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What is the role of collaboration in Supply Chain? By definition, the Supply Chain mobilizes a large number of different actors and professions. To be efficient, it must organize the collaboration between all its stakeholders: Sales, marketing, finance, purchasing, production…
In the APICS literature, the maturity of a supply chain is made up of 4 levels. To reach the 4th level, named “Extended Enterprise”, collaboration must be at the heart of the company and spread to its partners. Indeed, a company is considered at level 4 when it integrates its network with those of its partners, in order to improve the efficiency and quality of its products and services.
Even if APS like SAP APO were the first step to implement collaboration both internally and externally, the collaborative functionalities remained limited, cumbersome to implement and not very user-friendly. This lack of a dedicated collaboration brick is now over. This subject, so often ignored in the past and acting as a brake on the development of the Supply Chain of companies, is now in full revolution. There is now a plethora of tools on the market. This is particularly true in the SAP ecosystem, with SAP IBP which is not left behind in terms of collaborative functionalities.
This application allows you to model a business process (S&OP, Demand Planning,…) in SAP IBP and to follow its progress. Each of these processes consists of steps and tasks to be performed. Closely linked to SAP JAM, the Process Management application can inform all participants in the process of its progress and notify them of the tasks to be performed.
A power of this application is the possibility to launch a calculation at the beginning or at the end of each step. This calculation can be of any type such as a cleaning of outliers, an algorithm, the populating of a data, …
A Gantt chart allows to get an overview of the process (steps by process, tasks by steps, progress of each step, …).
One of the most useful applications for internal and external collaboration is called “Web based planning”. This Fiori application allows stakeholders (sales representatives, suppliers and customers), whose involvement is less important but essential, to enter their data on easy-to-access and ergonomic interfaces. This application greatly facilitates the collection of essential information for good planning and is a first step in extending collaboration to external partners. One of the perfect examples is the possibility to retrieve data directly from the different points of sale.
These 2 applications perfectly illustrate the new direction of SAP and the contributions of the new technologies that SAP promotes.
Finally, SAP does not stop there. Its main strength being based on integrated systems, it easily accompanies companies to reach level 4 of Supply Chain maturity. Indeed, SAP IBP integrates natively with the ERP ECC or S/4HANA, but can also be interconnected with all the solutions of the SAP portfolio (SAC, C4C, BW, …). This is the case, for example, with the SAP ARIBA solution (purchasing management solution), which allows to extend the collaboration to its suppliers, thus allowing to have a fully integrated collaborative Supply Chain.