What is the process of sales and operation planning?

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Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is a process to align the sales and operations activities of the organization to achieve strategic objectives. Operation planning in the supply chain involves a joint effort between sales, marketing, production and supply chain teams. This helps develop a unified plan to balance demand and supply.

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For instance, a mobile phone-making company can use operation planning in the supply chain. It can, thereby, plan its production and sales activities. Here, the sales team provides a sales forecast based on historical data, market trends and customer demand. The production team uses this forecast to plan the production capacity, inventory levels and raw material needs. The supply chain team ensures that the required components and raw materials are available in time for production.

Benefits of Sales and Operations Planning

Sales and operations planning is a necessary process. Operation planning in the supply chain helps organisations to improve their performance. It also helps them to stay competitive in the market. Some of the benefits of S&OP are:

It allows organisations to develop a unified plan that balances demand and supply.

It involves different teams in the process. This helps improve forecast accuracy and reduce the risks due to demand and supply mismatches.

It helps to reduce lead times by aligning operations. It also enhances production and delivery times. This further helps in better customer service and customer satisfaction.

It helps to optimize inventory levels. It balances the demand and supply and reduces the risks of excess or shortage.

Stages of Sales and Operations Planning

Let's take an example of a manufacturing company to understand the operation planning in the supply chain. Consider that a company produces bicycles. The different stages of the S&OP process here will be:

Data Gathering

The company gathers data on sales, production, inventory and supply chain activities for the last year.

Demand Planning

The company predicts the demand for bicycles for the upcoming year. This prediction is based on historical sales data and market trends.

Supply Planning

The company then plans its production capacity. This includes planning inventory levels and raw material requirements to meet the expected demand.


Once the plan is ready, the company reviews the demand and supply plans. This is vital to make adjustments as per market changes and the company's strategic objectives.

Executive S&OP

Once the plan is reviewed, the senior management further reviews the demand and supply plans. They make decisions on the production capacity to meet the expected demand.

Supply Chain S&OP

Finally, the supply chain team reviews the demand and supply plans. The team ensures that the required items and raw materials are available in time for production.

This is how the bicycle manufacturing company can optimise production to match the anticipated demand. This can help the company to:

Reduce inventory costs

Meet customer demands on time

Improve its financial performance

Implementing Sales and Operations Planning

The implementation of operation planning in the supply chain requires a standard approach. This involves planning, communication and collaboration across the organisation. Here are the critical steps in implementing S&OP:

S&OP requires the active support of senior management. This is to ensure that it is implemented effectively.

The implementation team should include members from different departments. They can be from sales, operations, finance and supply chain. This ensures easy and smooth functioning across departments.

Before execution, the scope of the S&OP process should be defined. It includes the time horizon, frequency and other relevant detail.

Accurate data is critical to the success of S&OP. Hence, the organisation needs to establish reliable data sources.

The process should focus on aligning sales and operations activities. This helps an organisation to achieve its strategic objectives.

Before implementing, it is ideal to train the team on the S&OP process along with the tools and techniques.

The S&OP process should be piloted. It is crucial to monitor and evaluate the process. This helps to test its potency and identify areas for improvement.

It is worth noting that S&OP is an ongoing process. Therefore, it needs to be evaluated regularly. After all, successful implementation of S&OP results in:

Improved forecast accuracy,

Reduced lead times,

Improved customer service levels,

Reduced inventory levels and

Enhanced financial execution.

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Whether you are a graduate or a working professional, you can learn supply chain management. From designing to managing supply chains, the Certified IIT Roorkee Supply Chain Management Course through Imarticus Learning, a learning platform for professionals, covers everything. Enrol today and create a better future.

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