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Supply Chain Management (SAP SCM)

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Today, at the International SAP Conference on Extended Supply Chain I listened to a great presentation by Raffaele Gianola, GIS Director, Manufacturing and Supply Chain at Whirlpool EMEA, who presented on the companies demand management and S&OP processes and solutions.


Why Integrated Business Planning?

Raffaele explained that 5 factors led to Whirlpool embarking on their IBP journey:

  • Acquisition of the Indesit company put Whirlpool in a position were they had to identify a go forward solution
  • Upgrade of existing systems were long overdue
  • Poor adoption of existing processes & systems by end users
  • Exciting Roadmap for IBP from SAP
  • Wanted to “innovate to simplify” current processes and solutions


Implementing IBP Processes

Whirlpool started with a phased approach with the mentality of “aiming high, but starting small”.

Phase 1 focused on the demand management process in 5 countries. This involved:

  • Cleansing of demand data to establish good basis for forecasting
  • Statistical forecasting to enable unbiased input
  • Measure and identify new KPI’s to improve accuracy, bias and stability
  • Foundation of basic services across all phases
  • Baseline of requirements and content by gathering demand planner inputs
  • Connectivity through Hana Cloud enabled interfaces
  • Enrichment through collaboration and augmentation

There was initially a 4 weeks design step which included a design workshop, master data modelling, detailed design and mock ups and a data flow design. This was followed by a 12 week “realization” phase to configure the system, design templates, interfaces and testing of the system. Raffaelle pointed out that  this phase also included training of users on both the tool, “which was minimal” and change management “which took most of the time”. The pilot and go live took a further 3 weeks.

The Roll Out

The company is currently going through an aggressive roll out of 32 further countries in 11 months, based on the templates agreed and tested in the initial pilot countries. They are currently live in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, UK and Germany. The rest of the countries will be rolled out by the end of 2015.




Key Takaways

In conclusion Raffaelle left the audience with several takeaways.


  • “IBP is ready for business. Whirlpool has done it, you can too”!
  • “Be ambitious, but it‘d be wise to start small”
  • “A new implementation is an opportunity to simplify processes “
  • “Prototype, prototype, prototype”
  • “The excel based UI of SAP Integrated Business Planning is a great opportunity for smart visualizations to aid planning tasks”
  • Don’t underestimate work required for creation of high quality templates for planning views”

Thanks to Raffaele for a great presentation.

Today, at the International SAP Conference on Extended Supply Chain I listened to a great presentation by Phil Cottrell, from Mondolez Mondolez 1.pngInternational about his companies roll out of S&OP processes.

First Phil provided a little background on Mondolez, who are a “global snacks powerhouse who, in 2014, generated revenue of more than $30 billion”. Thy market products in 165 countries and have approximately 100,000 employees worldwide.

Phil explained that “Nearly 85% of revenues come from the fast-growing snacks cateMondolez 2.png

gories and over 75% of revenues come from outside North America.  The company have household brands such as Cadbury, Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Milka, Toblerone, Trident and Halls.


What does Integrated Business Planning mean to Mondelez?


Integrated Business Planning (IBP) processes enables Improved Business Results through Integration, alignment and synchronization. Phil explained that Mondolez define IBP as “a process led by senior management that evaluates and revises time-phased projections for demand, supply, new product development, strategic projects and the resulting financial plans”. At Mondolez, this is done on a monthly basis, on a planned 24+ month rolling horizon.

Mondolez see IBP as a decision making process that realigns the tactical plans for all business functions in all geographies to support the company’s business goals and targets.

A primary objective of the process is to reach consensus on a signal operational plan, to which executives of the management team hold themselves accountable, and allocates the critical resource of people, equipment, inventory, materials, time and money to most effectively satisfy customers in a profitable way.


