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The Right Choice
by Chris Gray

The MRP II Standard System by Chris Gray and Darryl Landvater

Sales and Operations Planning Handbook by Don Rice and John Civerolo



Master It (Master Scheduling and Lean Production)


Staying in Business with e-Business


Time to Get Serious About e-Commerce


Does Your Supply Chain Measure Up? 


The Party's Over - The Real Aftermath of Y2K 


Back to Basics


Software and Simplicity


Turning Education Expense into an Investment that Pays Off!


ERP Software: Valuable Tips for Selection and Implementation


Coca-Cola: "Always" Class A 

When The MPS Is MIA ...

Can Lean And Software Co-exist?  

Sales and Operations Planning and Lean Manufacturing

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Which S&OP software packages deliver the best results?

There are a variety of ERP software packages used by companies successful with S&OP.  So by definition, all these various packages "support success", even if they don't specifically have functions for S&OP and leave it to their users to develop or buy S&OP functionality. 

Many companies successful with S&OP today do NOT use any commercial software package or module for S&OP.  Instead they developed their own S&OP functionality based on customized Excel spreadsheets, and Access databases.  Of course this is more a reflection of the historical implementation of these tools, since for many years there were no commercially available software modules for S&OP.  This seems to be changing rapidly as more and more software suppliers claim support for this important function, and the problems with managing an application of this size using spreadsheets becomes more and more obvious. 

However, even today there is no one software package that has a significantly better track record than any other.  More often than not, the critical success factor is not the software tool itself, but rather how effectively a company has implemented both the processes and communications structures to make S&OP work. 

Generally we find the following: 

  • Most ERP systems offer only incomplete tools to support S&OP, but each of them would be the source of the raw data needed for S&OP such as forecasts, production plans, actual sales, inventory and production, etc.
  • More functional S&OP functionality typically exists in “bolt-on” modules, similar to the bolt-on forecasting modules that companies have used since the late 1970’s.  Though we don’t have enough data to endorse any specific set of software tools, there are some software vendors that appear to offer more complete sets of S&OP support tools.  You can find them at the Gray Research website:  http://www.grayresearch.com/sopsoft.htm.

To evaluate commercial S&OP software, the best description of how the basic functionality needs to work can be found in our recent book, The Sales and Operations Standard System.  It includes software templates (reference software) that can be used to complete and effective a given software package might be.  More information on this book and software is available at:

S&OP Standard System    

Over the years, software suppliers have delivered innovative extensions to S&OP functionality.  One specific and recent example is McConnell Chase Software Works. 

For innovative extensions to the standard logic of S&OP, check out McConnell-Chase’s latest release FD7.  While the “Holy Grail” of S&OP software has been the promise of an aggregate sales and supply plan integrated with financial projections, simulation, strategy and business development, many software suppliers have struggled with the basic supply-demand balancing logic of S&OP and can only speculate about S&OP as a true company game plan. 

McConnell-Chase has developed comprehensive S&OP capabilities for make-to-stock, make-to-order and finish-to-order manufacturing environments and incorporated that into their already full function forecasting software.  At the same time, they’ve integrated ground breaking functions for tracking assumptions, events, measurements, scenarios and both expected and actual outcomes into both the demand planning (both detailed and aggregate forecasting) and the supply planning functions of their system.  This kind of functionality exists nowhere else in packaged S&OP software.  

With extensive simulation capabilities, a company can use FD7 to evaluate various of its tactical alternatives and base its future S&OP plans on realistic game plans, consistent with product and market strategies as well as desired financial results.  For any company who wants to be a “learning organization”, there is no better way than learning from past assumptions, events and consequences.  This is the great promise of FD7, and something whose progress we will be following with great interest.   

Chris Gray

Gray Research





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