Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP)

With supply chain decisions reverberating across the entire business, the outcomes of quality decisions versus mistakes has a direct impact upon service levels, cash flow and profitability.

S&OP can be the difference.


Effective Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) enhances the decision-making quality in a business by providing visibility and allowing for agility in portfolio, demand, supply and logistics management. It is a well-established proven framework; however, many large organisations currently are unable to effectively leverage its benefits.

  • Increasing importance of supply chain responsiveness given trends such as globalisation, product proliferation and channel diversification
  • Misalignment of Supply Chain and Business Strategy, the fallout of this being poor decision quality and lagging demand responsiveness – impacting service levels, cash flow, the innovation cycle and profitability.
  • It is often the nature of functional groups (Sales, Finance, Marketing, Operations and Supply Chain) to focus solely on their respective areas; S&OP is designed to provide each of these groups with broader perspective for decision-making on an ongoing basis.

Supply chain decisions have immediate and direct influence on service levels, cash flow and profitability. Leading organisations recognise this and are better integrating their supply chains with the strategic goals of their business. Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) is a proven methodology organisations turn to, or in many cases reinvigorating to execute this. S&OP, through enhancing responsiveness as well as forward visibility is able to establish sustainable competitive advantage.

In its most basic form, S&OP dictates how the various functions in an organisation work together through structured and regular meetings. More sophisticated S&OP processes instil a culture of accountability and prompt forward thinking in decision-making.


GRA recognises Sales and Operations Planning as a powerful on-going management and performance measurement process that integrates business plans, financial budgets, operational planning and execution.

  • A comprehensive, high-level review of the planning capability (that is the People, Processes, Systems and Data) will be undertaken in order to identify bottlenecks and pinch-points.
  • Identify opportunities for improvement by comparing current activities to industry best practice.
  • The review is to include decision rights, policy, KPIs and roles and responsibilities.
  • Observance of the daily, weekly and monthly S&OP planning cycles as well as the seasonal planning process and how all of these processes are integrated and aligned.

The competitive advantage of S&OP is that it prompts leaders to first get the fundamentals right. In doing so, it is a framework that cultivates accountability and forward thinking through collaboration. Not all organisations can be successful, but chance will always favour the connected organisation.

S&OP should be viewed as a vehicle enabling an organisation to leverage such foundations to transform a good organisation that gets the basics right, into a leading organisation in terms of innovation, service levels, cash-flow and sustainable profitability.

Further information

The Beer Game is a supply chain simulation that lets the players experience the pressures of playing a role in a production/distribution simulation to develop their Supply Chain understanding. GRA regularly run Beer Games for our clients. Find out more on our Training & Education page.



"GRA were very pragmatic in their approach and provided the right balance of guidance ensuring that we still owned the process for ultimate success."

– Shaun Ladhams, Business Planning Manager, Quiksilver

Typical results

  • 20-40% inventory investment reduction
  • increased service levels ranging up to 99.9%
  • 10%-15% reduction in supply chain operating costs
  • 5%-20% spend management savings
  • the ability to fund business initiatives from operating cash flow (OCF) improvements
  • improved return on capital employed (ROCE)
  • a minimum 3:1 ROI (10:1 to 30:1 typical)