supply chain. It’s no surprise that 46% of the SCM World respondents said that greater supply chain collaboration leads to problems being solved twice as quickly. Because cloud-based platforms facilitate more effective collaboration,  companies with large-scale supply chains are adopting cloud solutions in increasing numbers in an effort to increase agility and improve response time to their most challenging problems.

As a the leader and pioneer in cloud sales and operations planning, Steelwedge has been advocating for years that S&OP belongs in the cloud. So, we’re always pleased to see reports that validate the success of cloud applications for supply chain and S&OP. What do you think? Will cloud solutions for supply chain management expand more rapidly than Gartner predicts? What else does the future hold for supply chains in the cloud? Let us know in the comments.

Steelwedge Sales Pipeline Bridge: Now on Salesforce1 AppExchange

AppExchangeIt’s an exciting time for Steelwedge, our partners and our customers. Cloud computing is on the rise. More and more companies are not only adopting cloud technologies, but making cloud a strategic priority. As the leader in cloud Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) solutions, Steelwedge understands better than most how the cloud, coupled with social and mobile collaboration, can transform your business. Simply put, we get it.

With that backdrop, I’m very pleased to announce the launch of Steelwedge Sales Pipeline Bridge on Salesforce1 AppExchange, the world’s leading business apps marketplace. Steelwedge Sales Pipeline Bridge systematically captures the sales opportunities in users’ Salesforce1 Sales Cloud and intelligently filters and transforms sales data into a view that is meaningful to finance, product management, operations and executive management. With Steelwedge Sales Pipeline Bridge, companies can align sales pipeline-based and demand history-based forecasts, enabling them to quickly identify and respond to changing market conditions and improve revenue predictability.

The combination of Steelwedge and, two powerhouses in cloud technology, empowers businesses to connect with customers, partners and employees in a whole new way. Exciting times indeed!

Just today, ZDNet posted an article entitled, “CIO priorities are different around the world, but the cloud is one consistent factor.” It’s a great read and reiterates that, irrespective of industry or geography, cloud technology is top of mind for CIOs trying to take their businesses to the next level. While shrinking IT budgets, consolidation, and continuous changes in technology are here to stay, I believe that cloud helps companies face these challenges head on—protecting profits and delivering agility all at once.

But don’t just take their word for it (or mine!) This infographic, posted recently by CloudTech, demonstrates in one powerful picture, the explosive growth of cloud computing and what’s to come.

  • 2008: Global cloud computing industry estimated to be worth $46 billion. By the end of 2014, it’s predicted to be in excess of $150 billion.
  • More than three quarters of respondents to a recent Forbes survey use some form of cloud computing and 86% of those companies use more than one type of cloud services.
  • Last but not least, studies predict that more than 50% of all information technology will be in the cloud in the next five to ten years!

My take? If you’re not in the cloud, your competitors are probably eating your lunch—or will be soon. But don’t panic, the time is now to make the transition. Take a look at your business, educate yourself, and join forces with Steelwedge and to connect like never before.

You can find more detail on the Sales Pipeline Bridge solution in my previous blog post or visit .

As always, questions and comments are most welcome. I look forward to hearing from you!

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.

S&OP Analytics: Reports vs. Dashboards

This blog post was authored by Kaushal Dave, Product Marketing Manager, Steelwedge.

Your sales and operations planning (S&OP) data needs to make sense, and knowing the difference between an S&OP report and an interactive S&OP dashboard—and when each should be used—can help you organize your data in a way that is both comprehensible and accessible. While Steelwedge reports and dashboards are both capable of turning collected data into useful information, they radically differ in functionality and usability.

Reports are a traditional way of summarizing data such as scenario comparison or revenue reports by geo or products, etc. Providing information based on detailed S&OP data generated from a specific search, reports tend to be detailed and complex in nature. And while they may include some visual components such as graphs or charts, they are typically text-heavy and designed to be displayed as a document or printed for distribution.

Steelwedge Excel Dashboards, on the other hand, are much more interactive in the way data is presented. Relying on visual indicators and macro-based techniques with drilldown and slicing capabilities to display an array of information—which often include condensed S&OP reports—dashboards allow online user participation to create a simple, easily accessible interface that can be accessed by virtually anyone anywhere.

Steelwedge’s Insight Excel Interactive Dashboards display only the most vital information on different phases of S&OP (Product Management, Demand Review, Supply Review, Executive S&OP, Integrated Reconciliation, Management Review and more) gathered from a big data set. And while they may not be as detailed as reports, this interactive dashboard can provide quick answers to some really big questions from just one glance.

Insight graphic

Steelwedge Insight Excel Dashboard – Sample

But even with the introduction of new interactive dashboards, Steelwedge reporting still plays an important role in delivering useful information. Knowing what kind of information you’re looking for helps you determine when to use a report and when to use a dashboard so you can successfully measure your company performance and drive your business forward.

