Network-Enabled Sales & Operations Execution

Guest blog from MHI Exhibitor Infor

Many organizations have invested in detailed Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP), but still experience out of stocks, over stocks or expedites issues. Instead of wondering why you’re chasing short-term execution issues when long-term planning is firing on all cylinders, the answer may be adopting enterprise-centric view of Sales and Operations Execution (S&OE).

To begin, it’s important to define how S&OE fits within the context of your planning process hierarchy, as it tends to focus on the short-term, less than 3-month horizon in daily or weekly buckets. In contrast, S&OP focuses in the longer, 3-to-36-month horizon in monthly or quarterly buckets.

Improving your S&OE process provides a structured, exception management process to address demand and supply imbalances at the right level of the organization and within the capabilities of the supply network. Robust S&OE can increase agility and velocity by minimizing the impacts from both supply and demand volatility. When done well, it can even reduce reliance on safety stock or inventory buffers, improving cash flow.

Enterprise-centric processes supporting weekly or manual updates from trading partners (customers, suppliers or carriers) and enterprise sites (manufacturing operations, distribution centers, retail outlets) may support the monthly S&OP planning cycle and decision making but can cause serious issues and complexities within the short term, execution horizon. By leveraging network thinking, using modern, multi-enterprise business networks or MEBNs, you can make decisions smarter, faster and more effectively. These provide efficient and scalable real-time connectivity, collaboration, and visibility to your entire supply chain ecosystem.

Other ways MEBNs support S&OE are:

1. Access to real-time data for an efficient and scalable exchange of data and latency reduction

Typical enterprises rely on a host of systems to run their supply chains: planning, ERP, PLM, TMS, and WMS, which perpetuate information and process silos, a require connections using EDI, portals, spreadsheets, and emails. This disconnected, point-to-point approach is highly inefficient and creates lag in data sharing and inaccurate information, which results in negative impacts to service levels, inventory levels and landed costs. MEBNs support the move from highly inefficient point-to-point connections to highly connected and efficient digital supply networks.

2. Creation of a single-source of truth between parties and functions

You can’t function on spreadsheets and expect to get the benefit of insights from big data, machine learning and IoT that are needed to run your supply chain smarter and better. Effective and customer-centered S&OE requires that all parties, internally and externally, are working on the same data and truth.

3. End-to-end visibility for actionable insights

Meaningful visibility via real-time connectivity enables you to identify issues and opportunities based on transactional details. This is the digital foundation of visibility – the ability to see status or events, as supply moves through the various stages, legs, modes and hand-offs. When combined with intelligence, this allows for real-time, predictive ETAs, critical to core S&OE processes. When you know where supply is now, you can estimate when it will arrive and how to best leverage it.

4. Enhanced collaboration to eliminate inefficient off platform and disconnected interactions

With 80% of supply chain processes and data occurring outside of any single enterprise, MEBNs provide a platform that allows exceptions to be reviewed and resolved through multi-tier collaboration. All parties can provide input or feedback, which is captured for future reference and leverage.

5. Intelligence: Enable multi-party optimization, orchestration and distributed intelligence

Most agree it’s time to shift to automated processes and decisioning, so execution teams can become proactive instead of reactive. S&OE, powered by an intelligent MEBN, creates real-time alerts from predefined exceptions occur, such as a late delivery a stock outage, or a significant surplus. If actual orders and forecasted demand outpace predicted, available supply, users are notified to resolve. Additionally, by leveraging AI/ML within their ecosystem, MEBNs often provide improved delivery estimates or ETA versus static lead-times or milestones.

Effective Sales & Operations Execution through an intelligent multi-enterprise business network creates positive impacts across the enterprise. Customers are happier, service levels are improved, and all connected parties are elated to share a single source of truth Product velocity is improved because end-to-end processes are accelerated and automated, eliminating needless delays due to reviewing emails, looking in ancillary systems or performing off-platform work. When MEBNs provide a network view of inventory and can proactively, in real-time, provide visibility to supply/demand misalignment, assurance of supply is improved. Finally, supply chain executives are pleased that inventory buffers are decreased, improving working capital. The whole supply chain is aligned and working in unison.

Continuing to invest in enterprise-centric systems to support S&OP tactical, execution-oriented improvements will continue to provide sub-optimal results. S&OE, powered by intelligent MEBNs operating AI/ML to identify and resolve predicted issues before they manifest, is the vision that all supply chains should be pursuing to gain competitive advantage.

To learn more about S&OE, join Infor’s webinar Sales & Operations Execution (S&OE): Leveraging your network to weather disruption on May 28.