Struggling with the reality of not being able to easily consolidate data, global telecommunications company Sonus Networks was dealing with delays in understanding the impact of changes to its supply chain plans. The result was difficulty in meeting customer demand in a timely and efficient manner. To combat its planning issues, Sonus took four steps to improve demand, reduce inventory, and share information better across the entire network.
- Connect the Data
Sonus worked to seamlessly connect data from multiple sources, including traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, existing Excel spreadsheets, and even its customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Prior to this data synchronization, it took days to develop forecasts and involved extensive manual data entry and manipulation. Each quarter more than 1,200 line items had to be updated or added to the existing ERP tool just for locked forecasts alone. This resulted in forecasts that were inflexible. Sonus just wasn’t nimble enough to react quickly to actual demand changes, which were happening on an almost daily basis.
Now forecasting takes just hours. When a change does need to be made, instead of holding another meeting, planners can discuss options on the fly, with the most up-to-date data at their fingertips. Data manipulation is now a simple two-step process. No more wasted time manually entering thousands of line items. Its planners have saved about a day’s worth of data entry and collection per week.
- Speed Up S&OP
With faster forecasting came the opportunity for Sonus to speed up its sales and operations planning (S&OP). Historically a very laborious process for the company, finding what needed attention was painful and slow. Asking ‘what-if’ often resulted in the need for subsequent meetings just to determine the possible outcomes.
The S&OP cycle has now become a smooth monthly process, with a high level review involving the executive team. Data-driven conversations are at its heart, and Sonus now has the ability to respond to changes faster with continuous planning, monitoring and responding.
- Validate Opportunities
By importing opportunities from its CRM, Sonus can run different scenarios to ensure it has the necessary supply to meet the potential new demand. Some of the most significant benefits has been to drive projections, which facilitated a decrease in required warehouse space and an overall inventory reduction of 20%.
“Using what-if scenarios allow us to determine almost instantaneously whether or not we’re able to accommodate a change request or potential new order,” says Laure Morgan, S&OP Demand Planning Manager, Sonus. “It provides us with the necessary information to make decisions on whether to change the forecast and build plan at the factory.”
- Tell the Complete Story
By connecting data, speeding up S&OP, and validating market opportunities, Sonus has created the ability to tell the complete supply and demand story. Knowing where the company is, how it got there, and directions it could take in the future is providing a brighter picture. More meaningful conversations are now happening across the company.
“We can get ahead of potential problems and immediately begin talking to sales, operations, product line managers, or anyone else who may be involved, instead of just reacting and communicating the impact after the fact,” Morgan explains.
Combining these four steps has enabled Sonus to improve daily operations in demand and supply management, inventory optimization, and S&OP. It is now able to provide customers with real-time feedback on orders. Sonus has been able to close the loop on its supply and demand plans, allowing for rapid collaborative change management.