7 Challenges in Maintaining S&OP Business Processes and Tips on How to Overcome Them with Software Solutions
Supply chain operators are constantly looking for the most effective and efficient ways to deliver customer demands. Hence, many implement various sales and operations planning best practices into their process to drive up their competitive advantage. But just like any other aspect in business, there are challenges in maintaining quality S&OP business processes.
According to APQC, 3/4 of companies around the globe are planning to increase their investments in S&OP.
By integrating their marketing, sales, product demand management, and inventory management, they work to streamline their operations and provide visibility across the entire organization. Nonetheless, companies must continuously look forward to the future and see how their current processes can be improved to support long-term growth.
With that, here are some of the challenges in maintaining your S&OP process and tips on how to overcome them with software solutions.
1. Understanding the complexity of the process itself
At first glance, a S&OP process map might look complex and long. After all, this is an integration of processes relating to supply and demand management. It is only normal that many might find implementing such a strategy to be an intimidating and daunting task. Nonetheless, the best S&OP processes often favor simplicity over complexity.
The complexity of the process itself can become a challenge. For one, stakeholders might find it incomprehensible, resulting in confusion and poor compliance in the long run. To avoid this, you should keep your process flow charts simple and clean.
Try to avoid adding too many arrows and annotations at the side that can derail a straight-forward flow. You can use softwares like project management solutions, enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, and S&OP software to help you build integrated and collaborative flow charts for your processes. Likewise, you should also consider using artificial intelligent-powered software to help you smoothen out bottlenecks in your current processes.
2. Sourcing the right talent
Working in the supply chain requires very technical and analytical skills. This makes hiring the right talent a lot more challenging and meticulous compared to other areas of your organization. Hence, many organizations opt to outsource their supply chain functions through consultants with expertise in the area.
However, the key to an efficient and effective S&OP process requires consistency and familiarity with each supply chain operation. You will need to recruit your own supply chain operators if you want to encourage long-term supply chain growth.
The recruitment process can be rigorous and time-consuming. Nonetheless, you can drastically cut down on cost, time, and effort by utilizing software solutions for the task. You can use software solutions like applicant tracking system (ATS), HR software, and recruitment automations.
3. Maintaining visibility and transparency across departments
By implementing S&OP processes within your organization, you are also integrating several big departments together. Your sales, marketing, manufacturing, logistics, and even finance will be working together to make sure that your supply is meeting demand while also netting profit in the process. With such a wide and diverse scope, it can be difficult to check up on each department’s activities and progress.
Fortunately, there are software solutions that can help you maintain visibility and transparency across all stakeholders. For one, you can digitize all your documentations and upload them into a centralized database, making it easier and faster for everyone else to access. You can use collaborative tools like business process management software that will automatically capture new information and disseminate them to all stakeholders involved.
4. Keeping all stakeholders coordinated
Keeping goals aligned can be tough especially with an aggregated process like S&OP. Nonetheless, this is vital in achieving growth. There can be consequences if one side isn’t as engaged in the S&OP process. For example, if your sales are not in tune with your logistics, this can result in miscommunication with your customers—such as product delivery time and availability.
Having frequent meetings together can be a waste of a time. Not to mention, it can come with the cost of sacrificing productivity across departments. Fortunately, there are communication apps and software that can make collaboration instantaneous and convenient. For one, you can use software programs with centralized dashboards that serve as a real-time communication platform for all stakeholders.
There’s no need for back-and-forth emails, impromptu meetings, or lengthy calls. Through centralized dashboards, all stakeholders can remain coordinated throughout the entire S&OP cycle in just a few clicks.
5. Scaling up your current processes
As technology becomes more accessible and affordable, hardware is no longer the greatest limitation to scalability. Nowadays, more companies are struggling to bridge knowledge and information gaps upon expanding. This is where a cloud-based supply chain can come in handy.
According to a report from Mordor Intelligence, the demand for cloud technology in the supply chain will reach $8.61 billion by 2026. Through such tools, your S&OP processes can become more flexible and accessible.
For one, data transfer and sharing are easier. You can simply upload and download all your documentations and files in a centralized online storage which you can access through different devices. Using cloud-based software also allows you to use its tools and functions across all your devices without further setup. This makes it easier to carry over workflows, knowledge, and information as your business scales up.
6. Inability to reach a united decision
Many complain that S&OP process steps can get repetitive. It is an endless cycle of analysis, presentation, additional analysis, and another presentation. This is mainly due to the lack of executive ownership. As a result, it makes it difficult for all stakeholders to reach a united decision.
It is important to accept that predictive analysis is not like a magic ball. Certain factors and elements in your analysis can change without warning. However, insisting on multiple cycles of in-depth analysis can be a waste of time and resources. Worse, it can disengage stakeholders in the process.
A good technology platform can help you get out of this slump. It can speed up the decision-process and shift the focus from calculations to planning and execution. Using AI-powered software, for one, can give you deeper insights into sales data so that you can focus on actual execution. You can check out Qymatix empower your organization with predictive sales analytics.
7. Leveraging data and analytics
Monitoring and tracking the impact of your current S&OP strategy can be tough. You can’t always keep an eye on all aspects of your operations simultaneously, especially once you scale up. As a result, countless valuable data will go to waste.
Having an analytics software can ensure that you can extract all the data you need to operate smoothly. It can point out the strengths and weaknesses of your current strategy. Likewise, it can gather essential data such as customer demands, behaviors, supply or inventory, sales data, and more. This way, you have an idea of how to improve S&OP process.
Overcoming the hurdles of S&OP
Finding an effective and efficient S&OP process can be tough. But maintaining it can be even tougher. You must first overcome the various challenges in S&OP to ensure its sustainability.
Fortunately, there are software solutions out there that can help you overcome the hurdles of S&OP. These tools can bridge the gaps in your current processes and strategies. So get on with the times and explore what technology has to offer to improve your S&OP process.