When Answers Aren’t Enough: Seeing the Future with Integrated Business Planning

What if I told you I have a supply chain management (SCM) solution that can answer all your questions about your business by providing accurate, up-to-the minute data on your current supply chain, inventory, and customer order pipeline?

You’d be somewhat impressed, I’m sure. But I think you’d also feel as if something were missing.

After all, if you’ve been running your business on spreadsheets, having an integrated system that can answer any question would be a huge upgrade. You’d save time, eliminate many errors, and gain the ability to make decisions much more quickly. Those are all good things.

But wouldn’t you be more impressed with a system that could actually show you the future?

Even when you have the richest possible view of the current state of your business, you can only make decisions based on….the current state of your business. When you look to the future, you’ll always be guessing.

That’s where integrated business planning (IBP) comes in. IBP can offer a glimpse of the future to any company that runs a supply chain.

How Scenarios Lead to Better Decisions

If you’re just looking for answers, even a spreadsheet can often give you simple ones. That is why an SCM solution is a huge step forward because it gives you more and better answers, more quickly, with the optimal levels of customer service, inventory levels and cost vs. profit assessment your organization needs to differentiate in today competitive markets.

But if you want to generate scenarios for the future, evaluate your options, and see the likely results of any potential decision, IBP is the way to go.

IBP encompasses many of the same tools and strategies as sales and operations planning (S&OP). It involves integrating supply chain planning capabilities with forecasting tools to develop a reliable understanding of what demand profiles look like across your network, what your customers tend to buy, and how your customers are likely to behave in the months to come.

The benefit of having this kind of visibility is that before you make any critical business decision, you can find out what your sales reps are saying about demand, what your production staff is saying about lead times, and what your distribution staff is saying about inventory levels. You can then incorporate this wisdom into your forecasts for a more realistic view of the future.

But the best IBP solutions go one step further by letting you focus on the profitability of individual customers and items. They contain built-in scenarios that let you predict what would happen if you increased the profitability of a strategic customer account—or plan what you’ll do about unprofitable products that are experiencing a rise in demand.

Demand More than Answers

Capabilities like these are essential in an increasingly complex market. The age of the one-to-one customer relationship is over. Today’s customers can now use the internet to source their products or supplies from a whole host of new vendors around the globe.

In response, your business must be more flexible than ever—and that means choosing the right IBP solution. Demand Solutions offers an IBP platform that’s based on a single data model in which all your applications are resident in SQL. As a result, your replenishment, forecasting, and planning processes can all run off a single database. You’ll maintain the flexibility to update your business strategy on the fly in response to changes in your database.

We’d love to tell you more about how the right IBP solution can give you so much more than just answers. Drop me a line today.