Key Features of Steelwedge Insight Excel Dashboards

  • Data filtering using top and bottom X ranking for any geo, product, BU or country, etc.
  • Cockpit view to see all KPIs in a single place
  • Integrating the excel “Slicer” capability with dashboards enables users to perform quick filtering, root-cause analysis and data discovery

The key to making data useful in an S&OP process is not looking at every single data point, but instead, determining and focusing on key performance indicators that are truly meaningful to your plan. Steelwedge Insight Excel analytic dashboards based around those KPIs, when configured to your needs, can make even the most complex data consumable and useful.

Identifying meaningful insight with huge amount of historic and forecast time series within your supply chain can not only be helpful for you, but can also make the information you’re providing more easily understandable to others within your organization. Your top executives don’t have time to analyze various reports, statistics and spreadsheets. Pulling the relevant information together into one place, with key data at the forefront, makes your data more valuable and helps executives make better decisions.

The Steelwedge Insight Excel Dashboard, which is now a part of the S&OP Insight module within the Steelwedge solution, allows:

  • Faster decision making on large data sets that require visibility into consensus what-if analysis
  • A shared view of a situation to align executives on needed actions
  • Insight for each phase of their S&OP cycle, in a single Excel view

For more information on Steelwedge S&OP Insight, click here.

How are you currently using S&OP reports and/or dashboards? Let us know in the comments!

Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2014: Creating and Sustaining Excellence

Steelwedge is proud to serve as a Silver Sponsor of Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference 2014, which will be held May 20-22 at the JW Marriott in Phoenix. The theme of this year’s conference is “Creating and Sustaining Excellence in the Supply Chain,” and over the years, the conference has earned its own reputation for excellence. Widely considered to be the world’s most important gathering of senior supply chain executives, the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference gives attendees the opportunity to deliver the greatest business value for their enterprise over the coming decade. The 2014 role-based agenda will identify tried and true strategies, drawing on 10 years of Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 research. You can find Steelwedge in Booth #214 at the conference.

evtm_261_05_SC_468x60 (2)

Steelwedge is also hosting a lunch round table session at the Gartner Conference on Wednesday, May 21, at 12:30 pm in Grand Sonoran H. This is an exclusive opportunity for attendees to enhance their participation at the Supply Chain Executive Conference.

Session information:

Fast track to S&OP Maturity: The HP experience and insight

Sales and operations planning has existed for 30-plus years, but most companies get stuck at an early stage of Gartner’s Five-Stage Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) Maturity Model. This session will offer real-world insights on breaking through to higher levels.

• Hear from HP about how S&OP and collaborative demand planning technology improves its business results

• Learn from how to translate sales funnel information in CRM into demand planning insights

• Learn how people, process and technology can align around S&OP


  • Pervinder Johar, Supply Chain CIO, HP
  • Shubber Ali, Vice President Strategic Innovation,
  • Glen Margolis, Chief Executive Officer, Steelwedge Software

This session has limited space and is only available to a select number of Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference attendees. To register, click here.

If you’re attending the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, don’t forget to stop by Booth #214 to speak with Steelwedge. In the meantime, let us know in the comments section what you hope to take away from the event!

Kemira Selects Steelwedge for Global Demand Planning and Supply/Demand Balancing

Kemira logoSteelwedge is proud to add Kemira, a chemicals company serving customers in water-intensive industries, to its prestigious customer list.

Kemira chose Steelwedge to support global demand planning and supply/demand balancing based on the solution’s user-friendliness and flexibility to support the end-to-end S&OP process and cross-functional collaboration. Steelwedge’s expertise in implementing S&OP for global supply chains was also a critical factor in Kemira’s selection. This, together with scenario generation, will provide greater capability understanding when processing increased volume requests as well as delivering a single set of agreed numbers to drive the monthly planning process.

The solution will be rolled out to approximately 500 users throughout EMEA, Canada, US, Mexico, APAC and South America within Kemira’s Paper, Municipal & Industrial, Oil & Mining Segments.

“Steelwedge’s technology will increase the overall transparency of our S&OP process and continue our journey towards improved demand planning and sales-demand balancing,” said Raymond Kok, Senior Manager Global Supply Chain Planning Processes/Supply Chain Management. “The improved forecast accuracy from Steelwedge will provide both input for our financial planning cycle and enable inventory reductions. Being cloud-based means it can support our global roll-out and manage the complexity we have and the scalability we need.”

John Sookias, Steelwedge SVP Global Sales & Managing Director, EMEA added, “We are delighted to support Kemira in its ongoing S&OP journey and to deliver the benefits of  more detailed financial planning information on a global basis and  a more collaborative demand planning process through Steelwedge Sales Pipeline Bridge.”

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.