Aligning Company Plans Every Month

Mondolez 3.pngAt Mondolez, IBP is a “common sense process for aligning company plans every month”. This involves several steps:

  • The Portfolio Management Review (PMR) assesses the sufficiency of the innovation pipeline and the resources required to execute it.
  • The Demand Review (DR) is a process where sales and marketing determine what we will sell over the next 2 years. Determines where we have gaps in the plan and proposes possible solutions to those gaps. Focuses on controlling demand.
  • The Supply Review (SR) creates a supply plan that solves for the demand created by the DR and PMR. Addresses any potential resource gaps with options and recommendations.
  • The Integrated Reconciliation process quantifies the financial implications of the PMR, DR, and SR output. Identifies any key decisions that need to be made at the MBR.
  • The Management Business Review approves plans proposed in the PMR, DR, and SR. Engages the category leadership team on any decisions that still need to be made. Reviews any other gaps that still exist and assigns actions to close them.


Across all steps Mondelez enforces several consistent attributes.

- Planing is done in monthly buckets

- They plan at an aggregate family level

- They have a 24 month horizon with a focus on 4-24

- The processes are executive led to ensure that there is linkage between strategy to tactical

- Monthly Cadence to enable constant replanning based on changes to demand and supply

- Ownership is key , with champions and leads for each step


Identified Benefits

Phil highlighted numerous benefits as a result of this deployment.

  • Reduces financial resource requirements in normalizing and aggregating data.
  • Facilitates a “One Number” plan by making the system the single source of the truth.
  • One system eliminates the need to use/maintain multiple reporting mechanisms.
  • Simulation of Volume & Revenue adjustment and Risk & Opportunity scenarios
  • Improves organizational collaboration with transparency of data.
  • Capacity constraints are identified earlier.

Thanks to Phil for a great overview.

With only one week to go for our much-awaited International SAP Conference on Supply Chain, here is a final reminder of the 7 event highlights to help you register and secure your place.



Join Aeroflot, Arcelik, Autoliv, Boehringer, Bowers & Wilkins, Caterpillar, Covestro, DHL, Roche, Johnson & Johnson, KSB, Medela, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Philips, RWE, SBB, Shell, Sulzer Chemtech, Thames Water, Unilever, Volvo, VWR, Whirlpool and more!



Taking place in Darmstadt on 1-2 October, this business-focused event is packed with:


  • Inspiring keynote talks from thought-leaders on how to transform your supply chain   
  • Honest and practical case studies from leading companies on their unique approach   
  • Interactive and live demos of the latest innovations from SAP experts and partners   
  • Pre-conference workshops to equip you with in-depth expertise of SAP applications   
  • One to one meetings with peers and experts to share challenges and successes   
  • Cross industry learning from co-located events – SAP Conferences on PLM and Manufacturing   
  • An unforgettable evening event giving you the opportunity to meet over 250 senior supply chain executives all under one roof


This is the only event in Europe giving you a business perspective on supply chain transformation with customers sharing their insights.


Register now and join us at 2015’s landmark event for the SAP supply chain community >> http://goo.gl/R52tGn

If you are contemplating implementing SAP Event Management, you will need to be prepared to answer a series of questions in order to be able to establish a design that caters to your needs. The following list of questions is a good start (although there are more based on the answers to some of these):


1. Which processes do I want to track?

2. Which objects of these processes should be monitored?

3. Which events within my processes am I interested in tracking?

4. Are my events date and time driven?

5. Where should the planned dates and times for my expected events come from? (...)

This whitepaper is provided by ERPGenie.com and is available for download here > http://goo.gl/85Fx5Z

Unilever will present their story at the the International SAP Conference for Supply Chain on 1 October, 2015 in Darmstadt, Germany. Here is a brief session outline:


  • Learn about Unilever’s advance collaboration model with SAP to use best in industry IT implementation practices
  • SAP Extended Warehouse Management as a business growth enabler
  • How can applying Unilever’s real life experiences to your business allow you to:

               - Implement proven technologies, methodologies, and tools

               - Reduce total cost of implementation, including project cycles

               - Reduce total cost of ownership

  • Road map and next steps


Check the full conference agenda >> http://goo.gl/8iYrvk

Today, turbulent and volatile markets are now the norm. We face continuous fluctuations in consumer demand, and increasing complex supply chain networks. We encounter endless advancements in technology and increasing levels of globalisation, and as a result, we find that our businesses are now competing in an unpredictable world. So, given such challenges how should we still seek to ensure supply chain stability? And how do we optimise our supply chains to ultimately remain competitive?


