Successfully Selecting the Best S&OP Software
The disruptive impact of COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of having integrated sales and operational planning (S&OP) software for managing both complex and simple supply chains. Proper S&OP enables supply chain planners to focus on crucial supply chain drivers. But traditional S&OP processes are slow and time-consuming.
Outdated processes are not suited to support the speed and complexity of modern business. Instead, organizations need S&OP solutions that keep up with rapid change. Listed below are some insights for choosing the best S&OP software solution for your organization.
What do you want to achieve with S&OP?
Before starting the hunt for an S&OP software solution, take time to determine why your organization needs S&OP software:
- How will it be used?
- Is there executive buy-in?
- Are other departments, such as sales, marketing, and manufacturing, onboard?
It is essential to have a clear S&OP process strategy that considers your current level of S&OP maturity before searching for the best S&OP software.
S&OP Software Options
Numerous vendors sell S&OP software. Typical S&OP software includes add-ons to existing ERP and separate packaging. Most follow the standard S&OP process of:
While this may sound simple, the devil is in the details. Accurate S&OP entails processing a lot of data. Processing large quantities of data take time. So, data is often out-of-date before the plan is even ready.
An alternative is S&OP software that uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics integrated with back-end systems to incorporate data in real-time. Vanguard Predictive Planning™ allows users to collaborate in real-time, with greater accuracy and supports more efficient decision-making.
Benefits of What-If Capabilities
A major benefit to S&OP software is the ability to ask what-if questions. Such as:
- What if I introduce a new product?
- What if margins are reduced to increase sales?
Through traditional planning, answers to these and other questions were obscure and inaccurate.
With advanced analytics powering S&OP software, it is possible to analyze a mass number of scenarios simultaneously, and collaboratively determine the best course of action.
Having an established S&OP process is key, especially during unprecedented times such as these. When tensions are running high, personal agendas, biases, and time pressure can skew the judgment of a single person’s or a team’s decision-making. To deal with the disruptions that arise, you also need to get a wide variety of stakeholders involved in the S&OP process. Bringing in members from marketing can create opportunities to introduce demand-shaping activities to deal with excess inventory. Involving product development can help planners decide whether to launch new products that could support customers in a pandemic and also gauge the impact of that demand.
The secret is using S&OP software to model your organization digitally. This is also known as creating a digital twin. Using data together with accurate forecasts, you are then able to cross-examine the model and determine the optimal S&OP for your business.
Speeding up the S&OP Cycle
All of this may seem like it will take a lot of time to collect sales data and prepare supply and demand plans, but that is far from the truth.
Because the digital model accurately reflects the business, it is easier to enter sales forecasts, determine demand, and prepare sales plans using real data. There is also no need to repeat the cycle if sales revise forecasts. Simply apply the new figures and let the model revise the demand and sales plan.
Talk to the Experts
While comparative websites are a fantastic way to start your search for the best S&OP software, you will never truly know what a vendor can offer until you take the time to talk to them.
Vanguard Predictive Planning is a state-of-the-art, market-leading, natively cloud platform that enables our clients to achieve breakaway performance through collaborative planning. Whether an organization is planning within one line of business, like the supply chain, or connecting plans across all lines of business with true Integrated Business Planning, Vanguard Predictive Planning is the most scalable, flexible, and user-friendly option on the market.
Reach out for a software demo today to see how Vanguard Software can improve your S&OP process.