Have a plan—and a contingency plan
In preparation for a game, a football team can watch video of the competition, draw up plays to counteract the specific skills of the opponent’s star players, and study the rival team’s season statistics to determine their strengths and weaknesses. But inevitably, even the most prepared team will encounter the unexpected. An injury to a key player, extreme weather conditions, or an opposing team member having a surprisingly “hot” night can throw any team for a loop. That’s why it’s critical to have a “plan B”—and a “plan C.”
Companies should establish both mid- and long-term planning scope for S&OP that corresponds with critical decision-making constraints. The short-term plans should maintain a level of tactical granularity to inform operational decision making, while plans at the mid-term should focus on strategic expansion. Once those plans are in place, S&OP leaders must assess the risks and opportunities that the company faces, and create contingency plans based on those “what-if” scenarios. These contingency plans deliver insight into what the response should be when the supply or demand reality varies from the plan. During this process, companies must ensure that they’re not only assessing potential risk and the corresponding responses, but also establishing parameters to examine the results and course correct in the future as needed.
Ensure your equipment employs state-of-the-art technology
Football equipment has grown increasingly high-tech. The latest developments include accelerometer-outfitted helmets that send hit intensity data to sideline medical staff and a football with a sensor that registers when the goal line has been passed or a first down has been gained. And of course, football pads have grown more streamlined while also providing greater protection from injury.
Great S&OP supporting technology also provides insightful, actionable data—and protects its users from risk. Surprisingly, many companies today still use spreadsheets to conduct S&OP. This is the equivalent of a modern-day football player taking the field in a leather helmet from the 1920s. Spreadsheet-based S&OP results in silos of inaccurate data and prevents the creation of a singular, complete view across all areas of the business.
Cloud-based S&OP technology provides a platform-neutral approach that works on both enterprise and mobile platforms. Users can leverage existing systems and easily merge multiple data sources in the cloud and deliver them on demand to anyone, anywhere in the organization. The amount of “big data” required to conduct S&OP requires significant processing power and predictive analytics to empower better decision-making. This kind of technology-empowered visibility enables companies to keep their eye on the “goal line”—their most imperative business objectives.
Manage by the metrics
Football is a game of numbers. Starting running backs are expected to rush for a certain number of yards. The passer rating serves as the key performance indicator of a quarterback. Players and coaches analyze these and numerous other team statistics—as well as those of their opponents—and they are held accountable for these numbers by team management. These stats act as a means by which to unlock areas for improvement and competitive advantage.
S&OP requires winning by the numbers as well. The S&OP team is measured on its ability to perform to plan metrics—and should be held accountable when the numbers don’t meet expectations. S&OP teams develop scenario-based analytics to evaluate tradeoffs among alternative resource scenarios, alternative demand plans, and so on. S&OP technology platforms can push exception-based metrics out to executives using mobile platforms to alert them to changes in the S&OP plan or other sudden changes in business conditions that merit re-planning.
Ultimately, on the football field or in S&OP, winning requires leadership, visibility, teamwork, accountability, and agility. Do you have what it takes to win?