Sales and Operations Planning, as envisioned, was not just a meeting, but a process that included the “heads of state” from the Sales, Operations, Planning, and often, Marketing departments. Armed with information about sales, pricing, forecasts, current production, current on-hand inventory and other data, this informationally well-stocked team could review issues and make decisions for near-term improvements. More strategically, the S&OP process has become the guiding force—what products to launch and when, how much capacity and inventory to invest in, allocation of scarce resources, and other business priorities associated with supply chain.
Decision-making from the S&OP team can address both product offerings and fulfillment challenges. For example, if a product is not selling well, a discount or promotion can be planned. Or the team can decide on an end-of-life strategy. Issues such as shortages and how to prioritize customer orders can be debated and new production plans created.