Until recent times, a vast array of applications have been build within the constraints of existing databases and platforms. Systems have been built separately, with different systems, and as a result it's been both difficult and time consuming for businesses to obtain real time demand information, and operate with agility.


Yet, these aren't the only consequences. As many of these systems are unable to manage the vast amounts of data our organisations now obtain, our businesses have often made decisions based upon inaccurate, incomplete and outsourced data. Clearly, if we are to strengthen our market position and maximize our efficiencies, we need to evolve. But, how do we do this?



"Simplify. Accelerate. Innovate."

In today's world, our businesses are only able to go as far as our IT infrastructure lets us. However, SAP HANA seeks to change this. HANA breaks businesses free from the limitations they face in order to allow firms to manage, monitor and analyse their processes like never before.


SAP HANA is a new platform based upon an in-memory data base, which enables real-time decision making to become a reality. By accelerating core processes, HANA allows firms to monitor their business processes in an up to the second fashion, and therefore enables users to make key decisions easier, faster and more accurately. In addition, by operating in real time, businesses can respond to unexpected events with unprecedented agility, to ensure that they remain ahead of the competition. HANA also has an ability to manage high volumes of data. No longer must users rely upon their own judgement and intuition when making decisions, as HANA enables firms to utilise all the data their businesses acquire to validate and improve the accuracy of their decision making.




APO on HANA 1.png


Why Run APO on HANA?

Making Supply Chain Faster & Responsive


SAP Advanced Planning and Optimisation (APO) is an application at the heart of Supply Chain Management. APO offers businesses a fully integrated pallet of functions that enable firms to plan their end to end supply chain processes. With APO, businesses can collaborate on a tactical and operational planning level to continuously optimise their supply network efficiency.


By placing APO on HANA, Supply Chain Management Issues are turned into Opportunities.


- With APO on HANA, accessing timely information is no longer a major problem for businesses. The application increases productivity through providing faster planning processes and improved user experiences.


  • - By installing liveCache on the same HANA server, the need of a separate maxDB server is eliminated, hence reducing TCO and simplifying set-up and administration.
  • - Before HANA, many decisions made by firms have been based on incomplete, inaccurate and outdated information. However, with APO's real-time reporting Supply Chain Info Center, businesses can increase the speed and accuracy of their analysis to improve the effectiveness of their decision making.







Every year, the adoption of APO on HANA continues to increase and these users continue to gain tangible benefits from their upgrade. In January 2015, a major communication technology provider made the decision to implement APO on HANA, and as a result increased the performance of their back Order Processing by 5 times. Before HANA, this process took the company over 30 minutes, but through the use of HANA, such processes was reduced to 6 minutes.


In addition, a major apparel industry player also chose to implement SAP APO on HANA, and found more than a 30% improvement in end-to-end Demand Planning and Supply Network Planning processes. Another leading consumer appliance company also reaped the benefits of APO on HANA as they were able to reduce their MRP Process Run in PP/DS by almost half. Clearly, these results have had a major impact upon both productivity and decision making capabilities within the firm, as they have largely enhanced both the strength and stability of their supply chains.


The evidence is therefore clear. Run data in Real-time, in reinvent your business processes, and reimagine your business decisions with APO on HANA.

Big data offers tremendous potential to improve many aspects of a company’s business, and can have a major impact on a company’s overall operating and financial performance.


According to a recent Global Operations Megatrends Study (Big Data Analytics in Supply Chain: Hype or Here to Stay?) by Accenture, most companies have high expectations of incorporating analytics on big data in their supply chains, but adopting it has been a challenge. In fact,  97 percent of the executives surveyed understand how big data analytics can improve their supply chain, but only 17 percent have implemented it.


