The newest SAP xApp is designed to help companies overcome long-standing hurdles to achieving operational, sales and financial goals. Built on the SAP NetWeaver platform, SAP xApps tap reusable functions, or “services,” from existing IT systems, enabling and automating innovative processes that improve collaboration among business units and with business partners.
Available in ramp-up for first customers in March 2007, the SAP xApp Sales and Operations Planning (SAP xSOP) composite application will help companies align business units on the best-suited, lowest-risk plan for financial success. The application will enable finance, sales, purchasing and production departments to collect, analyze and track all sales and operations planning (S&OP) data in a central location, dramatically reducing the time information workers spend hunting down data and enhancing information visibility for decision makers.
“Companies often grapple to obtain a consolidated view of all the planning-related data that streams through the spreadsheets and applications used by various departments,” said Andrew White, Research VP, Gartner. “This can result in a disconnect between financial goals, marketing efforts and inventory targets and cause a lot of unnecessary footwork and redundant manual data entry. When all parties in the sales and operations planning value chain – from shop-floor managers on up to the CEO – can base their decisions on a shared, consolidated pool of information, companies can ensure that a single, unified plan is driving the business.”
Drill-downs and dashboards to drive enterprise performance
Leveraging the blueprint of enterprise SOA and the powerful integration and analytics capabilities of SAP NetWeaver, SAP xSOP will connect the relevant planning applications across the system landscape, bringing new levels of flexibility and simplicity to a complex process spanning multiple departments. Each user sees the same S&OP data at the level of detail they need via role-based dashboards. For example, a laundry detergent maker’s sales and marketing directors can use their dashboards to determine the regional campaigns and in-store promotions needed to achieve a monthly million-unit projection; production managers can use the same projection to determine how much detergent will be powdered, how much liquid, and how many tablets to plan for.
Built-in key performance indicators (KPIs) will be available in general categories such as demand, supply, inventory, capacity and budget. Flexibly deployable and simple to use, the application also allows users to easily alter or add new KPIs. “Through the ASUG influence council, SAP has listened to its customers’ needs to fill in process gaps and tranform S&OP into a strategic business driver,” said Randy Isdahl, Supply Planning Manager at Brown-Forman Corporation and influence council member of the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG). “By delivering the enabling software as a flexible and quickly deployable composite application, SAP enables users to maintain their customized views of the planning data they need while leveraging the existing applications in the S&OP process chain.”
SAP xApps – extending business value and software investments
Like all SAP xApps, SAP xSOP is designed not to replace but rather to augment applications that companies may already be running. Developed on the SAP NetWeaver platform by SAP and a growing number of partners, SAP xApps fill gaps in business processes quickly and flexibly, helping companies gain fast return on investment while leveraging their current IT assets. Allowing quick reconfiguration to accommodate new business structures, processes and customer and partner requirements, these composite applications are helping companies across diverse industries respond quickly and profitably to business change across specialized processes such as new product development, compliance with global trade regulations and shop floor to top floor manufacturing integration.
“SAP has designed a comprehensive solution that targets major pain points we hear from customers on their S&OP processes, addressing their integration, process management and data analysis needs,” said Harald Stuckert, senior vice president and general manager of PLM, SCM and Manufacturing at SAP AG. “By offering the solution as a flexible, composite application, we enable customers to quickly deploy important functionality that extends the business value of their existing planning tools from SAP. With SAP xSOP, customers will be able to align multiple departments, applications and business processes to execute a unified ‘right’ plan for business success.” SAP xSOP will be available in March 2007 as a standalone solution and as an extension for mySAP ERP 2005.