How To Plan Your Supply Chain Without a Rat’s Nest of Spreadsheets

(By Libby Evans)

We all know the drill. Monthly planning time is upon us and demand planners are crying and moaning as they click and download and copy and paste just to get all the pieces they need in one spot to effectively do their jobs. Inventory position, attainment numbers, standards, the forecast. All of these pieces needed for S&OP all come from separate data pulls and systems. The planners do their magic in a multitude of offline spreadsheets that either they created out of necessity or some pricey consultant created for them that no one truly understands (or trusts). After S&OP has concluded, all of those decisions and pieces of information have to make their way back up into the execution system via manual uploads. And of course, there’s no room for error in that process, right?

SAP’s Integrated Business Planning may be the answer. IBP consolidates data into one, cohesive data structure, making the data incredibly easy to access. Because it is cloud-based, running heuristics (think forecasting, supply planning, inventory optimization) is FAST, which allows for data changes on the fly, multiple runs in minutes, and what-if scenario planning.

Instead of gathering each piece of data and putting it into an external spreadsheet model, and then taking those to the S&OP meeting (below, left image), IBP becomes the platform for the S&OP process (below, right image). What you end up with is the same outputs, but a much more integrated, streamlined process.

LE blog 3Usability

SAP truly listened to the customer when they created S&OP for IBP. Because it is completely based in excel, anyone with even a tiny bit of excel background can hop right in and start using. You get the flexibility of excel with the stability and security of an enterprise back-end.  This means all of the formatting, formula, and charting capabilities excel users are familiar with are there. And because it’s cloud-based, there is minimal capital investment.

Users are also no longer limited by existing reports. The user can query the data needed as long as the data integration is there on the back-end. Planners can get instant access to the data and it alleviates strain on the IT department. Talk about game-changing!

Data Integrity

Along with being super easy to use, IBP also results in one version of the truth, that is accessible to everyone who needs access. It’s also an up-to-date version of the truth, so no more making decisions on last week’s information. IBP queries pull directly into excel, so no more copying and pasting into different spreadsheets, resulting in potential data offset errors.

IBP also incorporates the financial analysis right alongside quantities. Want to see how a 10% forecast increase changes the bottom line? Make the changes to the forecast, run the algorithm, and view the financial impacts in minutes.

The usability paired with the data integrity eliminates the majority of the non-value add data manipulation, giving your demand planners time to do real, impactful what-if analysis.

Ready to see how this plays out?  Get in touch with us.  We’d love to chat.  Or check out the other blogs in this series.

Part 1: 9 Ways to Make the Most of Your Least with IBP’s Response & Supply.

Part 2: IBP Demand Sensing: How Can I Make My Forecasting Team Less Wrong?

Part 4: 3 Ways to Release Your Cash With IBP Inventory Optimization.

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