SAP is conducting a research study on Big Data across the Extended Supply Chain with the goal of determining how companies can capture and leverage big data to:


  • Design products that incorporate sensory technology
  • Continuously improve the performance and design based on consumer preferences and automated feedback
  • Drive more effective S&OP process and decision making?
  • Respond faster and have more effective reaction time to supply chain issues based on actual supply and demand events and triggers?
  • Improvement in customer service and demand fulfillment
  • Increase in supply chain efficiency
  • Optimize inventory and asset productivity
  • Improve customer and supplier relationships?
  • Turn data into information with improved analytics and decision support analytics


As part of this study we are inviting executives and business practitioners to take the "Big Data in the Extended Supply Chain Survey" to provide your perspective.


The survey is targeted at decision makers and business experts from logistics, supply chain management, operations, R&D, asset management and Environment, Health and Safety who are concerned with capturing, analyzing and using Big Data to improve their business processes.

Take the Survey by clicking here.

Follow me @howellsrichard

A deep dive into the Procure To Pay Processes and the automation thereof by ERPGenie. Brief whitepaper summary:

  • Introduction to Supply Chain Maturity
  • About Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) including standards definition, mapping, typical advantages, common hurdles to overcome when implementing
  • PTP Process: Purchase order > PO confirmation > ASN > Gods receipt > Invoice receipt
  • PTP Order Management: Automating the PO and the PO confirmation or acknowledgement
  • PTP Fullfilment: Automating the advance ship notice (ASN), application advice and leveraging with Goods receipt (GR)
  • Vendor Compliance: Vendor scorecard – Perfect order


Download the whitepaper >> http://goo.gl/43yr4L

To conclude the 10 Reasons to Build a Control Tower Series, this blog we will seek to explore the final key reasons as to why such a device should be built and utilised within organisaitons across the globe. Previously, it was uncovered that the Control Tower is a key player in enabling business to obtain cross-functional views, improve their decision making capabilities and ultimately optimise their supply chain performance. Yet, what else does the Control Tower enable firms to achieve?

8. Leverage the Power of Big Data

What value does big data really hold for businesses?


Today, the scale, scope and depth of data which our supply chains generate is rapidly accelerating. Limited supply chains are now evolving into multifaceted, dynamic and connected value webs, and as a result, we are now bombarded by significant amounts of competitive and conflicting information. But how do we make sense of all this data? And how do we identify discrepancies and obtain useful insights when we are surrounded by a vast, and ever growing, array of information?

To reap the benefits of big data, we need to develop new strategies. We need to build effective tools to analyse the information we acquire, and we need to obtain useful insights buried within it to support our decision making. Because after all, data in itself is really no value at all. Its value comes from being of a process that collects, stores, analyses and transforms insights into business actions that drive forward improvements. Arguably, the Supply Chain Control Tower largely assists firms overcome the challenges faced. The tool strives to consolidate all data obtained within the business into a single place, and therefore enables users obtain valuable understandings and insights to improve their decision making capabilities.


A recent report my Accenture only highlighted the major business value which may obtained from the utilisation of big data. According to the survey, although it was found that 97% of respondents believed that big data analytics would benefit their businesses, only 17% of respondents have already implemented analytics within one or more areas of their supply chains. Clearly, such statistic highlights a major opportunity for firms to cease competitive advantage through the use of big data analytics, obtained through the utilisation of a Control Tower.



9. Empower Your Enterprise with Real Time Decision Making

... Because time is the one asset we cannot replace

External upheavals can occur at any time. But how do we respond to them? How do we act fast, when our supply chains are now increasingly complex networks? In today's world, timing is a critical success factor. We need to understand what's happening, when it's happening.


Through the Control Tower's real time capabilities, timing is no longer a major issue encountered by firms as the device enables users to monitor their business process in an up to the second fashion. With such device, businesses can react faster to events impacting upon their operations, as soon as they arise. They can uncover trends and patterns in an ad hoc and empowered manner, and as a result potential disasters can be overcome.


