How can I get – and above all, keep – the Sales department involved in sales & operations planning (S&OP)? That’s the million dollar question in many S&OP processes.
The Supply Chain organisation is the driving force in virtually all S&OP set-ups – which is logical, in a way. After all, the operation won’t get far without planning, and planning is in supply chain managers’ blood. Sales managers are different; they are often more opportunistic by nature and tend to regard planning as a bit of a nuisance.
So getting and keeping the ‘S’ in S&OP involved in the process is easier said than done – but it’s essential to do so. A statistical forecast is nice, but for S&OP it is crucial to assess, validate and enrich that forecast with the associated opportunities and risks, and that input has to come from Sales. The point is that sales managers are good at selling things and maintaining good customer relationships. They don’t generally regard planning as one of their core activities, despite the fact that S&OP can play an important role in facilitating growth, optimising availability and improving delivery reliability. In other words, it’s a sales driver!
Here are five tips for securing the enduring involvement of sales managers in S&OP:
The pointers listed above are no guarantee for success but they will improve the likelihood that Sales will really get – and stay – involved in the process, and that’s crucial. Then, S&OP will strengthen both Sales and Operations and that’s when it will really start to generate business value!