There's an awful lot of theory surrounding the S&OP process, with the general consensus that collaboration through the engagement of all business functions is essential to the success of the process.
Below, I take a look at the process and explore how each stage can be delivered successfully.
Forecasting is where the process should begin. Data collection is the key here, determining a baseline forecast early on and making sure there are no anomalies present. This baseline then has to be adjusted to fit in with recent developments, including, upcoming promotions and predictable market fluctuations. After this, demand should be discussed with senior management, with an emphasis on goals which are achievable in the near future.
At this point in the process it's essential that everything is reviewed so that it works for each department. These meetings should look at realistic constraints in regards to machinery and people and identify ways in which the process can be implemented more efficiently.
This is where the constraints identified in the supply meetings should be brought to bear. Additionally, this is where your forecast should be approved, along with the evaluation of performance measures and contingency plans if any problems were to occur. At this stage in the process opportunities should be discussed, also.
The Final Process
The CEO should lead the final process and make sure that everything is aligned and feasible. At this point in the process teamwork should be emphasised and the plan should be made as transparent as possible. Meetings should be organised and everybody should understand how they fit in with the process.
It's a complicated process and requires constant interdepartmental communication. There's an excellent chance that things won't go to plan so the process needs to be reassessed all the time, but these steps should act as a good foundation.