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 salesforce.com 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 salesforce.com how to translate sales funnel information in CRM into demand planning insights

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

Speakers:

  • Pervinder Johar, Supply Chain CIO, HP
  • Shubber Ali, Vice President Strategic Innovation, salesforce.com
  • 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, Salesforce.com

Bruce Richardson, Chief Strategy Officer, Salesforce.com

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. Salesforce.com 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, Salesforce.com
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.

Driving Superior Business Performance Through Supply Chain Innovation: SCMI Spring Symposium


Steelwedge is proud to participate in the University of San Diego’s 3rd Annual Supply Chain Management Institute Spring Symposium, which will be held April 14-15, 2014 at the university.

Ed Lewis, Steelwedge

Ed Lewis, Steelwedge

Ed Lewis, Steelwedge Vice President of Product Marketing and Planning, will serve as a panelist on a discussion entitled, “How Technology is Enabling and Driving Supply Chain Innovation.” The panel will address how competition in supply chains is always increasing, forcing companies and supply chains to search for new technologies and innovations that lead to superior performance. Topics of discussion will include new supply chain technologies, potential technology innovations, and key factors influencing the adoption of supply chain technologies in order to achieve superior business performance.

Other panelists include Angel Mendez of Cisco Systems, John Urban of GT Nexus, Inc., and Mark Utter of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. David Pyke of the University of San Diego will serve as the moderator.  The panel discussion takes place on Tuesday, April 15 at 12:45 pm PDT.

About the SCMI Spring Symposium:

There is little doubt that creating and sustaining an innovative supply chain can lead to superior business performance. This includes gaining competitive advantage, increasing market share, and creating greater levels of profitability.  SCMI’s Spring Symposium is a thought-provoking event focused on the power of innovation. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn how other business leaders are leveraging innovation to drive superior business performance.

The event will address various areas where creating an innovative supply chain can lead to superior business performance. Some of the subjects that will be discussed include:

  • Incorporating Innovation into your Supply Chain Strategy
  • Creating a Culture of Innovation
  • Strategic Sourcing & Procurement
  • Supply Chain Collaboration
  • Creating a Sustainable Supply Chain
  • Supply Chain Technology
  • Green Supply Chains
  • Outsourcing, Near-sourcing, Re-shoring
  • Talent Management
  • Managing Supply Chain Risk and Complexity

For more information on the SCMI Spring Symposium, click here.

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

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 Salesforce.com – 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.

Share Your Insights: Participate in Supply Chain and Manufacturing Research


supplychaininsightslogo_220x125tSteelwedge has been privileged to work with Lora Cecere’s Supply Chain Insights on a variety of research projects. The goal of Supply Chain Insights is to conduct and openly share top-notch industry research among the supply chain community. In order to do this, it counts on supply chain professionals to participate in its surveys. 

We’d like to invite you to share your insights by participating in two of Supply Chain Insights’ current open surveys. Completing these surveys will take just a few minutes of your time, and Supply Chain Insights is currently offering all survey participants a one-hour phone call with their research leaders to review the results.

Supply Chain Risk Management Survey: Click Here to Respond. 

  • What is the state of risk management at your company?
  • How does it compare to what it was five years ago and what you expect five years in the future?
  • What techniques do you use to manage supply chain risk

For Manufacturers, Retailers, Wholesalers/Distributors/Co-operatives and Third-Party Logistics Providers. This survey closes the evening of Friday, March 28, 2014, so you must respond today!

Digital Manufacturing Survey: Click Here to Respond

  • Will 3D printing and digital processes re-invent manufacturing?
  • Where are companies on the path towards using digital manufacturing technologies?

For Manufacturers and Retailers who manufacture products.  Specifically those in supply chain, IT, manufacturing, corporate social responsibility and business leadership roles.

Please take a few minutes to answer these surveys, and let us know your thoughts on these topics in the comments!

Making a Smart S&OP Technology Selection: Are You Prepared?


Lora Cecere, Founder, Supply Chain Insights

Lora Cecere, Founder, Supply Chain Insights

Steelwedge is excited to host a webinar with Lora Cecere, founder of Supply Chain Insights, on Thursday, May 27, at 9:00 am PDT/12:00 pm EDT entitled “The Why and the How Guide to Making a Smart S&OP Technology Selection.” Click here to register.

While sales and operations planning (S&OP) has been around for 30 years, there remains significant opportunity for companies to fully benefit from it. Many manufacturers “get stuck” at the supply/demand balancing level and never progress into Integrated Business Planning (IBP). Why? It’s because the vast majority of companies still use Excel and manual efforts to drive their S&OP processes.

