Planning Product Flow for Near-Term Operations

Perhaps your supply chain is well-structured to minimize cost and reduce inventory, but how well are you directing what is actually manufactured and how do you distribute it on a week to week, day to day basis?  Maybe you implemented new planning software a few years ago, but your planning decisions still don’t seem as good as they should be. Perhaps you should:

  • Update Sales & Operations Planning processes and policies. The best-practice thinking about S&OP has evolved considerably in the last two decades. In some organizations S&OP has changed into something that isn’t really S&OP anymore. Is that right, or is the original concept still the best choice in your organization?
  • Integrate planning. Most organizations still have big gaps in their planning processes, often exhibited as differences between what corporate planners are thinking and what plants actually do.  Poor inventory deployment is common – often the processes to do that have never been fully thought through.  At a minimum, these gaps lead to inefficient use of planner time and bad decisions.  At worst they lead to jerking plants around at the last minute, poor customer service, and defeat efforts to reduce inventory. The best way to close these gaps and streamline overall planning activity is through careful process integration and systems unification.
  • Redesign planning for new operating needs. For example, Produce-to-Demand operations (discussed in detail elsewhere) require high-speed, short cycle planning. Another example: one client was creating a seasonal inventory build plan by month, but not planning where to deploy the inventory seasonally. That had worked fine when most products went directly from plant to customer, but was now inadequate because their network had changed to heavy use of mixing distribution centers.