Sales and operations planning (S&OP) is all about looking to the future. As we head into a new year, it’s only appropriate to set our sights on what’s to come — in life and in business. Here is a brief look into a few of the best S&OP practices to consider implementing in 2022.
The past few years have been a rollercoaster for many businesses. Reflecting on all that has changed is important as companies begin the critical management process of S&OP. From continuing the integration of contemporary work-from-home policies to keeping health at the forefront of operations planning, such factors add to the usual projection demands making the process more complex.
Health concerns are not the only new factors in play. Innovative technologies have made leaps and bounds in terms of advancing data collection and analysis. These AI (artificial intelligence) and automation developments are already impacting — and improving — S&OP practices and offer numerous opportunities. Investing in progressive platforms and software is rapidly becoming essential in the realm of S&OP. Not only to expand cross-organizational coordination but in achieving profitability and staying ahead of the competition.
Another advantage to investing in sophisticated software is to enhance forecasting capabilities. Necessary for understanding changing consumption patterns and gauging financial impact, a key part of S&OP is to anticipate demand and align supply to maximize fulfillment and minimize cost to serve. With AI and machine learning systems, the proficiencies to successfully predict market fluctuations and variations are yours to utilize. This optimization works to create a more comprehensive plan when identifying company goals and the required resources to accomplish them.
Having cutting-edge tech at your disposal can do wonders but can go wasted without proper communication practices. S&OP is best when management and executive teams work together to ensure department functions and goals are aligned. Such cross-functionality cohesion requires transparency, balance, and data-driven leadership.
Start the new year right by establishing a strong leader. Elect someone who can champion your S&OP collaboration and take it to the next level. Be sure to effectively communicate any course corrections, new objectives, quality information, and to engage with team members through a dynamic feedback loop. Engagement on all levels can get the entire organization moving in the same direction, which is the main purpose of S&OP.
Whether your organization conducts S&OP planning monthly, quarterly, or yearly, the importance of getting it right by implementing the latest approaches cannot be understated. For further information on S&OP best practices, please see the accompanying resource.