At John Galt Solutions, we noticed a major trend in 2015 with our customers: a marked increase in confidence that their businesses will grow healthily over the next 1-3 years. This expectation subsequently beget other major strategic and tactical initiatives for our customers.
To prepare for growth they needed to refine their processes and ensure they had the right technology solutions in place to support those processes. In particular, many companies are maturing in their sales and operations planning (S&OP).
Every company is different, and S&OP maturity means different things for each one. However, the basic premise, using the Supply Chain Insights S&OP Evolution model (see Fig. 1), is that they move from an inside-out to an outside-in approach. This is a continuum that progresses from a focus on driving efficient internal operational plans to sensing, shaping and even orchestrating demand in the market. As companies mature along this continuum they need the appropriate supporting technologies.
As a result of all this, we saw many companies in 2015 upgrading their supply chain planning tools through replacement or supplementation. A disillusionment phase seems to have settled in on what they were able to achieve with their ERP systems, and the associated planning capabilities with these systems, over the last few years. Their ability to plan new products, incorporate multiple demand streams such as POS data and market intelligence, as well as handle the organic and/or inorganic growth in their business were becoming increasingly difficult if not impossible with their current technology. Therefore, we saw many customers replace or supplement these systems with our specialized demand and supply planning solutions.
For example, one particular customer of John Galt’s, a large diversified corporation, needed to expand their global planning capabilities while maintaining tight integration with their ERP system. After successfully implementing the Atlas Planning Portal and Demand Management Engine as part of their S&OP process they have been able to maximize opportunities to meet the growing needs of their business.
The other initiative we saw as a result of planning for the expected growth in business was the transition from spreadsheets to a central planning tool. While the majority of companies still rely on spreadsheets in some form to support their supply chain processes we observed a strong trend to transition to a more integrated planning tool. Excel was no longer able to handle their companies’ growing and complex needs. There are several reasons for this, and here are few of the top ones we have seen:
- Cumbersome collaboration – too many planners and stakeholders in different places, all trying to provide feedback asynchronously
- Complexity of data– unable to accommodate the need for multiple layers of data across a global organization
- Delays in analysis & reporting - inability to respond to business & market changes in a timely fashion
With the right solution, customers can alleviate all these symptoms and achieve excellent ROI from increased sales and operational improvements.
All these changes we observed in 2015 were about retooling and preparing for growth. Companies are seeing a positive future and with that they need to fashion the right process and systems to support the company’s growth in the coming years and their S&OP maturation.
What are you seeing in your business? Are you growing and retooling to support growth and S&OP maturity?