This is a highly specialized position that typically requires up to 10 years of planning experience within supply chain. Given current trends and supply chain volatility, this experience should also include lots of exposure to the latest planning and operations technologies.
Top-tier companies that are successful in meeting demand with supply and maximizing profitability more than likely have a Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process. S&OP has developed into a major business process that manages the balance between conflicting preferences of the supply and demand side of the supply chain. It is one of the most important business processes used to achieve “best in class” performance for global multinationals or even domestic operations organizations.
The S&OP process is a forward-thinking plan that integrates demand, supply, and financial planning into a schemata based on input from the organization’s key functional areas. These areas include sales, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, and finance. S&OP links strategic plans to operational plans and strives to develop the most beneficial product portfolio and product mix to maximize sales and profit. The best S&OP processes include world-class cross-functional participation. The S&OP Director oversees the entirety of the S&OP process and ensures a seamless operation and cross-functional communications process.
Once a candidate reaches this level in supply chain, leadership becomes much more of an emphasis. After all, the supply chain is people.
There are many required skills for an S&OP Director. The ability to work across silos with people from different areas to communicate common goals, solicit information, and gain consensus and buy-in seems to be one of the most important. The Director will ensure that all team members are operating in this manner as well. Earning respect from the team members and building trust is critical in breaking down silo walls.
The S&OP Director is the subject matter expert for demand planning, network optimization, and capacity planning while supporting various projects including monthly demand plans, consumption models, network and production strategy optimization, integration of new businesses, and new product launches. This leader also facilitates each S&OP meeting to ensure the team is focused on the plan. The S&OP Director may also need to lead technical initiatives to improve data analysis such as implementing planning software. Reporting to the Head of Sales & Operations Planning, the role is a key function to deliver an ongoing commercial review process and expedite the transformational steps required by the Kearney review.
A Sales and Operations Planning Director needs to have a depth of knowledge in all areas of supply chain such as demand planning, supply planning, and inventory planning. An S&OP Director must have excellent communication skills in order to work with different stakeholders in the areas that are integral to meeting the company’s goals.
Being organized and having strong facilitative skills are important in leading members of the team in monthly meetings and communicating with upper management. Leadership and interpersonal skills are necessary to drive results in fast-paced and demanding environments. Making decisions in keeping strategies and tactics aligned with the goals of customer satisfaction, profitability, inventory, lead times, and working capital. Central to this role are both the ability to analyze needs based on capacity and capability as well as the ability to develop solutions where there are problematic issues.
The Sales & Operations Planning Director’s day is definitely not boring. The role is focused on gathering and analyzing data used to forecast the proper deployment of resources. A large part of the day is spent on planning, managing, and controlling a portfolio of products from forecasting and demand to plant output in order to support commercial, financial, and operational plans.
Any day may find the Director working with manufacturing sites in developing appropriate fulfillment models that are adaptive and scalable, anticipating future business requirements. In meeting this objective, the S&OP Director may find part of his/her day interacting with Directors working in manufacturing and supply chain areas. An important task involves analyzing supply constraints and identifying innovative solutions to quickly resolve them. He/she is always communicating and in problem-solving mode.
So many areas at a company come into play when planning sales and operations–areas like sales, marketing, manufacturing, inventory, and finance. The S&OP Director has meetings constantly with these different areas to communicate, get information, and facilitate reviews. Any day can find the S&OP Director gathering data from these areas and analyzing it for current status, future needs, and forecasting for demand. He/she is continually utilizing software that presents leading indicators and data analytics when aligning with financial plans, minimizing back orders, and positioning inventories to meet targeted customer service levels.
The S&OP Director works inside either in an office, in meeting rooms, on a manufacturing floor, or in a warehouse. Director-level personnel often have to travel up to 20% annually in order to personally engage with relevant stakeholders.
Using technology for S&OP improves and streamlines the process by smoothing out unreliable data, information silos, and scheduling challenges, all of which can make planning difficult. Many cloud-based technologies like collaboration tools and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software are commonplace. Analytics tools turn data into actionable insights for demand forecasting, price management, inventory management, scenario modeling, and market trend analysis.
Collaboration tools like Slack, Basecamp and Office 365 are also popular technology enablers for S&OP. These tools improve productivity and give leaders quicker insight into resource availability.
Salaries for S&OP Directors have a wide range based on the size of the company, geographic location, and experience level. Salaries can range from $117,000 to $176,000 with a median of about $147,000.
Benefits are a complete package with an S&OP Director position, including: