Face Off: IBP S&OP v. APO Demand Planning, Part II

Earlier this week, in Part I of this two part blog (click to read Part I), we discussed the differences between the undisputed champion of demand planning: APO Demand Planning, and the scrappy newcomer on the scene: IBP Sales & Operations Planning. Specifically, we contrasted these to bruisers with respect to Forecasting, Disaggregation, and the Data Model. Today we continue the comparison and finally see if there is a knockout, a TKO, or simply a draw between these two contenders.

Round 4: User Experience:

IBP: For many years, it has been my personal goal to eradicate the existence of MS Excel from the planning world. (Ok, not really… I recognize that there were some things that were plain easier in Excel than SAP…) This is because MS Excel represented a tool that simply had no integration with any of the other tools. The minute you extracted data from SAP to feed the spreadsheet was the minute that the data became stale. Not so with IBP; if the HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) layer is set up correctly, it is possible to see real time data extraction and manipulation using MS Excel as the user interface. The users will be more comfortable with the tool and it should be easier to support, debug, and implement.

DP: The user interface in APO DP is probably one of the best user experiences that SAP has to offer. The problem is that it has a fairly steep learning curve for a new user. It also requires a fair amount of system configuration in order to be well laid out and complimentary to the process.

Winner RibbonIBP wins this category, again hands down, by being able to provide a user interface that almost all users are already using, are familiar with, and know how to support.



Speed Movie PictureNoooo…not that speed; that speed was horrible!

IBP: You didn’t need to be clairvoyant to see this comparison coming. The HANA backbone that supports HANA is just plain fast. Imagine sitting in your monthly S&OP meeting and the VP of Sales asks (after the entire presentation of this month’s S&OP plan…), “What happens to our bottom line if our new product line really does sell like hotcakes and we get a 15% bump in sales?” With IBP, you’re able to answer that question in a matter of minutes (before the meeting is over). This applies not only to bottom line financials, but also as to the capacity, raw materials, labor, etc. (The downside of this is that you may not have a good excuse for that coffee/cigarette break anymore.)

DP: I have configured APO DP since version 1.1 and while APO DP was better than anything else we had at the time (I just got a flexible planning flashback, shudder), I would never have called it “fast.” Especially when the dataset gets to be fairly large, DP starts to require a fair amount of hardware in order to keep it peppy and there are situations where not even that is enough.

Winner RibbonIBP wins this category again hands down because it is Just. That. Fast.



After working with this IBP S&OP for a few months, my customer recommendations would look as follows:

If you already own APO Demand Planning:

If you already own APO DP and it is delivering quality forecasts to your supply chain, then there is no need to spend the capital on IBP S&OP as it will deliver no additional functionality in this area.


If your S&OP process could benefit from being able to quickly get a read on how changes in forecast, pricing, costs, and capacity can affect your business (and really, who isn’t in this category…), then I would suggest that you take a hard look at IBP S&OP.

If you DO NOT already own APO Demand Planning:

If you do not have APO DP and your forecasting needs are fairly simplistic, I would also suggest that IBP S&OP might be a really good fit for you. The forecasting it provides is adequate enough for most. It will also be bolstered by the ability to quickly determine business outcomes. Also, IBP should be a bit easier to implement and support in the long run.

If your forecasting needs are more complex (causal forecasting, sporadic demand algorithms, etc.) then APO DP is a tool you should consider as well as considering IBP S&OP for all the reasons listed above. Implementation options here can be somewhat flexible, depending on your budget and requirements. You could install DP first then IBP, install IBP first then DP, or install both at the same time.

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