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Agile planning has always been critical for any manufacturing business, but in today’s volatile markets with soaring inflation and supply challenges, it is more important than ever. Imagine having granular data in your demand forecasts broken into your BOMs, enabling you to model supply options such as make vs buy as well as helping to decide where to manufacture products to best utilise machine capacity and workforce availability.

These possibilities were explored at a recent roundtable where The Manufacturer gathered a dozen leading manufacturing businesses, with speakers from our customer Autoliv, our partner OneStream, and inlumi.

The event centred around how organisations increasingly need joined up — and real time — operational and financial information across the business. It is no longer good enough to have a different financial plan and forecast from your operational, workforce or marketing plan if you want to maximise ROI. By bringing cross-functional data together into a single platform, you can make better decisions — from whether to make or buy products, to capex investment decisions.

Dennis Popma, Director of Strategic Projects and Transformation Lead at Autoliv, joined the event to share his own story of introducing xP&A (extended planning and analysis) to his business. He stressed the importance of preparation in order to build the business case and get senior management buy-in at Autoliv. Having the C-level steering committee behind the programme, Autoliv started their transformation one year ahead of the actual technology implementation, reflecting on and learning from past pain points and clearly outlining future benefits from the transformation. He underlined the importance of identifying key resources from within the business to join the programme and bring business knowledge about current processes, data and the technology landscape of the legacy systems.

One major theme of the roundtable was data governance and how to improve data quality. Described by one attendee as “the new cross-functional value stream of our organisation”, everyone present agreed that putting in place clear ownership for data, to both incentivise and control “right first time” data entry was a vital first step to improve data quality.

Another widely agreed point was that, when thinking about going on an xP&A journey, it makes sense to consider what alignment of policies, procedures and timetables can be done ahead of the full process and system transformation. By doing this, the organisation can get used to one way of working ahead of the broader transformation.

Unsurprisingly, the single biggest worry on everyone’s minds was the current fluctuations in the external market which were impacting every attendee’s business. Particularly acute problems were described as the ‘perfect storm’ of issues in sourcing raw materials and sub-components, rapidly changing demand and supply prices — all compounded by talent shortages. There are no easy answers, but by at least having company-wide data in a platform where you can see and understand these problems, and quickly be able to scenario plan to test different options, an organisation can make informed choices on how to respond.

Overall, the event was a real eye opener to the power of data and the need for cloud platform technologies like OneStream to synthesise and extrapolate information for Manufacturing businesses.

Clients like Autoliv are seeing the real benefits of getting this right – from deeper insight into profits to better resource usage. Start your xP&A journey now.

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