Improving Business Performance with Technology

# Friday, April 16, 2010
Sales and Operations Planning with SyteLine

“Hey Nancy,” Wes said, as he raised his head from the twin monitors that dominated his desk, “did you see this order for 135 XLMs that we just received from Victor?  I’m getting tired of all the chaos these guys cause when they don't pay any attention to the supply plan we gave them in December. Often I think it’s a waste of time to try to plan anything around here. Those freakin’ sales guys will sell anything – who cares if we can’t deliver?  Sometimes I think we oughta change our name from Ukon Enterprises to U Can’t.”   Wes seemed to growl a little as he looked back to his machine with a complete sense of frustration and ultimately defeat, as he knew he didn't have any choice but to start trying to work this latest fiasco into the production schedule.

Nancy had always hated the way Wes reacted when a major order disrupted the factory.  She knew, he knew, everyone knew that the orders were good and the company had always worked hard to deliver. But there was a cost to the overtime and expediting and reshuffling of priorities. There was also the underlying resentment that Sales and Operations did not really work together.  “Ah c’mon Wes, I know it’s going to be tough to fit it in the schedule, but you know that’s what we have to do.”

Carol had been listening to their conversation while she tried to stay focused on the news that a large batch of dipoles had been rejected during final inspection, but this looked like a pretty good time to jump in. “Nancy, Wes.  Do you guys have a minute?” she asked.  “I’ve been thinking about what I heard last week up in Phoenix, and I really want to talk to you about this pitch I heard from the BTA guys about their new S&OP package.”

 Wes’s tone of voice left nothing to the imagination when he said, “Look Carol, no offense or anything, but this isn’t a software problem, and the last thing I need right now is some consultant snooping around talking about how awesome we are gonna be if we just start paying him a ton of bucks to hold meetings and put us to sleep with a bunch of power point presentations.” 

“It’s not like that at all, Wes”, Carol said. “The BTA guys admit they didn't invent the S&OP process – they were just showing us some new ERP tools we could use to run our own S&OP sessions.”  “Like what kind of tools?” Nancy asked, trying to keep Wes engaged. 

“I’ll give you fifteen minutes, Carol”, Wes said.  I could use a break. Nancy, will you come with us, and grab Paul if you can get him too?  “OK,” Carol said.  “Steve...he’s the BTA guy that did most of the talking. Anyway, this guy Steve said that everybody was trying to answer the same five questions in their S&OP process.”  “Hold on Carol,” Paul said as he and Nancy walked in the conference room and sat down, “can you give us a short definition of what you mean by S&OP?”

 “Sure Paul.  Steve, the BTA guy, said that S&OP was ‘management’s handle on the business’.  He said it was the formal process where each of the company disciplines get together on a regular basis for the sole purpose of balancing the supply and demand with the obvious goal of increased throughput and optimized profit.  Steve rattled off a list of about 100 reasons why this would be a good thing, but I don't have to tell you how awesome this’d be. Right, Wes?” 

“I think the only problem with that is that there is no way I have time to prepare for another monthly meeting where we all sit around and talk about the same problems and nothing ever...,” Wes started to say.   “Come on Wes – lighten up,” Paul interrupted. “Let’s hear her out.  Go on, Carol.”

“Ok – so what everybody wants to know is:

·         What did we say we were going to do last month (last month’s S&OP output) and

·         How did we do?  (a quick analysis of the differences)

·         What are we going to do in the immediate and near term (Current Month Forecast) and

·         How is this different from what we said last month? (Manage the differences)

·         And finally, how are we doing relative to the annual operating plan (or Budget)?” 

“Exactly,” said Wes with a sigh of exasperation. “But the problem is that data takes days to pull out of the ERP and by then we are buried right in the middle of a brand new set of old problems.  Everybody knows we want this info, and we already tried it. The problem is getting all the spreadsheets together and getting everyone to agree on what the numbers mean, and Carol, you know all this, you’ve helped me present this kind of data to sales before.”

“Exactly, Wes,” Carol smiled.  But you should see the tools the BTA guys showed us.  No custom programming, no fancy report writers, just clear Syteline forms and reports that present this data in fit for use format. Wes, it’s our data, it’s our results, all we have to do is open the forms AND show up for the sessions.  By the way, that’s what Steve said would be the biggest hurdle. He kept saying we have to get involved.  We have to load the plan.  We have to get together to review last month. We have to ask the hard questions: What could we have done better? How can we avoid these problems in the future?” We need to get synchronized with sales and try to balance the supply and demand.”

Paul interrupted again to ask, “What kind of forms and tools was this BTA guy talking about?” Carol opened her folder. “This first one is called the AOP (Annual Operating Plan) – it looks like it’s a summary of the sales plan for the whole year. Yeah, and it looks like I can see it in unit detail or summarized by product code and maybe some other ways.”  Carol passed a few of the forms out, and Wes said, “this is pretty cool – this one is labeled Previous Month Analysis. I can see the forecast and actual sales for last month, the forecast and actual supply for last month, and these two columns look like they help me understand where I was over and under – this looks interesting.”

Paul jumped in, “this is clean. On one page I can see the difference between what Sales forecast for this month vs. what they forecast last month. Highlighting these differences will really help us figure out where we need to respond with the supply.” 

