5 tips on how to get the best of your Sales and operations planning

best of Sales and operations planning

Each company that strives to be at a certain point of development tomorrow has its own strategic goals. And on its way to achieving these goals, she needs some kind of “GPS”, which will give clear directions. Let’s see tips on how to get the best of your sales and operations planning.

Sales and operations planning, an integrated repeatable business management process, that is empowering business leaders to concentrate on key supply chain drivers, is the GPS we’re talking about: S&OP processes bring organizations closer to achieving goals and help them automatically correct the route if they go astray.

Improved S&OPs will help management understand current financial performance and anticipate future results. We’ve picked up the top 5 tips for you on how to get the best of your S&OP!

1. Leverage the right technology

To successfully improve your S&OP, you need to focus on modern software tools that will open up new opportunities for you to use your CRM system, analyze opportunities based on probability, and, as a result, successfully integrate the resulting data into the organization’s planning system.

This approach helps to make your sales and operations planning and financial forecasting process as accurate as possible.

Today, there are plenty of tools like Streamline, SAP Integrated Business Planning, Blue Yonder Demand Planning, Kinaxis RapidResponse, Oracle Demantra, and others. However, think twice when choosing the tools, ‘cause your choice, one way or another, can affect the fundamental processes in the company.

It’s always a good idea to opt for proven solutions that offer an integrated approach to solving business problems, so look for authoritative & advanced software tools that help your sales leaders and their teams harness the power of dynamic guided selling to streamline sales and operations planning.

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One of such tools is Revenue Grid, a Salesforce-native and AI-powered Guided Selling platform with a number of its features, essential for successful Sales and Operations Planning, for example:

  • The Pipeline Visibility feature will be quite useful for sales leaders for analyzing S&OP metrics, giving a clear understanding of the sales process, and setting up best sales practices. Get a clear picture of the health of your pipeline, crucial metrics, and root causes of the current situation at your fingertips, gain the possibility to instantly check where the deal stands, allowing having a better awareness of where supply should be at for products.
  • Revenue Signals are interactive, contextual alerts that guide your salespeople toward the next greatest option. Such an approach helps completely remove the guesswork from the decision-making process, assist reps to stick to the conventional sales process and provide predictability to deals, which simplifies sales and operations planning as much as possible.

The platform seamlessly integrates with Salesforce, which helps to incorporate it into your organization’s everyday operations.

Also, you should seriously think of supply chain automation. The algorithmic approaches of AI and ML are making great strides in how supply chain operators cope with their data collection, classification, and further analysis. And Revenue Grid’s advanced Sales Automation features have a great potential for that.

2. Link your key processes

Integration of business processes allows you to quickly increase work efficiency, ensure accessibility to all data, save more time, and increase your sales.

Do not refuse to keep some of the existing stand-alone processes in your company, such as production planning or sales forecasting the way they are now. Instead, make sure that there are close relationships between the existing processes and that your sales team members understand these relationships.

Also, keep in mind that not all processes can be managed within a single system: for example, sales forecasting, production and capacity planning, as well as sales forecasting can be performed in different systems, if they are linked by a single monthly sales forecast.

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3. Focus on key data

Your business should have a tolerance for some level of sales forecast and production (let’s say, +/-20%). Do not always concentrate on a steady share, but try to clearly understand, where you see a huge forecast over or under consumption or main production constraints.

What organization’s products and customers are affected and what are the causes of that? How long will the changes last and will it justify additional investments, idle capacity, or re-tooling?

To make your S&OP more effective, you should focus on specific information required for decision-making only.

4. Visualize sales trends and update your plans

Start by clearly visualizing current sales trends and metrics, then, begin updating your plan in real-time.

To plan your sales and operations as accurately as possible, consider creating a central data repository, and provide all organization departments with instant access to this information and a clear insight into attainment vs. plan in the most convenient and understandable form.

This approach will allow you to empower each team member to immediately understand where they are. Also, it will have a positive impact on their ability to make accurate predictions.

5. No cross-functional engagement

The whole point of the S&OP process is to keep each part of the organization moving in the same direction and to do this, you will have to involve all stakeholders in the process. 

Research shows that a third of companies did not involve their sales department in the S&OP process. About half of them did not involve Operations or Finance. And the lack of communication left some participants outside the S&OP process that negatively affected the effectiveness of its implementation and improvement.

But to take the best of your S&OP and make it really work, all participants should have full and instant access to general information that concerns them. However, you should make sure that each of them receives this information in a form that is as clear and convenient for them as possible.


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