Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) leaders are operating in a business environment beset by change.
The inherent complexities of the global supply chain is coupled with companies increasingly looking to outsource as many elements of manufacturing and distribution as possible. In order to stay competitive, S&OP leaders must make sure they plan and implement supply chain strategies that are not just as thorough and precise as possible, but agile enough to adapt to any shocks that may arise.
Central to achieving this is establishing and maintaining a high degree of collaboration with partners in the chain. Communication is of paramount importance across the board. This communication does not just cover emails and meetings, there must also be a smooth flow of information up and down the chain, so that any data can be extracted and applied in real time. In order to limit costs and save on wastage, companies must have an exact idea of where demand is needed as and when it comes up, and a good idea of where it is likely to increase or decrease. For this to happen, a chain must be as responsive as possible, with collaboration necessary to achieve this.
Key to this is integration. A collaborative platform is needed which brings together people and their data from all the participating organizations, both within and without an enterprise, including trading partners. Some innovators are now looking at the possibilities made available by social S&OP.
Social S&OP is fundamentally a social network for members of a supply chain which allows users to streamline data gathering, work together on projects, flag issues, communicate immediately, and track conversations. It is effective in that it allows for one ‘post’ to be viewed by everyone at once, so rather a communication that may previously have taken hours to reach parts of the chain can be viewed immediately by everyone. For example, if one area experiences a sudden rush in demand, each member of the team can quickly and effectively accomplish the task set out in the S&OP plan.
An integral part of any such platform is having fresh synchronized data. Effective communication is not just about the technology being used, operations teams must also make sure they are precise in everything they input and extract. They must also plan contingencies for all possible occurrences that could arise.
To learn more about this topic, attend the S&OP Innovation Summit, taking place in Boston on September 24 & 25. For more information see here