The Top 6 Capabilities of an Ideal S&OP Solution


According to recent Gartner research, companies that are at the forefront of sales and
operations planning (S&OP) have significantly improved their overall business performance. These companies attribute a more than 7% improvement in cash flow and 6% improvement in gross profit to a successful S&OP process. Moreover, these companies enjoy twice the improvements in areas like working capital and total supply chain costs than their counterparts. These staggering statistics further demonstrate the potential benefits associated with a successful S&OP process. So what prevents your company from
successfully implementing a mature S&OP process and reaping the same benefits?

While role of executive sponsorship and open collaboration between cross-functional teams plays a key role in S&OP success, the primary reason that most companies cannot advance beyond Stage 2 of the Gartner Five-Stage Sales and Operations Planning Maturity Model is a lack of enabling S&OP technology. We’ve written about the five stages of S&OP maturity before, but here’s another look at Gartner’s S&OP Maturity model:

Gartner 5 stages

So what are the key components of a technology solution that can advance you past Stage 2 maturity? The following list features six capabilities that are a must-have in an S&OP software solution:

  1. A single unified data model for global scenario management across supply, demand and finance with ability to drive and reconcile demand, supply and finance plans from it
  2. Rich collaborative capabilities, so various team members can work together on a shared view of the data
  3. An easy-to-use platform with an Excel-based front end, so teams can start using the solution without any training
  4. Online analytics that enable scenario modeling about potential future events and then help the team pinpoint the best possible trade-offs within its specific business constraints for better and faster decision making
  5. Mobile and Web-based access, so team members can access information and collaborate wherever they are
  6. Cloud rather than an on-premise solution for two reasons: a) The solution must be able to bring data from multiple sources (both, external and internal) for global scenario management across supply, demand and finance – cloud offers a better architecture for it, and b) the ability to deploy the solution quickly across the organization so everyone is aligned, which is the hallmark of a cloud model because no hardware and software purchase is needed, no data center setup is required and no CapEx needs to be approved and allocated.

Addressing all six must-have capabilities listed above, the Steelwedge cloud solution is used by respected enterprises across the world to improve their S&OP process. Key platform and application capabilities include:

The following benefit curve highlights that companies plateau on the Gartner S&OP
maturity model if they continue to run their S&OP process using multiple spreadsheets.

SW Benefit Maturity Curve

Steelwedge not only enables them to get on the right trajectory, but it also accelerates time to value with its single data model, rich planning and analytics capabilities and cloud-based architecture. Companies have improved the maturity levels of their S&OP process and experienced significant improvements in their operational metrics–check out some of our success stories here.