“Time’s about up Carol, this is good stuff but I want to get back on that new XLM order. But before I leave do you remember them talking about any kind of demand planning tools?  I am pretty sure you are going to need some forecasting tools if you want to integrate S&OP in your Syteline system.” 

“Absolutely” replied Carol.  “BTA offers a Forecasting system for Syteline that has been part of the family of products for more than a decade.  I remember Steve saying SyteLine forecasting had a huge client base and it is built right into SyteLine and it calculates the forecasts that feed the S&OP system.”  

“It sounds to me like we should take a deeper look then, Carol,” said Wes.  “I think we have to call these BTA guys, get them to demo some of this process, and see what we’re up against for a budget and a timeline.  Can you set this up?”  “Sure,” smiled Carol. Thanks for hearing me out. I think you are gonna be as excited as I am after we see what they have. We’re all looking for a way out of this mess, and this looks like a pretty promising next step…..”


Sound familiar?  What is preventing cooperation between supply and demand management? These two silos continue to grow. Huge pressures builds from both ends – the demands of shrinking customer loyalty, higher on-time delivery requirements, shorter overall lead times, and increased global competition force the demand planners to aggressively pursue the customer’s needs.  Pressures to lower costs, increase quality, reduce inventories, and provide a seemingly infinite product mix drive the supply chain manager to lust for a “real” schedule (Please, can I have just one week that is frozen?).

Sales and Operations Planning is one tool that can be used to bridge these silos of information and help companies succeed in an increasingly complex business environment.  So why hasn’t S&OP moved from an initiative to an institution at your company?  Perhaps the reason is the lack of an integrated tool set to quickly balance Supply and Demand and the lack of a formal, ongoing S&OP review.  Let’s pick up with our friends at Ukon Enterprises and see what is going on.

“Mike says we are having an S&OP meeting today,” said Nancy.  “He says we are going to start a formal process of balancing the demand and supply on a monthly basis.  We purchased a new Syteline module that will help facilitate the process and they brought a consultant in to help us get started.”

Nancy, Wes and Randy were surprised to see that each of the functional areas were represented in the meeting – finance, engineering, and Mike (their COO) were already at the conference room table with Victor the VP of sales.  The overweight, gray-haired guy was obviously the consultant, and as they were being seated he began the session with a few introductory comments.

“Hello everyone” said Fred, the BTA consultant. “Today is the first day of an intense, three day effort to jump start an S&OP process at your company. We are going to repeat this process on a monthly basis with the overall goal of increasing profitability, increasing on time delivery, increasing inventory and initial quality yields.  We will use four simple KPIs in this process:  a time series graph depicting profitability, OTD, Turns and Yield will be the eyes of our new process.  They will help us judge the effectiveness of our decisions and provide immediate feedback to this process. We will plot the first point on the charts today and each month hereafter.” 

Fred continued, “We did not invent the S&OP process, we are just providing the tools; we are just dictating the schedule.  You are going to have to do the work.  Sound familiar?”  Wes was furiously typing away on his smart phone, so Nancy gave him a whack. “Come on Wes,” she whispered. “You said we needed this just the other day. Put up the phone and pay attention.”

“So let’s agree to a definition of S&OP” Fred said as he drew the following chart.  “S&OP is the formal process of balancing supply and demand to optimize resources and maximize profits.  S&OP will be our handle on the business.  Here is an overview of the tools and the timing for our S&OP process.”

Day One – Better Demand Planning – Demand Planner



Previous Month Analysis

What happened last month from a supply and demand standpoint?

What did we say we were going to do, and what did we do?

Current Month Analysis

What did we say we were going to do this month and how is the month shaping up?  Highlight known demand and supply issues.

Current Month Demand Forecast

Rolling 12 month forecast.  Sees last month as an actual and is focused on the end of the year and the monthly detail. Typically unconstrained – Simply the best judgment of Sales and Marketing.

Variance to Last Forecast and Plan

Where has the forecast changed and why?

How will this new forecast stack up against our Frozen Annual Plan?


Day Three – Better Supply Planning - Production Planning Manager



Current Month Analysis

What did we say we were going to do this month and how is the month shaping up?  Highlight known demand and supply issues.

Current Month Supply Forecast

Three month back, three month ahead comparison of Demand, Supply and Plan illustrates projected supply constraints and excess finished goods production.  

Consensus Forecast (supply and demand)

3 month rolling – sales and operations agree to the demand forecast and the supply forecast. Any disagreement shows up as lost sales (no supply side) or excess finished goods (assumption: demand is too low)


Day Four – Better Balance - COO



Current Month Analysis

What did we say we were going to do this month and how is the month shaping up?  Highlight known demand and supply issues.

Revenue Forecast

3 month rolling – shows the minimum of the supply or demand for the next three months - uses actuals in prior periods, assumes forecast in future periods and to let us see our Year End Position.

Action Plan

EOL and NPI issues

Customer Stocking Programs

Specific issues requiring ongoing maintenance


I would like some feedback from the SyteLine community...  Does your company have a S&OP process?  If so, is it similar to the approach I follow?   If not, why... is it a goal or have you decided it is not worth the effort, or you just dont know how to manage it?

JD Goodrich, CPIM
BTA Senior Operations Consultant


Friday, April 16, 2010 5:56:48 PM (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)  #    Comments [0]  Sales & Operations Planning | SyteLine

Copyright ® 2010 BTA, All rights reserved.