D&M Holdings, a collection of disparate electronics companies with different ERP and S&OP processes, needed a global approach to sales and operations planning, says Lalit Panda, the company's chief information officer.
From the point of view of the investor, D&M Holdings is a portfolio of top-notch consumer, professional and automotive audio and video companies such as Denon, Marantz and McIntosh. But from the perspective of the supply chain professional, it's a collection of totally disparate ERP systems.
That entails a great deal of disconnected processes around sales and operations planning, Panda says. Or, at least, it used to. "We saw a challenge in exacting a global S&OP process without a single source of data and a single version of truth," he says. "That's truly a challenge. What we wanted to do was to integrate everything into a single system that everybody could access for evaluating supply chain trade-offs ... and to be able to make assessments and decisions very quickly."
Obviously, D&M Holdings works in a highly competitive space, and it is vitally important to be able to respond quickly to market demands. As Panda describes it, the company is on a journey now to arrive at the necessary degree of responsiveness. It's first step was to explore the needs of the "front" end, the demand side. "We wanted to get the demand right before we started executing on the supply planning piece."
D&M has now integrated all demand data into the Kinaxis RapidResponse solution, and has been through several cycles already. But the journey to supply chain and operations planning maturity is far from finished, in his estimation.
"We expect over the next two or three years to be a really responsive organization driven by customer-service metrics and KPIs and be able to assess our choices based on real hard data that is up to date and coming right from the customers and the places where we see the demand variability."
There are three priorities any company needs to establish if it is to evolve its S&OP process, Panda says: consistency of process across the geographies and business units of the company, a focus on key metrics, and tying the front and back ends of the enterprise together. Without achieving these necessary steps, he says, the different units of an organization will continue to speak different languages.
When Panda started the unification process, he says, it was essential to select a cross-functional process that involved all the "stakeholders" in the company, such as budgeting. Finance, accounting, manufacturing, sales and others all needed to see the same set of data and numbers during the budgeting process. It is key to ensure that everyone realizes how the data can be leveraged by units and departments across the company.
The value of the RapidResponse control tower concept lies in its ability to take the data and make simulations. "It sits on top of the ERP and it aggregates all the information and allows people to model situations. And since we have one integrated source for all S&OP information, we also build on top of that an optimization engine that we link into RapidResponse. So we have a global ecosystem of supply planning and demand planing that revolves around an execution system."
Ultimately, how important is the ability to model certain scenarios? How quickly does one need to react to changes in plan? "You can't overemphasize the importance," says Panda. "Consumer electronics have short product lifecycles, there's a lot of variability in demand, and supply lead times often are long. So to be responsive and quick to see changes and be able to go back in the supply chain and assess if you have the capability to deliver - this is critical."
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