When it comes to managing supply chain volatility, visibility, and regulation, (not to mention trying to do all of the above while keeping costs low), supply chain managers are up against a number of challenges. These pressures have them looking for innovative ways to refine how they forecast and manage demand with new technology. This is where SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO) comes in.
Read on to learn more what SAP APO is and how SAP Demand Planning and Forecasting tools can help optimize supply chain management in your organization.
What is SAP APO Demand Planning?
SAP APO is one of the most essential components of the SAP Supply Chain Management (SCM) solution. A suite of supply chain planner applications, APO helps improve the supply chain process by providing forecasting, planning, and optimization, and one of its most popular components is SAP APO Demand Planning (DP).
SAP APO allows employees to use customized planning layouts and interactive planning modules to build a demand plan that integrates the functions of different departments and companies into the supply chain forecasting process. The SAP DP tool gives users the opportunity to create forecasts and demand plans that paint a picture of total market demand for company goods and services and identify the best ways to meet and withstand that demand.
Benefits of SAP Demand Planning
SAP DP’s advanced forecasting functionality makes it easier than ever for supply chains to stay competitive and respond to dynamic market conditions. Of course, the application has plenty of other benefits that can improve supply chain planning and manufacturing operations in terms of data accuracy, system integration, and overall efficiency. Here are a few of the other main features of the application that can benefit your organization:
- It can predict market demands for your products.
- It’s highly flexible, enabling the demand planning process within any kind of business.
- Thanks to advanced statistical demand forecasting and sophisticated macro techniques, it’s easy for anyone (even non-technical folks) to create forecasts based on demand history.
- Promotions and forecast overrides add marketing intelligence and enable management adjustments.
SAP DP Integration Capabilities
Just like SAP’s other applications and modules, SAP DP comes with built-in integration capabilities that make connecting it to other tools and systems a lot easier. Let’s take a closer look at the two main integrations for SAP DP.
Integration within the APO System
First, integration with other components of the APO system allows SAP DP to install SAP Business Intelligence (BI) queries from the SAP SCM system, simplifying reports and keeping track of critical processes through every step of the supply chain. These integration capabilities also give users a comprehensive picture of demand throughout the organization, offering better insight into production and distribution and how that affects demand plans.
Integration with External Systems
Second, the Data Warehousing Workbench allows users to load data into SAP DP from the SAP ERP system, an SAP BI system, an external system, or a flat file. This way, both planned and actual data from your SAP systems or any other system files can be accessed through a single web-based interface. Integrations between SAP DP and other applications and systems give managers and employees an opportunity to build forecasts and demand plans together – making advanced planning and optimization of your supply chains more effective in the long run.
Challenges and Solutions With SAP DP
Now, just because your company has a powerful tool like this at its disposal doesn’t mean it’s making the most of it. In order to perform accurate forecasts, your SAP Demand Planning module needs to be working correctly. Here are a few of the most common issues we’ve seen supply chain managers face when working with SAP DP, as well as how partnering with industry experts can help solve those challenges.
Lack of employee buy-in or use of the application
If you want to get the most out of your SAP software, your employees need to know how to use it effectively. In addition to assisting with proper training, senior-level SAP consultants have the expertise to set up just the right customizations and integrations so that your application’s user experience works with your employees, not against them.
Problems with SAP DP’s complex features
While basic supply chain best practices are the same from company to company, your specific organization has its own unique needs. And, while SAP’s out-of-the-box functionality will probably be a decent fit, why not bring in an implementation partner to tailor the solution to fulfill your supply chain goals?
And if you’ve already implemented SAP DP, no problem! A quality consultant can help you optimize your solution to ensure you’re making the most of its complex features and functionality.
SAP DP isn’t performing properly or delivering inaccurate forecasts
There are many factors that could lead to problems with DP performance and accuracy, but in most cases, we’ve found they often boil down to two main issues:
- Improper implementation
- Software that hasn’t been updated in a while
Either way, bringing on a consultant who understands SAP methodology can help. Thanks to their years of real-world implementation experience, there are few kinds of challenges they haven’t encountered. Plus, a quality SAP consultant understands the value of thorough testing and updating to ensure that DP functions properly.
Using only limited functionality of SAP DP
As with any kind of software, certain aspects of DP aren’t exactly intuitive, which means that you or your team probably won’t start off knowing everything it can do. An SAP consultant, however, has a firm grasp of all those exceedingly useful features that could take you years to uncover, and what’s more, they’re happy to share them with you.
Not having established goals for the solution
Let’s say you’ve done your research and you know exactly what you want to get out of DP. But we have two questions for you. First, have you set any concrete goals for what you want the application to achieve? Second, have you shared them across your organization? Obviously, strategic goals are vital for any business, but a qualified consultant can help guide you on that journey so everyone knows how to make sure the solution is meeting expectations.
Getting Started With Demand and Supply Planning in SAP APO
Expertly build your demand plan and execute your supply chain management process and solution by partnering with the experts. Our senior-level SAP consultants can help you fine-tune your supply chain goals, improve implementations, optimizations, integrations, and make the most of everything SAP DP has to offer.
Need help navigating through your demand planning cycle or building a detailed scheduling plan within your SAP system? Whether your needs lie in specific SAP APO modules or in any other SAP application, our consultants have the skills and experience to handle it all.
Even better, we’ve included a sample profile of one of our SAP Advanced Planning consultants to give you a better idea of what to expect when partnering with us.
Surety Senior SAP Demand Planning Consultant
- US Citizen
- 24+ years of SAP SCM experience
- Expert in the Sales and Distribution/Supply Chain Management modules
- Excels with designing, implementing, and supporting SCM (APO) GATP and Demand Planning (DP) processes
- Well-versed with Demand Planning, Supply Network Planning (SNP) and Global Availability to Promise (GATP), Core Interface (CIF)
- Substantial SAP S/4HANA experience
Contact us today to learn how we can help you roll out the right tools for supply chain success.