For example, with the Control Tower, users are able to track inventory and consistently monitor their shipments. If issues arise, businesses are immediately notified of the issue, and can take steps to solve the problem before it escalates. Now let's suppose a shipment is lost. With the help of the Control Tower, users are immediately notified of this occurrence. They can identify alternate routes and can transport additional stock from warehouses else where in order to ensure that the product reaches the customer by the set time.  By immediately  identifying these issues, we can find more effective and cheaper ways to overcome the issues we face, and as a result we are able to deliver consistent, efficient and resilient supply chains.



10. Gain End-To-End Visibility of Your Supply Chain

Imagine if we could know the unknown

In today's business environment, we need to strive to make strategic decisions that impact not only upon specific business functions, but upon our entire end-to-end supply chains. We need to have a greater understanding into what's happening faster, and we need to engage more closely with the "bigger picture". Yet, how can we manage what we cannot see?


In a recent survey it was found that 80% of respondents stated that they have no-full visibility of their supply chain. However, when reflecting on today's current business environmnet, it seems visibility is a critical strategy for enterprises aiming to reduce costs and improve their operational performance. Imagine if we could know the unknown, if we could track things which we previously could not see. Imagine if we could outsource our logistics more effectively, if we could improve our customer service levels, and if we could lower safety stock levels. Through the utilisation of a Control Tower, businesses are able to achieve all of these capabilities. The device provides users with end-to-end supply chain visibility, and therefore enables users to continiously track their processes, inventory and data at all times.



So What Are You Waiting for?

"Whoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times"

Ironically, in today's world the companies who are most determined to improve and further develop themselves are already in the lead within the market place. It is those who are able to manage the challenge of growing complexity. It is those who are able to produce and distribute products to customers on time. It is those who are able to consistently deliver high levels of customer service that ultimately lead their competitors in our current competitive landscape.


Maintaining and sustaining old systems is now a risk. Putting in place short term fixes and doing what ever you can to return to your old ways of operating is no longer a feasible solution. Having entered an era of dramatic transformation, as a result of a combination of accelerating technological advancements and widespread experimentation with new operating models, we must now be innovative and disruptive to be competitive.


So, why be a follower when you can be a leader?



To refer to previous blog posts within this series:


Part One:




Part Two:


Turning a New Leaf for Green Supply Chains

As a customer, a finished product may be all you are concerned about, but for the new socially aware consumer, how that product made it to them can equally impact your satisfaction with your product. The human carbon footprint’s impact on the environment has been a debated topic for many years. My generation and generations after will be directly affected by the way we are using and abusing our natural resources. As a result of our ability to prevent future Earth from looking like it does in the movie Wall-E, people have become more aware of what resources they use and how they use them, the humanistic approach to sustainability.

Sustainability is a term not only individuals, but companies are also revolving their business around today. You may notice more coffee cups assuring you it was made from recycled materials, or your plastic water bottle made with a certain percent less plastic material, but could these materials have been conserved all together in the first place? We are so caught up in this term of sustainability that we often forget the notion of conservation as well.

With SAP Integrated Business Planning for example, a supply chain is able to function with less inventory, then it is subsequently able to reduce raw material consumption, lower manufacturing and transportation energy consumption. This minimizes the overall amount of obsolete inventory to dispose of. These materials we are using that are made up from previously recycled materials may not had to be thrown away in the first place if it was not for obsolete inventory.


Unilever is a great example of a company who are embracing sustainability. According to businessgreen.com, Unilever is focusing on a few core agricultural commodities in their tea production that will ensure “real change across their value chain”. The importance of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Strategy is also stressed, which includes a partnership with Solidaridad and a process for "continuous improvement" requiring suppliers to prove how they working towards environmental and social best practices (businessgreen.com).

Some of these best practices are seen at their estates in India, Kenya and Tanzania. For example, employees are researching less pesticide use and supporting natural diversity by preserving forests in the plantations. Some are also using plantation wood as fuel and hydro-electricity to generate electricity and reduce CO2 emissions. Unilever has also provided guidelines languages according to countries, which is necessary to communicate a universal approach, even to small supplier farmers, so everyone is on the same page (csreurope.org).

