Implementation of Sales and Operation Planning at steel producer

One of the world's larger steel producers needed a more precise alignment of production capacity and sales planning and approached 4Supplychain Consulting. Olivier Berghuis and Valerio Guastella took up this international challenge.

Olivier: “This client has been successful for many years and has acquired a significant market share worldwide. The need was to be able to respond even faster with production to increasingly volatile demand. Valerio and I stepped into this project together six months ago and will soon complete it. Before us, there were others who had already broken their teeth on this challenge. That painted a negative picture at the start and set high expectations.”

What do you mean by that?
Olivier: “S&OP is a critical process for the company, but it didn’t run well. There was a specific top-down approach and S&OP was run by a small group without involving the departments too much. We took a very hands-on approach where we literally sat down next to the people. At the same time, we explained the vision to indicate where the process should go. After a while, we split our focus; Valerio was mainly involved in capacity- and material planning; I focused more on sales forecasting. “

What challenges did you run into?
Valerio: “Because there had already been several projects, it took us some effort to get those involved “again” enthusiastic. In addition, we had to deal with quite a few different cultures. You also have to know and dare to break through the walls that often arise between departments. Getting people to focus multi-functionally on the long term (tactical planning) is what it’s all about. In addition to the knowledge and experience we have, working closely with the people also worked very well. We were able to convince from our expertise.”

How did the process go?
Olivier: “Our key point was to let go of the original top-down approach and made employees at the departmental level owners of their sub-processes. So basically we turned the organization 180 degrees around. We supported people in making analyses, scenarios and planning, and in the next phase we presented these to the board. The big advantage of this bottom-up approach is that you create a huge amount of involvement and the S&OP process is much more broadly supported and more knowledge goes into it.”

What is the result of your intervention? Valerio: “We were able to significantly improve the S&OP platform Anaplan, extend the planning horizon and thus better align production with the forecasts you get from that extended horizon. We have also been able to involve people more in the company’s integrated planning process and enable broad support. Sales, production, marketing, finance, purchasing, IT and supply chain are able to provide much better input into the process. That means a much more efficient business process and higher returns. The team is now trusting their analysis and the system, and with that dares to present recommendations to the board. And that’s what they were all about.”