This is the latest post from The Revitas Exchange.

We've been to a lot of events already in 2013, but none of them as unique as SCOPE Spring. Held last week in Atlanta, SCOPE (Supply Chain Operations Private Exposition) Spring is the supply chain industry’s leading executive-level conference.



How to alleviate supply chain pain

As always, the show was well organized and provided some great sessions. But what makes SCOPE so interesting is the format – it’s basically speed dating for the business world.  Exhibitors and attendees have prearranged appointments to discuss pains, problems, and solutions. The catch? They have exactly 25 minutes to do it all!

Twenty-five minutes might seem like a long time, but each of my sessions seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. During the event we met with impressive people from equally impressive organizations and discussed a number of supply-chain topics. But we always seemed to return to one issue: sales and operations planning (S&OP). At its simplest level, S&OP is an integrated decision-making process to align demand and supply.

We heard about struggles with accurate demand planning, the importance of KPI metrics, and the desire to improve forecast accuracy. These issues were a common theme, reaffirming the need for organizations to improve forecast accuracy by validating and analyzing cost-to-serve elements.

Successful supply chain management depends on an accurate forecast and coinciding supply plan, as well as the ensuing management of resources, capacity, and constraints to follow the plan.

In order to drive demand, companies leverage complex incentive and promotional programs in their channels. However, it’s the complexity found in these programs that, in turn, jeopardizes companies’ ability to stay on plan and meet the forecast. It can be a vicious cycle.

During our meetings, we asked companies how it would feel if they could do the following:





  1. Fine-tune demand-shaping initiatives based on actual, real-world results
  2. Better allocate constrained capacity through accurate views of the true impact of incentives
  3. Reduce the instance of excess inventory or rush-related manufacturing or shipping costs
  4. More accurately forecast financial results, due to more accurate incentive accruals

Of course, the responses were enthusiastically positive.

So what do supply chains need to alleviate their struggles? More integration, more data, and more insight through analytics. By integrating systems and processes for pricing and contracting and tying them to incentive management, supply chains can more easily and clearly compare actual results to planned orders and budgets. This leads to more insightful reporting, a clear understanding of the financial impact of incentives, and ultimately a better balance of supply and demand.

Although the unique format of SCOPE could be intimidating at first, it provided us with the opportunity for meaningful exchange with supply chain execs and professionals. It was easy to see how parties on both sides walked away from the experience having heard something new or learned something unexpected. I look forward to my next round of business speed dating!