Perhaps a company like Unilever can encourage you to research the practices of companies you are giving your business to and remember that what’s on the inside matters. After all, the trend will start to catch on and eventually be mandatory according to Top 3 of the Top 10 Supply Chain Trends for the Next 10 years. So, turn over a new tea leaf and be inspired by these companies to start encouraging and helping implement more sustainable supply chains.

Christian Boos, Head SAP Global Supply Chain Services, SAP talked about innovation and using changes to your advantage. It was also mentioned how market trends will influence the Supply Chain designs within mobility, cloud computing, social networks, big data and the internet of things.

Christian's presentation is available for download for a limited period of time via this link >>


Check out the International SAP Conference on Supply Chain 2015 taking place on 1-2 October 2015 in Darmstadt, Germany.


Join the SAP Supply Chain Professionals group on LinkedIn >>

With a lot of stress on Agile Methodology in Project Management doing the round these days, let us see how this can be of help in Managing fixed cost SAP SCM Implementation Projects.


Definition: Agile software development is a group of software development methods in which solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change (definition from Wikipedia). Below it illustrates how Agile Methodology works while collaborating with customers.


Pretext: A couple of years back while executing a project, the project already went behind schedule by one and a half month in the initial phase itself, i.e Project preparation phase whose main tangible outcome is As-Is document and user requirement specification. To put things in perspective, for a fixed cost project with a planned delivery time of 11 months, It took three and a half month to complete the As-Is against the planned two months. The challenge in front of PMO (Project Management Office) which includes both the implementation partner and the customer was how to meet the Go- live deadline without squeezing phases of the project where business core team and users participate. That roughly translates to shortening the blue print and realization phase of the project.


Challenge: One of the major requirement from URS (User Requirement Specification) was to have a custom Life Cycle Planning tool which should be intuitive and lot of user interaction enabled with some amount of intelligence built in. Obviously those requirements could not have been met by standard Life Cycle Planning tool in SAP APO. The estimated ABAP effort including unit testing for ABAP object was about 120-130 man hours and that nearly consumes major share of budgeted and available hours for ABAP meant for realization phase on account of delay in As-Is phase. Along with this there was one more major enhancement identified as a part of blue print along with a few reports. Planned Integration Testing (IT-1) by the core team was for 6 weeks. Meaning incorporating major changes / bug fixes identified during Integration Testing would obviate any chance of sticking to the planned go-live date.


Project as well as high level solution Approach: Customer was sensitized with shortened delivery phase and risk in terms of identifying major issues once project gets into Integration Testing Phase. System Integrator's proposal to get business core team's engagement during the realization / build phase itself was accepted by the customer, particularly for those major enhancements. As like any other major task, we adopted a divide and rule approach here too. Meaning, on completion of every sub module of the enhancement after testing from our side (Integrator's side) we asked core team to go through and and perform testing what was completed until then. For SCM-APO-DP enthusiasts the approach followed to design this life cycle planning tool was to upload an excel sheet to update a custom table with Phase-in / phase out values in percentages with a number of validations followed by writing the values in live cache. A macro too was used to make the solution complete and fool proof. A separate post, as it deserves, exclusively dealing with design details of this custom life cycle planning module will be taken up in due course. To cut the long story short, end result was by the end of realization phase core team (the team which is supposed to do Integration Testing) was quite comfortable with those enhancements.


During Integration Testing it emerged out that a development that needed 150-160 hours of development (including thorough unit testing) was tested with zero major issues.


In another project we applied Agile methodology in a completely different context, this time for SNP though (basically a planned order download / upload program in ECC which gives production planners ability to reconcile SNP optimizer results involving a number of validations). This example is brought out to drive home the point that Agile methodology equally qualifies for ABAP developments which is slightly complex in nature too [involving integration between multiple systems (ECC & SCM)].


Interesting thing is While implementing this methodology we actually were not aware there was a name to it. Only motivation to adopt this methodology was constraint in terms of time and complexity associated with those developments.


