Tag Archive: S&OP

Do You Know Your Demand?

October 23rd, 2019

This has been emerging as a hot topic. As clients are interested in meeting ever increasing and changing customer expectations while managing long supply chains, changing rules and regulations (including tariffs), and concerns over the cash flow implications of high inventory levels have resulted in discussion around the critical importance of demand. Do you have a handle on your demand plan over the next 12 months?

According to Gartner, every 1% improvement in forecast accuracy will result in 7% less finished goods inventory and 9% reduction in inventory obsolescence. A 1% improvement is imminently doable! Also, according to the experts, a 15% improvement in forecast accuracy will drive a 3%+ increase in pre-tax performance. Last but not least, in our experience, it is one of the best ways to drive a simultaneous improvement in customer service, cash flow and profit.

Every client we talk with says the same thing: Our sales are unpredictable. We have a custom business. We follow lean principles and produce in concert with customer demand. Or, our sales team is on top of it and are already doing everything they can to give us a heads up on demand. We don’t doubt that. However, we have also never come across a situation that couldn’t be improved. With the dramatic results that follow, it proves well-worth the effort.

Instead of brushing off the idea of focusing attention on demand, just think about what could be improved. It isn’t an exercise to beat up sales or planning. In the end, if that is what happens, there is no doubt that is part of the issue. The forecast must be collaborative with input from sales, marketing, customers, planning and anyone who interacts with customers or has input relevant to future demand. With that said, the best forecasts start with a simple statistical base. What do you do?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you should use your forecasts in your S&OP/SIOP process (sales, inventory, and operations planning) to align your demand with your supply so you can maximize your customer value and your bottom line. If you’d like to discuss your situation further, please contact us.

 

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SIOP/ S&OP and Bottom Line Benefits

July 27th, 2019

According to a Hackett group study, the benefits of SIOP (Sales, Inventory & Operations Planning) can be dramatic.

First, let’s back up to describe SIOP: It is an integrated business process that aligns demand with supply through which the executive/leadership team continually achieves focus, alignment and synchronization among all functions of the organization.

In our experience with over 20 SIOP projects, our clients have experienced these same results (and often even better ones), no matter the industry, company size or priority. Simply put, when done well, you’ll have more cash, profit and revenue. What’s not to like!

The types of results fall into three buckets:

  1. Working capital – Undoubtedly, freeing up inventory to increase cash flow is becoming a greater priority as executives realize just how much cash is tied up in servicing customers’ Amazon-like expectations with global supply considerations. Therefore, it is not surprising that we’ve received a serious uptick in requests to increase inventory turns. SIOP is always a part of the solution. Hackett research says 20-30% improvement is to be expected. We have certainly found this to be true.
  2. Cost reduction – Whether we term this cost reduction or margin improvement, 5-10% improvement is what the Hackett study shows. We have seen these results, even by default (when the SIOP program was focused on improving service). Thus, if they can be achieved by default, they certainly can be achieved with focus! Items that fall into this category include material cost reduction, freight cost reduction, labor productivity improvement, and fixed cost optimization.
  3. Sales growth – According to the study, a 2-4% improvement is not uncommon. We have experienced dramatic results in this area with lead time reduction, on-time delivery performance improvement, customer scorecard wins and strengthened partnerships that lead to new and expanded sales opportunities.

For example, in a significant metals-related aerospace business, we started the SIOP journey to reduce inventory levels to free up debt. By partnering with sales to better understand customer requirements and by better aligning the sites on a single plan and set of priorities, we were able to align demand with supply. It was truly about alignment as the performance measurements couldn’t be completely changed (and they often didn’t support the same decisions as SIOP). Yet, we gained executive alignment and focus. This led to our ability to align the various functional areas on a single objective while still recognizing the site level objectives. Therefore, we were able to reduce the inventory in the core product line by 30% while ensuring customer satisfaction levels were maintained or improved.

The question isn’t whether you’ll benefit from implementing SIOP. The only question relates to what you’ll achieve based on your priority focus. Will it lean in the direction of margins, cash flow or customer loyalty and revenue growth? If you’d like to learn more about how to benefit from SIOP, read about it in our blog, explore our proprietary process for SIOP, 4 Excel or contact us to discuss an assessment.

 

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The Strategic Benefit of SIOP

June 26th, 2019

SIOP (Sales, Inventory, Operations Planning) should not be relegated to the Planning Department. Although the planning group is a key participant and might lead the process, SIOP touches upon several strategic issues while creating alignment with Sales, Operations, R&D/ New Product Development, Finance, Purchasing, and others. As a CEO, you must become interested!

