S&OP myths – Replacing legacy systems has to come first?

If thought leaders in your organisation are considering S&OP – sales and operations planning – as a way to future-proof the business and protect profits in the face of tougher competition, then you will have already seen there are some real obstacles to getting started.

However the biggest perceived obstacle – the need to replace legacy business systems – is rarely an obstacle in reality.

The trap that people can easily fall into, is believing that their existing business systems are not able to provide the necessary quality of data to drive accurate forecasts and support profitability based planning. So they unwillingly accept that they will need to wait until a large systems replacement project has been undertaken before they can even start on S&OP.

Fortunately, numerous large paper companies have shown that the opposite is true:

In practice, the data you need to run good S&OP comes firstly from your past sales records and other operational data – typically hidden away but in a workable form in your current systems. And secondly it comes from your historic production information – which is well understood by planners and typically recorded in well-used spreadsheets.

Most successful S&OP pioneers have understood this well. Instead of waiting for the promise of better systems and infrastructure, they started working with what they already had. In practice this meant finding S&OP tools that could extract all the data they needed from legacy systems and spreadsheets, allowing them to get started and deliver real, immediate results.

If you would like more information about successful S&OP initiatives in the paper industry, please check out these case studies or contact me or the team on 01926 623225.

Alan Cheesbrough is an expert in S&OP with particular expertise in the paper industry. He is the founder and CEO of Trading Science, the people behind I-Plan S&OP software.