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Why does sales & operational planning (S&OP) make sense for a logistics service provider?

Why does sales & operational planning (S&OP) make sense for a logistics service provider?

“S&OP helps us to seize growth opportunities” – Sabine Zijderlaan


Typical S&OP topics: 

  • Scaling capacity up and down proactively 
  • Responding to expectations faster 
  • Providing transparency into workload & priorities 
  • Agreeing on when to stimulate or hold back customer demand  
  • Aligning execution with strategy 



Zijderlaan is a third-generation family-owned logistics service provider. Over the past 85 years, it has continued to expand in terms of both volumes and types of activities. Sustained growth calls for continuous professionalization of the organization and business processes, and therefore also for a medium-term plan. 

Service providers have to make optimal use of resources  

For service providers, it is particularly important to offer a high-quality service because, unlike manufacturers, they can’t use stock as a way of keeping customers happy. In the dynamic world of transport & logistics, customers usually want short lead times. This means that service providers must excel in managing their capacity. In a capital-intensive sector, it comes down to making optimal use of your resources in order to provide excellent service at competitive rates.

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Seasonal effects – coping with complexity 

Activities for customers in sectors such as agriculture and construction are affected by strong seasonal fluctuations in demand. According to Sabine Zijderlaan, Managing Director, her transport company has to pull out all the stops when crops such as beetroot or wheat need to be harvested as quickly as possible. Likewise, when several customer campaigns are scheduled simultaneously or are as unpredictable as the weather, Zijderlaan needs to be prepared to respond to the surges in demand.  

Preventing the planner from getting ‘lumbered’ with an impossible puzzle 

When setting up an S&OP process, the aim is to make tactical (i.e. monthly) decisions based on looking up to 12 months ahead so that the expected capacity utilization rate remains between the minimum and maximum levels. This ensures that the supply chain department has sufficient resources to absorb the short-term fluctuations in supply and demand. An effective S&OP process makes it possible to align the day-to-day execution with the company strategy and to proactively make the right trade-off decisions. In other words, this prevents the planner from getting ‘lumbered’ with a puzzle that’s impossible to solve. 

Putting observations into practice 

To analyse the problem, Involvation approached the situation from a broad perspective. This led to the consultants offering support across a wide range of areas: company strategy, customer segmentation, organizational structure, process improvements and therefore also with setting up a decision-making framework for the medium-term horizon. The combination of both Involvation’s and Zijderlaan’s knowledge and experience as a constructive partnership produced a tangible result. Today, Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) is the key decision-making process within which senior executives and departmental managers reach agreement on the medium-term plans.    

All in all, Zijderlaan is convinced of the advantages of structured decision-making related to capacity management and continuous improvement. Aligning supply (Operations) and demand (Sales) is beneficial for customers and employees alike. Moreover, S&OP bridges the gap between strategy and execution so that Zijderlaan can fulfil its role as a ‘linking pin’ in the supply chain even more successfully. This keeps Zijderlaan on track to achieve its growth strategy: “S&OP helps us to seize growth opportunities.” 


v.l.n.r. Leo Lokker (Commercieel dir.), Sabine Zijderlaan (Algemeen dir.)
en Tim Zijderlaan (Transport dir.)

If you like to receive more information, or do you want to discuss your situation? Pease contact Sjoerd Bosma.

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