Tracy Cherba

Tracy Cherba

S&OP is such a basic concept, yet so difficult to implement effectively across the globe.  It’s hard enough trying to get one S&OP process created, but how do you go about creating a process that works together across time zones, language barriers and cultural differences?  It’s a journey that takes time, patience and consistency.

Elanco is a world leader in developing products and services that enhance animal health, wellness and performance across the globe.  In order to make sure that everyone understands the impacts of demand and supply decisions around the world, we had to develop a process that would facilitate the communication and decision making process and make sure that the right conversations were taking place at the right time.

I was brought into the role of S&OP Global Leader with the assignment to create a process that would enhance our level of communication, create a consistent process that could be replicated across 5 geographic regions and provide tools / training that would work for all levels of the organization. S&OP is not a new concept to Elanco and has evolved over the years to mean many different things to different people within the company.   The key is working with all of the S&OP levels (Executive, Affiliate, Site, External Manufacturers, etc.) and S&OP participants (SC, Marketing, Finance, Quality, etc) to come up with a process that can work for everyone!

The first thing I did was ask for S&OP packets across the different areas of the organization – examples from a manufacturing site, a sales affiliate and an external manufacturing hub.  Who knew that this request would produce so many inconsistencies?  And in some cases it proved to be impossible to locate the packets at all.  Those packets I did locate, didn’t necessarily tell anyone what needed to be done next but included numerous amounts of slides.  Many of the meetings were long, didn’t include the right people and really didn’t have concrete actions coming out of them.  There were some examples where the S&OP processes were very good and could be replicated to other areas.  Developing a set of tools and training to facilitate the S&OP meetings was a necessary first step.  This includes setting expectations on what metrics will be reviewed, who will participate, what information will be communicated and the timing of the meetings.  It can’t just be left to up to those with “Supply Chain” in their title!

The Elanco S&OP structure includes an Executive level, 5 regions, sales affiliates located all over the world, 5 manufacturing sites and 5 external manufacturing hubs. If we didn’t have the right people in the room with a clear understanding of what the goals were – this was never going to work!  We couldn’t have “part-time” players…  and we HAD to have leadership support throughout all levels of the S&OP structure.

We’ve learned a lot along the way…  The S&OP rollout continues to be a journey that evolves as we learn more.  We’ve learned a valuable lesson along the way that one size does not necessarily fit all.  We’ve also learned that the global nature of this effort means that patience and flexibility need to be your friend!  While S&OP may be a basic concept – creating an S&OP process that people across the globe feel is valuable isn’t so basic!

I will also be elaborating on our Global S&OP Journey at IBF’s Supply Chain Forecasting & Planning Conference, February 24-26, 2013.  Hopefully, we’ll see you there.

Tracy Cherba
Supply Chain Global Leader – S&OP/OSSCE
Elanco Animal Health/ Eli Lilly & Co.