Now for seasoned Agile methodology practitioners, there can be many debates whether what was done in above two cases were really 'Agile' or not. Because in one case there was a design Specification functional spec) available including all the validations to be done where as in other case design was not clear at all when the ABAP development was started off. So in case - 1 when 'Agile' was used an iterative test approach to mitigate the risk in terms of time constraint, for the second case the very design itself emerged out of iterative approach.

Lessons learnt

Advantages:Of the many a couple we realized are mentioned below.

1) Since onsite-offshore model was followed in both the projects another advantage of 'Agile Methodology' came into fore in giving customer with visibility of    progress made in coding at regular intervals which typically takes place in offshore.

2) Mitigating the time challenge.

3) Applied where clarity of design was not there during beginning of the build.



1) People involved in development may be worn out because of the sheer number of iterations involved.

2) There may be a tendency to include more requirements in the scope as we progress during the development phase.

What happen, if your supply chain planning is cutting edge, but your are still not able to quickly and efficiently react to changes in demand and supply or to ensure resources are prioritized to meet business needs.


No doubt, changing consumer demand, supply and economic uncertainty are key challenges in business. Being intimate with customers to understand them to the point of predicting  their needs is crucial for success.

Demand Driven Business Planning, where ‘Multi Dimensional planning’ prepares a flexible supply chain based on expected customer and market forecast across time horizons, operations and finance. However plans are only a start, and industry benchmarks have forecast accuracies typically <70% (depending how measured), therefore Demand Networks need the agility to adapt to real customer and market demands in the shorter term.


The challenges of operating a global supply chain in a world of increasing demand volatility, channels and complex supply networks are on the increase. Success depends on the ability to plan in faster cycles and re-plan supply across the network quickly and responsively. An increasing supply chain strategy is to not only improve the planning over longer time horizons, but also mitigate inevitable exceptions and volatility through fast and intelligent response and supply orchestration. The focus is in the shorter time horizon, and enabling a real time data driven supply chain.

SAP offers end-to-end solutions enabling advanced business processes for  Response and Supply Orchestration, with proven business value like reduced lead time and improved service levels at lower cost,  enabling higher quote / order conversion rate, as well as reduced stocks levels and work in progress.

  • Response and Supply Management
    SAP Solutions in Response and Supply Management enable companies to re-plan supply, and match supply to demand across the network quickly and responsively. Including the ability to prioritise different demand streams and customers in constrained Omni-channel supply chains
  • Production Planning and Scheduling
    With SAP customers can integrate  planning with scheduling and execution having a consistent view on inventory, capacity, and product data. Schedule resources optimally considering finite capacity and material availability constraints. Gain real time visibility into production and resource status available for alerts and responsive rescheduling.
  • Response Network
    SAP Solutions provide an end-to-end cloud-based offering helping companies to connect with their partners effectively through a shared Network. Companies can engage in innovative joint supply chain initiatives to improve service levels, cycle times and reduce inventories.


The bottom line? Supply chains need to be differentiated and offer increasingly high service levels, yet cost is still critical and  it is not competitive to carry excessive inventory, lead time and capacity buffers to protect all risks and exceptions. To manage risk fast responsive agility is needed.






Because every second counts and that is true for Supply Chain, too










See you, Volker Wilhelm

Follow us on twitter SCMatSAP

In 1913, Henry Ford introduced our country to a mass production moving assembly line to increase efficiency in the manufacturing of The Model-T, which was an affordable car that offered no personalization, not even a choice of color.  However, contrary to the early 1900’s, in today’s world customization is necessary.  How else would people live without their 20 inch rims, chrome door handles, oversized sun roof, heated steering wheel, and hand painted initials on the side of their cars?

3D printing can take customization to a whole new level, in fact an instantaneous level. Although common customization today is unique to your preferences like picking colors for your sneakers online, you are still limited with your options, not to mention having a higher lead-time for them to be made and then shipped. Imagine getting exactly what you want from the shade of a certain color, all the way down to an extra supported insole for your right foot that is less arched than your left. Or think about automotive manufacturers using 3D printing to provide a cup holder that fits your favorite extra wide coffee mug.

