When Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) was first being used, we saw it as better way to accomplish two highly important things:
- balance demand and supply, and keep them balanced over time as demand and other factors shift
- integrate operational plans with financial plans, enabling the business to be run internally with one set of numbers
These are no small accomplishments, but solutions to nagging problems afflicting companies forever. The early users—those who did S&OP successfully—were equally enthused. And so the word started to spread: Here’s a process that has a great deal of power, requires relatively few people, does not require new software and can be implemented quickly.
Over the years, other positive things started to happen in companies doing S&OP well. They found that they could build new capabilities into their S&OP processes, beyond the basic ones of the demand/supply balance and the integration of operational and financial planning.
These new developments did not go unreported. One would hear about them in conferences, read about them in magazines and emails. Unfortunately there was no common repository for this information, no one place where people could look to see the good things taking place. S&OP was becoming more and more powerful, better able to support companies in meeting their specific problems and opportunities, but this information wasn’t as available as it should have been.
This led me to write a book, Sales & Operations Planning: Beyond the Basics. It is intended to present advanced practices, in use today, that build upon the basic S&OP processes of demand/supply balance and operational/financial integration. It contains case studies of ten companies, including Applied Materials, Cisco Systems, Dow Chemical, Newell Rubbermaid, Staples and others. In writing this book, I learned a great deal. I’d like to share some of it with you.
I’ll focus on three of the ten companies featured in the book. Here’s the first one.