Thomas F. Wallace, author, speaker, and S&OP pioneer, passed away on March 4, 2021, aged 85.
Having graduated with a degree in psychology from Marquette University and an MBA from Xavier University, Tom entered the world of business operations, taking up roles at Ford Motor Company and Merrel Chemical. He soon forged a successful career as a consultant, driving value through operations management, employing groundbreaking techniques that sought to balance demand and supply. He consulted for Boeing, Guinness, Honda, Microsoft, Pfizer, Pitney-Bowes, Procter & Gamble, and others.
Tom’s contributions to the forecasting and planning fields cannot be overstated. He would go on to write 12 books in the fields of business management, most notably the seminal work Sales & Operations Planning: The How-To Handbook, published in 1999. This book introduced businesses to collaborative, forecast-driven business planning and would define many of the terminology and best practices we rely on today. It is still regarded as a must-have for the planning practitioner.
Tom’s other works include S&OP Planning: The Executive’s Guide, Sales & Operations Planning: Beyond the Basics, Building to Customer Demand, Sales & Operations Planning: The How-To Handbook, Sales Forecasting: A New Approach, and Master Scheduling in the 21st Century. His books have been translated into Chinese, Korean, Italian, French, Russian, Thai, and Portuguese.
Tom once commented, “It’s not balancing demand with supply, but it’s balancing supply with demand”, highlighting something that we now take for granted — that markets had become demand driven, not supply driven, and that successful business planning relies on a forecast. He also famously said, “Good S&OP puts the moose on the table”; in other words, it brings to the surface key planning challenges and with the right process, they can be addressed quickly to the organization’s benefit. These ideas sought to overcome serious challenges of the time; in the 1970, supply chains were going global, consumer behavior was shifting, and demand and supply variability was increasing. Some 40 years later, the concepts and processes he advocated have streamlined operations for thousands of companies worldwide — the savings gained as a direct result of his work are so vast as to be unquantifiable.
His affinity for clearly communicating the nuances of this field saw him in high demand as an educator and speaker. Over his long career, he delivered seminars to over 10,000 executives across the US, Canada, the UK and Australia, and was a much sought-after speaker at conferences around the world, including IBF and ASCM conferences.
As well as a being a prolific writer and a regular speaker, Tom served as the editor of the 4th, 5th, and 6th editions of the APICS Dictionary of Production and Inventory Control Terminology, and as a Distinguished Fellow of The Ohio State University’s Center for Operational Excellence.
He is remembered fondly at the Institute of Business Forecasting for leading Executive S&OP workshops and for his contributions in setting up the annual IBF/ASCM Best of The Best Forecasting, Demand Planning & S&OP Conference, now in its 12th year. Tom also lent his expertise to the Journal of Business Forecasting from 2006 to 2013, writing several articles covering various aspects of the S&OP process.
He is survived by his wife Kathryn, two children, two stepchildren, and thirteen grandchildren.
May he rest in peace.
Donations in his memory can be made to the National Park Foundation, 1500 K Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20005, or WCET, 1223 Central Parkway, Cincinnati, Ohio 45214.