Executive Briefings

Driving Business Value Through S&OP and IBP

Analyst Insight: Economic challenges have kept sales and operations planning at the forefront of the supply chain executive's mind. Research has successfully identified the financial benefits that S&OP and integrated business planning (IBP) bring to the table: for example, the Aberdeen Group points to best-in-class companies and the two- to six-times benefits they gained in several key metrics, especially gross margin, in comparison with other companies that did not employ S&OP. Nari Viswanathan, vice president, solutions architecture, Steelwedge Software

There are seven key strategies for successful S&OP-IBP:

Engaging sales and marketing: The progression of supply chain models of build to stock, configure to order and engineer to order reveals that they are more opportunity focused. So why not use CRM systems for this? They are unsuitable as they don't have forecasting capabilities. What's needed is an IBP solution that understands opportunities and the conversion process to build forecasts. For successful integrated business planning, engagement from sales teams is critical.


Linking financial and operational plans: Financial integration with S&OP is often termed as IBP in the industry. This definition is most often provided solely as a way to sell software. Financial considerations in S&OP should not be done as an afterthought, but as a separate step. Financial parameters should be present throughout the process.

Cross-functional and multi-enterprise collaboration: IBP is not only about north-to-south integration of financials to operations but about left-to-right integration of functional groups and trading partners. Cross-functional groups are sales, marketing, finance, supply chain, logistics, services, procurement, product management, etc. Multi-enterprise trading partners are customers, suppliers, 3PLs, supply chain finance providers, etc.

Continuously align strategy with operations: Strategy consulting firms often help the C-suite. However, these expensive initiatives are typically done in a vacuum, failing to leverage existing data and technology platforms. A better approach is to look at an IBP process where the strategic plan is also integrated with the operational plan. It's important to utilize an integrated business planning platform that can act as a sandbox for performing scenario management. The assumptions and business context associated with the scenarios can be captured and intelligent trade-offs can be made during the executive S&OP meeting.

Ensure process agility and flexibility through technology: ERP and APS solution providers have always lacked purposefully built S&OP platforms. They have patched together a group of disparate software solutions - demand planning, supply planning, BI, etc., for enabling the S&OP process. These solutions are akin to cement: once the software has been implemented, it is extremely difficult to change the configuration. A flexible platform and hybrid deployment approach provides the unique ability to introduce process and technology in parallel.

Capture metrics for performance management: The proliferating business intelligence solutions are great for reporting but not for enforcing processes. Given that the key sensor for measuring process efficiency is the metric, it needs to be captured at the point of the process. The solution must be able to support a standard library of metrics and have the flexibility to create new ones. The end user should be able to create, modify and manage metrics.

Optimized Demand-Supply-Finance balancing: Companies should adopt a crawl-walk-run approach towards optimization. Proceeding with an optimization project without setting up the basic process and workflows will inevitably result in failure.  Instead of focusing on the most complex integration architecture that spans multiple advanced planning and scheduling solutions, companies should look for an integrated platform with an ability to perform tradeoffs across supply, demand and finance.

                                         The Outlook

When creating an RFI or an RFP for selecting IBP solutions, consider this: Does the solution

• perform holistic consideration of supply, demand and finance?

• support master data management and provide integration architecture?

• provide the ability to create flexible and sustainable business processes?

• support quick time to deployment?

• support multi-enterprise collaboration?

• provide embedded reporting and analytics?

• provide clear visibility to ownership, accountability and traceability?


Keywords: Sales & Operations Planning, Technology, Business Strategy Alignment, Supply Chain Analysis & Consulting, Global Supply Chain Management, Cross-Functional Collaboration, Multi-Enterprise Collaboration, Demand-Supply-Finance Balancing, Demand Planning, Supply Planning

There are seven key strategies for successful S&OP-IBP:

Engaging sales and marketing: The progression of supply chain models of build to stock, configure to order and engineer to order reveals that they are more opportunity focused. So why not use CRM systems for this? They are unsuitable as they don't have forecasting capabilities. What's needed is an IBP solution that understands opportunities and the conversion process to build forecasts. For successful integrated business planning, engagement from sales teams is critical.


Linking financial and operational plans: Financial integration with S&OP is often termed as IBP in the industry. This definition is most often provided solely as a way to sell software. Financial considerations in S&OP should not be done as an afterthought, but as a separate step. Financial parameters should be present throughout the process.

Cross-functional and multi-enterprise collaboration: IBP is not only about north-to-south integration of financials to operations but about left-to-right integration of functional groups and trading partners. Cross-functional groups are sales, marketing, finance, supply chain, logistics, services, procurement, product management, etc. Multi-enterprise trading partners are customers, suppliers, 3PLs, supply chain finance providers, etc.

Continuously align strategy with operations: Strategy consulting firms often help the C-suite. However, these expensive initiatives are typically done in a vacuum, failing to leverage existing data and technology platforms. A better approach is to look at an IBP process where the strategic plan is also integrated with the operational plan. It's important to utilize an integrated business planning platform that can act as a sandbox for performing scenario management. The assumptions and business context associated with the scenarios can be captured and intelligent trade-offs can be made during the executive S&OP meeting.

Ensure process agility and flexibility through technology: ERP and APS solution providers have always lacked purposefully built S&OP platforms. They have patched together a group of disparate software solutions - demand planning, supply planning, BI, etc., for enabling the S&OP process. These solutions are akin to cement: once the software has been implemented, it is extremely difficult to change the configuration. A flexible platform and hybrid deployment approach provides the unique ability to introduce process and technology in parallel.

Capture metrics for performance management: The proliferating business intelligence solutions are great for reporting but not for enforcing processes. Given that the key sensor for measuring process efficiency is the metric, it needs to be captured at the point of the process. The solution must be able to support a standard library of metrics and have the flexibility to create new ones. The end user should be able to create, modify and manage metrics.

Optimized Demand-Supply-Finance balancing: Companies should adopt a crawl-walk-run approach towards optimization. Proceeding with an optimization project without setting up the basic process and workflows will inevitably result in failure.  Instead of focusing on the most complex integration architecture that spans multiple advanced planning and scheduling solutions, companies should look for an integrated platform with an ability to perform tradeoffs across supply, demand and finance.

                                         The Outlook

When creating an RFI or an RFP for selecting IBP solutions, consider this: Does the solution

• perform holistic consideration of supply, demand and finance?

• support master data management and provide integration architecture?

• provide the ability to create flexible and sustainable business processes?

• support quick time to deployment?

• support multi-enterprise collaboration?

• provide embedded reporting and analytics?

• provide clear visibility to ownership, accountability and traceability?


Keywords: Sales & Operations Planning, Technology, Business Strategy Alignment, Supply Chain Analysis & Consulting, Global Supply Chain Management, Cross-Functional Collaboration, Multi-Enterprise Collaboration, Demand-Supply-Finance Balancing, Demand Planning, Supply Planning