While no company will ever completely abandon spreadsheets, those who attempt to achieve S&OP maturity with only disconnected processes and solutions will never drive truly collaborative, scalable planning. The alternative lies in selecting the right technology to power S&OP to the next level.

In this webinar, Lora Cecere will provide direction on:

  1. How the right S&OP technology can render big business benefits
  2. How S&OP technologies have changed over time
  3. How to select the S&OP solution that best fits your requirements
  4. How to avoid the pitfalls of implementation

Join this session to understand how technologies have changed and how you can select the solution that best fits your requirements.

Who should attend:

  • S&OP and Supply Chain Leadership
  • Demand/Forecast Planners
  • Business Planners
  • Heads of IT
  • Anyone involved in or leading an S&OP RFP project

We hope you can join us for what will undoubtedly be an informative and interactive webinar. Click here to register today.

In the meantime, what is your best advice for making an S&OP technology selection? Let us know in the comments.

Women in Supply Chain: Is The Gap Narrowing?


Michelle Jones, Vice President, Alliances, Steelwedge

Michelle Jones, Vice President, Alliances, Steelwedge

By all accounts, the gap between men and women in IT is narrowing. (At least that’s what I hear.) I read article after article stating roles and salaries for women in IT are on more of an equal footing with our male peers than ever before. That is GREAT news and might just be because women are starting in tech earlier and earlier.

This Huffington Post article, aptly entitled, “Will Women Dominate the Tech Field?” states that women outnumber men for the first time in a UC Berkeley Computer Science course. It might seem small, but it could be the start of something very big. If you like pictures—and who doesn’t?—check out this infographic from Women Who Tech to see just how and why the walls are coming down.

I’m personally thrilled to see women excel in technology. Not because we’re women, but because we possess an equally valuable skill set as our male counterparts and have just as much to contribute. The more IT talent there is out there, the faster the advances in areas like cloud computing, enterprise software and supply chain.

So, if the numbers are really trending in the right direction, I have to ask why research shows women only occupy 10 percent of supply chain leadership roles? A January 2014 article in Supply Management cites that figure from an SCM World review of Fortune Global 500 firms. Staggering.

I am a female executive in supply chain, albeit serving that industry versus managing supply chain operations, and I can’t get my arms around that number. I haven’t attended a product demo in recent history that did NOT include female management team member, so I needed to delve into this further.

What I found is interesting and made me feel a little better.

  • Mary Barra, GM’s EVP, Global Product Development & Global Purchasing and Supply Chain topped Fortune’s esteemed “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” list in 2013. Not too shabby!
  • LinkedIn boasts approximately 20 groups dedicated to women in supply chain. I bet that number was much smaller a few years ago.
  • SCM World held an event just last month dedicated to identifying those lessons learned by women who have risen to the top of the supply chain profession featuring a cast of exceptional female supply chain leaders from BP, Starbucks, Mars, Cisco, Colgate-Palmolive and more.  That’s some pretty serious cross-industry female talent guiding impressive, global organizations.

Finally, Supply & Demand Chain Executive came out with its 2014 “Supply Chain Provider Pros to Know” list last week. I was thrilled to make the list along with two of my male colleagues. And, candidly, it was the catalyst for this blog post. I was pleased to see the number of women recognized as individuals who support clients and this community to prepare for supply chain challenges in the year ahead. While not quite as dire as the 10 percent figure above, it’s clear we need more women in the ranks.

What can we do to promote more women in the supply chain profession? Here are my recommendations:

  1. Be a mentor. If you are a woman in technology or supply chain, pay it forward. Mentor a young woman looking to break into the field. There are global, national and local organizations to help facilitate that, or you can simply offer your experience to someone in your network.
  2. Don’t focus on gender, focus on ability. That’s my two cents, and it’s worked for me throughout my career.
  3. Reach out to the experts. There are some fabulous men and women in supply chain who are ready, willing and able to share their knowledge and guidance. Here are links to a few of the folks I admire the most in the field. If you don’t follow them, you should.


Lora Cecere
: Founder of Supply Chain Insights
@lcecere; @SCInsightsLLC and http://supplychaininsights.com/

Peter Bolstorff: CEO & President of Supply Chain Excellence
@SCEsupplychain and http://www.scelimited.com/

Cindy Jutras: President, Mint Jutras
@ERP_cindyjutras and http://www.mintjutras.com/

Seema Phull: Partner, NorthFind Partners
http://north-find.com/

Kevin O’Marah, Chief Content Officer, SCM World
@komarah and http://www.scmworld.com/

Thanks for reading. If you have comments, questions or gripes, please do share them in the comments. I welcome your feedback.