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Social Collaboration Brings Innovation to “Sales & Operation Planning”

The main responsibilities of Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) leaders are: establishing priorities, planning and executing supply chain strategies, driving improvements and quickly adapting to market changes and customer demands, and always thinking about financial results. But all of that is within the average activity of the day to day, also the development of changes in advance is expected to solve the limitations of the S&OP.

What is the most fundamental challenge? For most S&OP professionals, the basic answer is to keep all stakeholders aligned. But normally the technology in use does not have the proper framework for everyone to be synchronized. The greater pressure to include new internal and external participants can alter this process. When there are more participants, there is a greater amount of data that must be managed. The technology that supports these processes will optimize access to the right data, in the right place at the right time so that S&OP efforts are fluid and give the right results, which opens new doors for innovation.

The key to S&OP innovation

What is the key to S&OP innovation? Collaboration.

It must be systematized, horizontally and vertically, internally and externally, to include all the conversations and communications involved in S&OP. There must be a way to capture, follow and audit the path of each communication from conversations, and meetings to emails and social networks all in one system or resource that is widely used throughout the organization. It can be said that S&OP has traditionally focused on numbers, and that the process and the collaboration component have not aroused so much attention. But now, beyond the numbers, the combination of different views is the key to success.

The success of a contemporary S&OP strategy depends on good communication. This is because S&OP integrates different elements of demand (promotions, sales, forecasts, etc.), financial objectives (budgets, cash flow, etc.), supply (production and programming of origin), survey of the life cycle of the product and planning of inventory, and logistical requirements. To execute a successful S&OP strategy, there must be complex and fluid conversations between internal and external parties between multiple, sometimes conflicting, departments that encompass strategy, execution, problem and potential, management and marketing, supply and demand, vendors to CEO whatever the role and location.

The possibility of corporate social networks

How can an organization overcome these challenges? There is an innovative way that offers unparalleled advantages that are difficult to achieve in any other way. We talk about corporate social networks.

What is a business social network? In the same way that social tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, these social resources drive connections and communications in different geographies, time and subjects. It allows users to optimize data collection and discover and focus on the same interests, work together on projects, urgent issues, communicate immediately or on a regular basis, and have a way to track conversations over days, weeks and years.

Employees love social tools because they are familiar. But most organizations have no way to implement a good social network so that the company can benefit from the S&OP.

Through the use of a social collaboration platform you can effectively achieve these goals for S&OP by creating a much wider line of communication within the entire company. Social collaboration for the S&OP process allows to offer a line of communication to review alerts, tasks, workflows and exceptions. In the same way that you follow a person or company on Facebook or Twitter, you can follow a sales order, promotion, some customer, brand, work in production, place or event.

S&OP in practice

The following example will show you the practical application of social S&OP to achieve more efficient communication within the company.

An account manager receives a call from a major customer about an unusually large order. The account manager updates the demand module of the S&OP system to enter this atypical order in the sales forecast, and simultaneously posts a message saying that the order is real to avoid misunderstandings. The posting is visible to all who follow the client in question, and also triggers event alerts based on the exception rules of the S&OP system. This posting may also contain attachments, such as graphic images of the demand analysis screen showing the impact of the new order.

The sales director who follows the client sees the message posted and also the alert warning of this atypical demand. The director comments on the good news and sends it to the production manager who can approve the updated demand plan. The production manager sees the message posted by the sales director and evaluates the plan, verifies inventory and production levels. Once it guarantees that the plan will incorporate this additional demand, revises and publishes the new supply plan, it triggers a stock alert to require the levels of the product that the customer will buy.

One of the participants in this plan is the warehouse manager, who also receives the stock alert according to the inventory levels required for this product. He can see the product in question, and verify that he has inventory ready for this order.

Once you verify that the stock is available, add a message confirming that the inventory is ready for the customer’s order, with a label to receive an alert when the customer’s order arrives. The order and alert arrive and the warehouse manager updates the status warning that the order has already been sent to the customer. To close the circle, the account manager sees that the order has been completed and posts a thank you message to everyone in the circuit.

Through the social S&OP, the different departments were able to solve a critical issue, in a matter of minutes, instead of spending hours with calls, conversations, meetings, emails and other unstructured communications.

But there is also another advantage of the social S&OP. All actions and interactions are transparent for all users and are recorded in the original purchase order, allowing a clear follow-up. Something that was previously impossible or a tedious task, is solved quickly and efficiently through a platform of social collaboration.

It is clear that the social business will quickly be the way to unite people and processes within a successful S&OP strategy. If we consider the principle of social S&OP, beyond the four walls of an organization, it can provide a quick mechanism for communication with external suppliers, guaranteeing a platform of integral collaboration through the supply chain.

Author: Cerca Technology