The question as to whether the process must be defined before a system is installed is frequently asked. The traditional answer was that the process needs to be clearly defined before any system is installed. This advice is based on a long legacy of experience implementing ERP, traditional SCM, and CRM systems. However, S&OP solutions are a new and unique animal — fundamentally they are automating a process, driving collaboration, and pulling together disparate sources of data. This unique category of application demands a different approach — Technology-enabled process automation.
Today’s S&OP systems such as the Steelwedge solution are designed to enable process automation or design. Trade-offs in regard to the timing, level of detail, and steps in a process are often dictated by the availability of data, the timing and sequencing of various systems and activities, and many other details which can only be resolved in the context of the S&OP solution driving the S&OP process.