Survey reveals IT systems are failing to support Integrated Business Planning and S&OP processes

26 Apr 2023


We are excited to reveal the results of a technology survey, conducted among senior executives from major companies across the Asia Pacific region. The survey which included organizations such as MSD, Black and Decker, Laminex, Mondelez, Coca Cola and L’Oréal, found there is widespread dissatisfaction with the IT systems being used to support effective aggregate, medium to long term, business planning. 

Stuart Harman, partner at Oliver Wight, says, “The unprecedented events of recent years have tested companies to the limit and their very survival has been determined by their ability to respond rapidly to change. The unrelenting disruption has proven beyond doubt, the empirical value of robust planning processes and the skill of those employed to run them. However, as the results of this survey demonstrate, it has also exposed the shortcomings of the IT solutions companies are using to support their planning processes.”

In more than half of cases, the evidence indicates that companies do not even have access to a dedicated planning system. 56 per cent of the senior executives surveyed said they used a combination of different technologies to support their Integrated Business Planning (IBP) or Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process and no fewer than 28 per cent said they were using Excel spreadsheets, often partnered with PowerPoint.

Harman says, “Gathering data from multiple sources not only introduces problems with reconciliation, human error and data accuracy but it also takes a huge amount of time to prepare for monthly plan review meetings. This leaves people with no time or energy to understand what has changed, the impact of change and actions needed to be taken as a result.”

The survey asked respondents to rate the importance of 14 key features of planning systems in supporting S&OP or Integrated Business Planning processes and to compare this with the capability of their own supporting technology. The system features evaluated included, ‘providing one set of numbers’, ‘real-time scenario planning’ and ‘the financial implications of changes to plans’.

The findings showed that for the great majority of respondents, the capability of their own technology is a long way from offering the support they need for the planning features they consider most important. In fact, on average, 20 per cent of respondents rated their in-house systems zero for all 14 elements.

100 per cent of respondents said that ‘access to one set of numbers’ is an important feature of any planning system. This is unsurprising since a single set of numbers is a fundamental component of effective IBP and S&OP, without which the entire planning process is compromised, yet only 32 per cent said their system does this well.

Another feature highlighted by the executives surveyed, was the capability for real-time scenario planning and modelling. 92 per cent of respondents regard this as important. By contrast, a mere seven per cent rated their own system highly for this functionality. 

Harman comments, “Effective Integrated Business Planning is a robust process that needs skilled people who understand their roles within it, but it also relies on good technological support. It is a concern that such a high number of organizations either don’t have a capable system or are not using the one they have in an effective way.”

Survey respondent, Caterina Enters who is the IBP Process Leader at Laminex Australia, says “What we need to gain by technology’s assistance is time. When technology reduces the time we spend in Excel cobbling together presentation decks, the official ‘one set of numbers and KPIs, and then trying to understand RCAs, etc., that’s when we’ll finally be able to truly work on business changing CI and strategy integration.”

To read the full survey report click here.

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