Skip to main content Skip to Footer


April 11, 2016
What's next for S&OP?
By: Jay Jayaraman, Dinesh Natarajan, Mike Romeri & Tom Zych

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is a process that has been deployed primarily to align different functions around the best plan they could identify, working together as collaboratively as possible. Many standard and emerging analytic techniques can be employed to supercharge performance and optimize S&OP decision making.

S&OP is not a new process and has been used widely across industries for many decades. Most practitioners would probably accept the following definition of S&OP:

“A process focused on ensuring a continuous alignment between demand, inventory, supply and manufacturing plans on the one hand, and between these tactical plans and the business plan on the other hand, in order to maximize operational performance”

Unfortunately, the goal of continuous alignment is more of an aspiration than a realizable objective for most organizations. There can be many reasons for a lack of alignment, and these reasons fall into a number of categories related to data, IT, business process, and organizational challenges. Some companies truly embrace S&OP at a deep level, fully enable the process analytically and provide practitioners with all necessary data sources. These advanced capabilities, considered as a whole, are sometimes referred to as Integrated Business Planning (IBP).

One significant challenge that has remained extremely difficult to overcome has been accurate forecasting; it is the most significant driver of supply chain costs, complexity and performance issues. Analytics can help companies significantly improve their understanding and use of demand data to guide S&OP decision making and performance.

There are different analytic techniques that can significantly improve S&OP capabilities and help optimize enterprise performance; they are, as follows:

  • Supply Chain Planning: optimizes revenue or profits by balancing demand and supply within current constraints and capacities

  • Network Optimization: optimizes revenue or profit by determining network flow and sometimes positioning of facilities thus reducing cost-to-serve

  • Multi-echelon Inventory Optimization (MEIO): reduces working capital by taking and end-to-end view of inventory requirements, thus positioning inventory in the most efficient way in the supply chain, while balancing service levels and cost

  • Advanced Demand Forecasting: improves forecast accuracy taking into account exceptional conditions

  • Demand Shaping: leverages pricing to shape demand to optimize revenue and profits 


It is not surprising that Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is experiencing a renewed interest within many companies. The incorporation of more analytic techniques into the process provides a true renaissance for S&OP. The companies who move quickly to deploy these new techniques can achieve a significant competitive advantage.

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions—underpinned by the world's largest delivery network—Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 373,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at

Accenture Digital, comprised of Accenture Analytics, Accenture Interactive and Accenture Mobility, offers a comprehensive portfolio of business and technology services across digital marketing, mobility and analytics. From developing digital strategies to implementing digital technologies and running digital processes on their behalf, Accenture Digital helps clients leverage connected and mobile devices; extract insights from data using analytics; and enrich end-customer experiences and interactions, delivering tangible results from the virtual world and driving growth. Learn more about Accenture Digital at


About Accenture Analytics

Accenture Analytics, part of Accenture Digital, delivers insight-driven outcomes at scale to help organizations improve their performance. With deep industry, functional, business process and technical experience, Accenture Analytics develops innovative consulting and outsourcing services for clients to help ensure they receive returns on their analytics investments. For more information follow us @ISpeakAnalytics and visit

This document makes descriptive reference to trademarks that may be owned by others. The use of such trademarks herein is not an assertion of ownership of such trademarks by Accenture and is not intended to represent or imply the existence of an association between Accenture and the lawful owners of such trademarks.

This blogpost is produced by consultants at Accenture as general guidance. It is not intended to provide specific advice on your circumstances. If you require advice or further details on any matters referred to, please contact your Accenture representative.

Popular Tags

    More blogs on this topic