We have worked on countless SIOP projects with clients across industries as diverse as building products, food and beverage, healthcare, and aerospace.  It has proven to be the most effective at achieving the win-win-win of enabling growth while maximizing service, cash flow (inventory) and profit. For example, at one aerospace client, we put the fundamentals in place to support SIOP (scheduling, planning systems MRP/MPS, forecasting) and then rolled out a SIOP process involving all key aspects of the organization. Although our objective was to bring service levels from the 60%’s to the high 90%s, we not only accomplished that metric but we also improved margins by 5% and increased morale and engagement. What’s not to like with these results!

Critical Aspects of SIOP
Let’s start with just those elements that are most important to achieving results:

  • Can you get executives involved? Of course, it is better to gain executive involvement upfront.  However, I have found that it is quite doable to gain the involvement over time as well. For example, in one client situation, a key executive was not on board at any level at the start.  So, as we rolled out a pilot process, we convinced him to give the process a try. Once he sat in on the executive SIOP meeting, he became more interested because strategic issues arise such as make vs. buy, changes in sourcing, impacts to sales strategies and more.
  • What do you have to do to get directionally-correct information for making decisions? By NO means do you need perfect information.  In fact, if you wait for perfect information, your decision will be long past. Yet directionally correct information is imperative so that you can make fact-based decisions and/or gain approval from corporate or your Board for what you know must be done to succeed. I cannot think of a client situation where I couldn’t gain access to at least directionally correct information after an assessment, no matter how ancient their ERP system.
  • Will you involve all relevant departments in the SIOP process? If you focus on data and not the people, you will not succeed. The 80/20 of success is to bring typically disparate groups together to align on 1 plan/ path forward. It is much easier to say than to accomplish, and so those clients that do this well have a far higher success rate than the rest. You should involve Planning, Purchasing, Operations, Logistics, Customer Service, Sales, Finance, New Product Development, and any key area of your operation.

SIOP is not a quick resolution.  However, you can make quick interim progress . Similar to safety, it must become part of your day-to-day culture. As business conditions change, roadblocks naturally arise through the process. We’ve found that they have a FAR higher chance of being averted or minimized when they arise as part of the process instead of related to one person or department who typically is seen as the “problem”. Strategic issues also arise naturally through the process so that they are proactively addressed instead of resulting in a reactionary panic.

You can start the SIOP journey with an assessment of readiness with recommendations for improvement. Several clients have started with this approach so that they knew which building blocks to put in place and whether the benefits would drive a substantial return on investment at this juncture. If you are interested in this type of assessment, contact us.

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The Calm After the Storm

January 23rd, 2017


While driving up the street to my house on the way back from driving both directions to the port of San Pedro for a port tour in a horrific storm (for Southern California), I see the calm after the storm. Southern Californians know just how challenging the rush hour freeways can be in a rain shower, and so it is especially significant to see the beautiful effects that can come from such havoc.

How many times do we get caught up in some sort of storm at work (ERP implementations, merger or acquisition, a major change project such as a lean transformation or SIOP initiative) and fail to appreciate the calm after the storm – and celebrate the results?

 

One tip to implement this week:

Unfortunately, we all can probably think of many, many storms in our work life without prompting. If we keep our eyes on the goal even in the worst of it, we’ll see the sun shine through as we complete a milestone or as we drive it home.

While in the midst of a storm this week, remember to keep focused on the goals. Provide a visual of those goals to your team, colleagues and partners. Create a visual if you don’t have one. Generate some excitement about the next milestone. Soon, you’ll emerge on the other side and you’ll see the skies open up and your end results shine through.

 

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”

 



People Remain “In”

December 27th, 2016
people first

If you want to achieve profitable business growth apply the people plus initiative equation and see how your bottom line transforms.

No matter how many conversations go on about technology and the latest and greatest processes to drive results in manufacturing and distribution companies (including robots and automation taking over lower-skill positions), people remain “in”. Without exception, our best clients consider people their #1 asset.

Who develops the programs for the robots? Who figures out how to utilize business analysis tools and predictive analysis/artificial intelligence concepts? And who implements best practice processes such as lean manufacturing, SIOP/S&OP and the like? People!

There is zero doubt that the best employees with mediocre machines, technologies and less-than-desirable systems will outperform mediocre employees with the best machines, technologies and systems — every time! We cannot count the times a facility turned around with a new, exceptional leader. On the other hand, we have also seen large complex organizations change out General Managers like singers change clothes in concerts (for example, Reba used to change clothes 15 times in one concert!) — with NO better results (and often worse results) repeatedly. Eventually, a strong leader arrives with largely the same team and transformation begins. Since we pride ourselves on our successful track record of achieving tangible results in partnership with our clients, it is obvious how important people are in achieving this goal. Our initiatives can turn from tough challenges that will take longer to achieve success into fun, exciting rapid-change projects that deliver bottom line results based on the leader we partner with on the project. 

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