An S&OP and IBP travel guide

The topic of sales & operations planning (S&OP) continues to receive plenty of attention from supply chain professionals. As far back as 2010, I reported on it as a ‘hot topic’ and noted that conference speakers were often describing S&OP as “a journey of continuous improvement. You will never arrive”. Even then, integrated business planning (IBP) was already being presented as S&OP’s successor. While it’s true that the S&OP (and IBP) journey is a neverending one, it is absolutely essential to know where you are heading, irrespective of whether you ever get there. The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland hit the nail on the head: “If you don’t know where you are going then it really doesn’t matter which way you go.”

The big challenge in S&OP and IBP is that you never reach the final destination; based on the ideal 18-month planning and decision-making time frame, the horizon remains the same distance away month after month. Personally, I view the monthly cycle of S&OP meetings as a relay race with a team of four runners (Product, Demand, Supply and Business Review) who, at the end of the week, hand over the baton containing the necessary data and the decisions to be made. After each lap, there are still 18 months to go until the finish line and the scoreboard shows the performance against the annual budget.

Over the years, Involvation and Supply Chain Media have developed all kinds of practical tools to make the S&OP and IBP journey as smooth as possible. A mindmap, a checklist, a self-assessment tool and a roadmap can all support companies that have embarked on this never-ending journey. We have now brought all that valuable content (and more) together in this special edition about this timeless topic. This content is not only relevant for supply chain professionals, but also for all decisionmakers in a company, as solidly underlined by the fact that the renowned IMD Business School in Lausanne uses our S&OP mindmap as part of its MBA teaching.

I hope – and expect – that this special edition will help you make good headway on your S&OP and IBP journey.

Martijn Lofvers
Chief Trendwatcher Supply Chain Media

Read the special online