Is sales and operations planning obsolete? Not at all, says Evan Quasney, vice president of solutions marketing with Anaplan. But there's a need for organizations to take a deeper approach to connected planning, to achieve competitive advantage.
Sales and operations planning remains a valuable tool after decades of application, but Quasney nevertheless believes we’re in the “post-S&OP” era. That’s because supply chains are under increasing pressure to respond more quickly to market changes, and planning windows are shrinking. In addition, the financial implications of decisions need to be taken into account. Companies need to know how their actions will impact supply chain performance in the coming week, month and quarter, Quasney says.
Companies today are taking more of a “scenario-drive” approach. Armed with more data than ever before, they’re able to run “what-if” simulations to determine the optimal decision in response to actual market conditions, such as sudden demand shifts or short-term shortages of product.
Such capability is more than a feature that’s “nice to have.” It can serve as a competitive differentiator for companies, at a time when margins are thin and speed in decision-making is crucial. Quasney says businesses are increasingly becoming aware of the link between supply chain decisions and finance — the connection to sales, procurement and the workforce. Today, he says, supply chain planning “is the lifeblood of an organization.”
To achieve that level of effectiveness in supply chain management, companies must break down internal barriers between functional silos, as well those that exist with external partners. The notion of “connected planning” becomes paramount. “It’s no longer just about transactional data and sending files,” Quasney says. “It’s about being able to share options with priority channels. That gives you more confidence in decisions about where to move goods around to be more productive.”
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