Supply chain planning has changed quite a bit since its early days. Years ago, companies primarily used enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for collaboration and data tracking across the entire business. Today, many companies do their planning with a mix of spreadsheets and ERP systems. Those options work for business planning—but only up to a certain point. Why?
Planning in spreadsheets soon becomes messy, disjointed, and disconnected. It can raise as many issues as it answers, such as: Are forecast numbers updated and shared across the business with relevant stakeholders, including sales, finance, and operations? Are inventory numbers from previous versions of a spreadsheet accurately entered into a new one? What do you do when disruptions like natural disasters and labor issues strike the supply chain?
How to achieve competitive supply chain planning
These are just a few questions that supply chain planning professionals have to consider. To succeed in a growing global market, you need a supply chain that’s connected from start to finish, across your enterprise and beyond. Here are five steps we recommend to achieve connected supply chain planning.
- Make the move to real-time supply chain planning
When using ERP systems and spreadsheets for planning, companies typically rely only on historical data, resulting in little wiggle room for changes should any disruptions occur in demand or supply. For example, based on the previous year’s numbers, a company can estimate the number of products it will sell in the next quarter. But what if a massive hurricane destroyed a key distribution center, leading to too little supply on the shelves? With Anaplan’s real-time connected supply chain planning solution, you can create “what-if” scenarios and plan more effectively so you’re ready when disruptions occur.
- Unify supply chain planning with enterprise planning
A vital second step is connecting traditionally siloed supply chain planning to sales and operations planning and financial planning. Companies can benefit from synchronizing their short-term operational planning with their wider business planning processes to make real-time updates to inventory forecasts and supply. Deploying real-time S&OP solutions that enable enterprise-wide collaboration means key stakeholders across the business can create new scenarios and quickly assess how to use their resources wisely to optimize profitability when an unforeseen event happens.
- Anticipate the demand of the end customer
For consumer packaged goods companies, anticipating what customers want and when they want it is an ongoing challenge. A solution like Anaplan allows end-to-end visibility across the supply chain, and beyond their existing network of wholesalers and retailers to sense demand signals from customers. When you can rapidly identify changing consumer sentiments and assess how that changes demand for your product, it benefits your company, partners, and customers by improving profitability, margins, and lead time.
- Leverage real-time data across all points of the supply chain
Because supply chain planning typically involves a myriad of suppliers, channels, customers, and pricing schemes, models soon become large and potentially unwieldy—especially when spreadsheets are your primary planning tools. Incorporating a solution that uses real-time data allows you to plan with more accuracy and reduces the risk of stock-outs or having too much inventory.
- Ensure you have the flexibility to cope with change
When you have technology that lets you plan efficiently and react quickly, disruptions aren’t disruptive because re-planning and re-forecasting is easy—resulting in time and money saved and increased profitability.
Are you ready to take your supply chain beyond its limitations driven by outdated ERP systems and spreadsheets? By following the steps above, you’ll be ready to collaborate across the enterprise, quickly adjust to market changes, and reap benefits, including lower costs and increased efficiency.
See how the Anaplan platform has enabled many leading supply chain organizations to achieve accurate forecasts and increase profitability.