I have been in the planning space just over 20 years. I’d say during the first 12-15 of those, supply chain planning (S&OP) in B2B industries has often (unfortunately) been considered a “nice to have.” Repeatedly, I’d seen leaders in this capability outperform their peers in financially measurable ways, but for many companies – planning wasn’t escalated as a strategic priority.
Fast forward to today, B2B companies now must integrate all aspects of operations with the customer to deliver an experience that mirrors the ease and visibility of retail shopping ones. Even the most basic capability in this regard – providing an accurate promise date – is a challenge to many supply chain organizations. Layer on increased product stocking and network complexities, and it’s clear that companies must build internal skills at demand and supply management, or risk disappointing customers and suffering unnecessary profit erosion due to poor inventory health.
Oracle has recently added a full-featured replenishment capability to its Cloud Supply Chain Planning suite. A few points on this as it relates to more traditional supply planning software products:
- Simplicity: Supply-side planning and modeling tools can be complex and difficult for users to understand. Oracle enables a model of supply that is easy to understand, for both planners and those outside the organization who are customers of the plan.
- Policy Effectiveness: I mentioned “policy based,” which at first sounds unsophisticated (think min/max). But Oracle has introduced segmentation features which allows companies to define unique policies that match a demand characteristic and auto-assign items to those segments and policies. The flexibility here to drive unique stocking-level policy sets can mean a great deal for more effective inventory management.
- Dynamic: One of the biggest drawbacks of previous-generation policy-based systems are that the targets you set would become dated – and reanalyzing and refreshing these were a chore. In this tool, Oracle continually analyzes product history and automatically reassigns items to more appropriate policies as business conditions change.
As always, the most important aspect of success with a planning solution is the organization’s commitment to the planning function. It requires a commitment to investing in true demand and replenishment planners, to their ongoing education, and to creating an environment where planning is embraced by those across the supply chain. But purely from an enabling technology set, it’s worth a fresh look.
Listen to this on demand webcast, to hear more from KPMG and Oracle on Oracle Replenishment Planning features and how it can help improve your planning process.