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Press release

Collaboration: the key to supply chain success

Published on 06/01/2021

What role does collaboration play in the supply chain? By definition, the Supply Chain mobilizes a large number of different players and professions. To be successful, it must organize collaboration between all its stakeholders: Sales, marketing, finance, purchasing, production…

Technology for supply chain collaboration

In the supply chain, there are two types of collaboration: internal and external. Internal collaboration is the very essence of the Supply Chain. In fact, it’s a cross-functional service that facilitates the sharing of information between the company’s main functions. The perfect example is the S&OP process, also known as PIC, the aim of which is to bring all the players together to draw up a single tactical plan accepted by all the company’s major departments (sales, marketing, finance, purchasing and production).

At the end of the 90s, Advanced Planning Systems (APS) were introduced, offering more advanced functionalities than MRP and providing better coverage of Supply Chain processes. These tools have helped to optimize supply chain processes and increase companies’ maturity in these areas, notably by integrating data from outside the company.

In the APICS literature, supply chain maturity is divided into 4 levels. To reach the 4th level, dubbed “Extended Enterprise“, collaboration must be at the heart of the company, and spread to its partners. A company is considered to be at level 4 when it integrates its network with those of its partners, with the aim of improving the efficiency and quality of its products and services.

SAP Integrated Business Planning boosts collaboration

Although APSs such as SAP APO were the first step towards establishing both internal and external collaboration, collaborative functionalities remained limited, cumbersome to implement and not very user-friendly. This lack of a dedicated collaboration brick is now a thing of the past. This subject, so often overlooked in the past and acting as a brake on companies’ Supply Chain development, is now in the midst of a revolution. There is a plethora of tools on the market today. This is particularly true in the SAP ecosystem, with SAP IBP not lagging behind in terms of collaborative functionalities.

Indeed, since the creation of SAP IBP in 2012, the publisher has offered SAP JAM as a collaboration tool.

SAP JAM is a comprehensive, feature-rich enterprise social network (ESN). There are about twenty of them, such as :

It stands out from other CSRs thanks to its very close connectivity with SAP IBP. In fact, SAP JAM is fully integrated with SAP IBP interfaces (Fiori and Excel), enabling fast, fluid collaboration. At any time, the user can share a view, a dashboard or even comment on a modification.

Beyond SAP JAM and through applications, SAP IBP offers functionalities dedicated to collaboration. Some of these applications are connected to SAP JAM.

Today we’re going to take a look at Procces Management and Web-based planning, among many other applications.

Process Management

This application lets you model a business process (S&OP, Demand Planning, etc.) in SAP IBP and track its progress. Each of these processes is made up of steps and tasks to be carried out. Closely linked to SAP JAM, the Process Management application can inform all process participants of the status of the process, and notify them of tasks to be carried out.

One of the powerful features of this application is the ability to launch a calculation at the beginning or end of each step. This calculation can be of any type, such as outlier cleaning, an algorithm, data populating, etc.

A Gantt chart provides an overview of the process (steps by process, tasks by step, progress of each step, etc.).

Web based planning

One of the most useful applications for both internal and external collaboration is called “Web-based planning“. This Fiori application enables stakeholders (sales staff, suppliers and customers), whose involvement is less important but essential, to enter their data via easy-to-access, ergonomic interfaces. This application makes it much easier to gather the information essential to good planning, and is the first step in extending collaboration to external partners. A perfect example of this is the ability to retrieve data directly from the various points of sale.

These 2 applications are a perfect illustration of the new direction SAP is taking, and of the new technologies SAP is promoting.

And SAP doesn’t stop there. Its main strength is based on integrated systems, making it easy to help companies achieve Level 4 Supply Chain maturity. SAP IBP integrates natively with ERP ECC or S/4HANA, but can also be interconnected with all the solutions in the SAP portfolio (SAC, C4C, BW, etc.). This is the case, for example, with the SAP ARIBA solution (purchasing management solution), which extends collaboration to suppliers, enabling a fully integrated collaborative supply chain.