With an ever-changing economic landscape and a continuous demand for businesses to innovate and implement new processes, planning is fundamental for success. There are of course numerous ways businesses can plan and execute ideas, but without a standardised process organisations cannot forecast for change, drive a strong culture, nor establish a sense of accountability.
To understand how businesses can best implement such processes and plan ahead, we met with highly experienced Supply Chain Leader, Rupert Tubbs. Rupert also holds extensive experience and understanding of how to successfully implement Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP).
1. What is Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)?
Sales and Operations Planning is simply a way of organising a business to maximise efficiency and minimise waste. People talk about S&OP as being a process but it is much more than that, it is a mindset.
In its simplest form, it is a series of meetings that control underlying operational processes, create transparency and accountability and provide an environment for decision-making. It is a way of working and collaborating that ensures a business is aligned from end to end (something every business needs). It ensures customers get what they want when they want it and prevents stocks from gathering dust in the warehouse. It also supports factories in being as efficient as they can be and ensures targets are met and shareholders are satisfied.
Arguably, this is a great deal to ask of a simple process but S&OP, when well run, can deliver all of the above because it drives accountability, transparency and team collaboration across all functions.
2. What can Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) do for you?
So many of our businesses operate in silos. This is not surprising as business is increasingly complex and just getting through the ‘to-do list’ can take up the day, let alone worrying about other people’s problems. But other people’s problems are your problems, or soon will be, and running an integrated process is vital to efficiency and effectiveness. It will save you from wasted time and resources in the future.
Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) provides an environment for integrated thinking. Forecasts, stock levels, manufacturing plans, innovation projects, budgets and investments are all influenced by an effective S&OP process. Each will be aligned with the other, there will be clarity of accountability, transparency of performance, clear decision-making and director-level governance.
If you think you are lacking any of these, have friction between functions, or if you find your team pulling in opposite directions, then perhaps S&OP is the solution you need.
3. What do you need for a successful S&OP implementation?
There are three things that are essential to a successful implementation:
1. Commitment and enthusiasm of the managing director
2. Access to good quality and consistent data
3. Culture of collaboration
Leadership, as in all business-wide initiatives, is essential. Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) provides directors with a platform to make key decisions and drive improvement. If they do not engage in the process then your S&OP process will be a shriveled and miserable thing.
Without good data you will not be able to make good decisions. It must be presented effectively and simply, so it can be understood. There is nothing more frustrating than spending a meeting disputing the facts.
Finally, everyone involved needs to be prepared to collaborate. S&OP exposes the stresses between conflicting objectives. It is designed to do so and only then can you make the decisions that drive shareholder value rather than local priorities. It may be painful and it may require you to sacrifice your personal objectives, but it will help you achieve the best outcome for the business.
If you are considering implementing a strategy for maximising efficiency, minimising waste and more importantly establishing an accountable business culture, feel free to get in touch directly for confidential discussion: email@example.com.
Supply Chain Leader and Project Manager with a reputation for many successful S&OP implementations and for driving transformational change in businesses throughout Europe.
Clients include Unicef, Kwik Fit, Krispy Kreme, Weetabix, Bakkavor, The Royal Mint,
Baxi, Vaillant, Buildbase, Plumbase, NHS, British Gypsum, Polypipe, Sasol, Avis, Autoglass and Bridgewater Pottery.