Most, if not all, Global, Fortune 500 and mid-size companies have some supply chain planning solution or the other to enable their processes for forecasting, inventory planning, distribution, production, contract manufacturing etc. Some will deny while others will grudgingly or willingly acknowledge that spreadsheets are still, at least partly, the omnipresent "planing & execution" tool !
Past decade has thrown up incredible innovation in database technology, analytics, cloud computing, hyper-connectivity, collaboration tools, IoT, enabling BOTs & APPs etc that can have a significant impact on your overall Sale & Operations Planning (S&OP) process and solution. Enabled correctly, these innovations can create or enhance a strategic advantage in core competencies for you within your industry vertical. Greater visibility, velocity (agility) and reduced variability in supply chain can then be achieved resulting in reduced operating costs, higher profit margins, enhanced customer service levels, reduced disruptions / bullwhip effect etc. On the other hand, failure to exploit these innovations can mean competitive advantage for your rivals.
Not every supply chain & operations executive has the bandwidth to keep up with all the innovation, let alone comprehend its implications for
- the future evolution of supply chain ecology, as a whole and
- her or his corporate supply chain road-map, in particular.
Due to greater awareness and demand for Integrated Business Planning solutions, there is a lot of marketing content being developed and broadcast. However, not enough of this content enables executives to sift through fads and hype to extract actionable intelligence and make rational decisions for their future plans. This series of crisp and concise articles will attempt to broadly fill this gap.Key questions that one needs to ask and get answered are the following:
- To what extent has the supply chain ecology of my organization evolved? This requires a realistic assessment of the historical and current maturity level of the 5 Ps of Sales & Operations Planning: People (expertise), Processes, Platforms (technology), Policies / Practices and Performance metrics (KPIs).
- What are the key innovations of the recent past and the near future? These will help you evaluate the new tool-sets available to enhance the effectiveness of your supply chain planning & execution process. These innovations will also help you understand future competitive challenges you will face if you do not exploit them to the fullest.
- How have the supply chain planning and execution solutions of my "platform vendor(s)", e.g., SAP, Oracle etc. evolved? This will enable you to understand if the platform vendor is keeping up with changes in the market and technology and if an integrated (single vendor) platform or best-of-breed path is appropriate to meet future challenges.
- What are our strategic goals and what are the critical issues we must deal with to defend, maintain and enhance our competitiveness? This will require extensive SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to determine focus areas & prioritize key challenges to be tackled in an optimal sequence.
- What do all the above factors mean to me? This will enable you to transform, re-engineer and fine-tune your overall supply chain strategy and road-map. This, in turn, will enhance the effectiveness and maturity level of the overall Integrated Business Planning functions in your organization and translate in to desired results.
Even the sequence of answering these questions is important since, for example, one cannot perform a realistic SWOT analysis and develop a strategy without first comprehending the implications of market changes and technological evolution on the effectiveness of your business functions.
Given extensive experience of myself and My Supply Chain Group (MSCG) with SAP solutions over the past 2 decades, I may refer to SAP Supply Chain solutions while addressing the above topics. However the ideas and recommendations will be general in nature and relevant for all supply chain executives & stake holders.
Dr. Dan Bhide is a Co-Founder & Partner at My Supply Chain Group (MSCG) with 25 years of corporate & consulting experience. We are a tried, tested & trusted adviser of more than fifty Global, Fortune 500 and Mid-size corporations. MSCG enables business transformation through supply chain strategy, process re-engineering and implementation of SAP Solutions (including SAP APO, IBP, EWM, SNC, SPP and ECC). We enhance our clients' competitive edge by delivering excellence in supply chain planing & execution. For more information, Dr. Dan can be reached at DBhide@mySupplyChainGroup.com.