The Value of S&OP in Logistics

Article by Kevin O'Meara from 10x Logistics published on March 6th 2013

I have been talking a lot at various events recently on the value of Sales and Operations Planning to the logistician and specifically to those managing transportation.  I have found many so called "great" S&OP processes stop at the end of the factory and just assume unlimited capacity and capability from the distribution arm of the supply chain.  Very few look holistically at the entire chain from raw materials to the consumer and most just look at their particular part of it with some input from upstream and downstream suppliers.

This should and must change. The S&OP process is critical to the proper execution of the logistics' plans of a company.  It is also vital to give your carriers a decent forecast on the capacity needed at a time in the future.  I will remark more on this later in a post soon however I do want to remark on Kevin O'Marah's comments relative to the core aspect of S&OP - Trust.

Even the core of Vested Outsourcing  is built on trust.  In S&OP Gotcha: Bad Collaboration, Kevin discusses how egos and the desire to "win" ultimately can kill a good S&OP process.  Before entering into a true S&OP collaborative process across the virtual enterprise (this includes all participants in the supply chain) you have to agree on core principles and on trust.  If one is trying to get "leverage" over another then I truly believe it is a waste of time to enter into a S&OP process.  Just understand the situation you are in and make the best of it.  The core ideas to S&OP are:

Each trusts each other's data.  If you feel data is manipulated or hidden, you are starting at a weak point right from the beginning. 

  1. Each agrees the "solution" is what is right for the ultimate end user - the consumer. 
  2. Each agrees the "solution" has to be profitable for all.  No one will stay entered in a relationship if it is not profitable.  There is nothing wrong with this.  Where it goes wrong is where one side withholds information or changes information to gain profits at the expense of the other. 
  3. Each agrees to open book sharing.  If key data is withheld then it just will not be possible, long term, to maintain a solid S&OP process. 
For the logistician, the output of this has to then tie to capacity requirements, possibilities and constraints of the logistics network.  One cannot assume whatever the outcome of the core S&OP process can be executed without constraint.  That is a recipe for failure. 
Logisticians need to force their way into the S&OP process of a company and make their voice known.  
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