The more materials the more possibilities

With the array of materials being used such as plastic, nylon, stones, metals, wood, and bamboo, the future of 3D printing will be able to produce virtually anything. Homes and buildings will be the creations of 3D printing, which will drastically change manufacturing plants that are currently producing materials to build them. The future of shopping will be going to a department store where a 3D printer will allow you to design your own product from the available material instead of picking from finished products. Medicine is even being created with precise amounts of pill ingredients into colors, shapes, and sizes unique to the patient.


Another material that 3D printing is capable of using is food. Barilla conducted a contest that called for the best design shape for pasta, which was a rosebud made possible by a 3D printer. Endless marketing opportunities running through your head? In addition, Hershey’s chocolate factory has its very own custom chocolate printer where you can make whatever your sweet tooth desires. Will the massive amount of heart shaped boxed chocolates produced for Valentine’s Day suddenly not make the cut? Richard Howells expands on the possibilities of food being printed in his blog What Can I Print for You Off the Menu Today? 3D Food Printing Could Soon be a Reality.




The impact on supply chains

More supply chains will be make-to-order versus make-to-stock because customers will be picking out exactly what they want. This will result in less inventory required which will therefore translate to less holding costs and lower total cycle times. However, there will be pressures on costs since economies of scale will fade. Another factor that will be effected is the factories because they will most likely have to be smaller and located closer to the end user to keep up with the demand of the customer. In conclusion, we are going to start to see massive changes in the way products are made, sourced, and delivered whether it’s on a large scale such as an office building or as simple as a lollipop.


At SAP Insider Prague I listened into a session delivered by Tandeep Sandhu from Bombardier, he was talking to us about how Bombardier used SAP PLM and SNC to enable them to release a new line of aircraft for the 100-149 seat market and increase their market share in the process.


To give some background, Tandeep began by painting the picture of the company. Bombardier are the 3rd largest aerospace company, they design, build and support both business and commercial aircraft. As expected for a company in this position, they operate on a global scale and employ over 35,000 people.


Before embarking on this project, Bombardier outlined the key challenges that would have to be overcome in order to be successful in their bid to enter a new segment of the aircraft market.

  • There was no cross communication between the existing systems.
  • Whatever solution they picked had to run using ECC to fit alongside their current set up
  • A system was needed that could enable the engineering department to trigger a BOM change and manage the knock-on effect that this causes
  • A necessity was to create a seamless process to integrate with their tier 1 supplies, this would enable them to be a ‘paperless’ organisation and be able to manage a JIT delivery process
  • Due to the set-up of the particular industry, engineering own the change management process and the BOM is extremely large


After discussions with SAP, a comprehensive solution of PLM and SNC was chosen. Each solution covered all the challenging areas that Bombardier had outlined using various capabilities.

  • Supplier collaboration was possible and a communication platform was created using SNC
  • Paperless document exchange using PLM C folders alongside SNC
  • Visibility of shipments using SNC advanced shipping notification functionality
  • Enhanced inbound process and reduced manual entry of data through goods receipt with barcode scanning


Tandeep wrapped the session up nicely by providing us with the key things that should be taken away from his presentation.

  • Trends such as increased global sites and suppliers, more competition and higher customer expectations are driving supply chains to be more efficient
  • Prototyping is crucial in projects introducing new technologies
  • Get hands-on experience as soon as possible
  • Do extensive testing to discover where the issues are with your process and technology as early as possible
  • Avoid customizing the system to a point where it cannot accommodate the future roadmaps
  • Ensure there is enough support from the business and IT to resolve possible integration issues
  • There are significant advantages to a well-tested integrated solution


It was great to hear yet another customer talk so positively about how SAP have enabled their business to achieve targets that were previously beyond their reach. Many attendees went up to Tandeep after the session to thank him for providing an insight into the Bombardier journey, I would like to express my gratitude too for the fascinating story of his experience with SAP.




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