Boosting Service and Working Capital Performance through S&OP: A Guide for Australian FMCG Companies

May 15, 2023

Why S&OP is Key for FMCG Companies

In the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, managing service levels and working capital performance efficiently is a delicate balancing act. A crucial tool for achieving this balance is Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP), a process that aligns sales, operations, and finance for optimal business performance. In this post, we explore how Australian FMCG companies can leverage S&OP and other supply chain projects to improve service and working capital performance.

To understand why S&OP is so essential for FMCG companies, let's first examine the challenges these businesses face. FMCG companies deal with tight profit margins, fluctuating demand, complex logistics, and increasing competition. To stay competitive, they need to deliver excellent customer service while managing their working capital effectively.

S&OP is a strategic tool that helps companies balance demand and supply, integrate financial planning and operational planning, and align the company's strategic goals with its execution plans. By implementing S&OP, FMCG companies can improve their service levels, reduce stockouts and overstocks, and optimise their working capital.

How S&OP Improves Service and Working Capital Performance

Here are several ways S&OP and other supply chain projects can enhance service and working capital performance in the Australian FMCG sector:

1. Enhanced Demand Forecasting

S&OP involves a robust demand forecasting process. By accurately predicting customer demand, FMCG companies can ensure they have the right products available at the right time, improving service levels and customer satisfaction. This also reduces the risk of overstocking or understocking, which can tie up working capital unnecessarily.

2. Improved Inventory Management

S&OP allows FMCG companies to optimise their inventory levels. Through efficient inventory management, companies can minimise their capital tied up in stock while ensuring they meet customer demand. This leads to improved working capital performance and better service levels.

3. Streamlined Operations

S&OP aligns sales, operations, and finance, promoting collaboration and communication across departments. This alignment can lead to more efficient operations, lower costs, and faster response times, resulting in improved service levels.

4. Risk Management

S&OP includes risk management strategies, which can help FMCG companies anticipate and prepare for supply chain disruptions. This readiness can improve service levels during challenging times and protect the company's working capital.

Implementing S&OP in FMCG

Implementing S&OP in an FMCG company involves several steps, including setting up a cross-functional S&OP team, defining the S&OP process, implementing a supporting technology system, and regularly reviewing and adjusting the S&OP plan.

Successful S&OP implementation requires commitment from the top management, as well as participation from all levels of the organisation. The process should be customer-focused, flexible, and driven by accurate data.

In the competitive Australian FMCG landscape, optimising service levels and working capital performance is key to success. By implementing S&OP and other supply chain projects, FMCG companies can align their operations, manage their inventory more effectively, and forecast demand more accurately.

The journey towards effective S&OP is a strategic investment that requires time and commitment. However, the rewards - improved service, optimised working capital, and a more resilient business - make it a worthwhile endeavour for Australian FMCG companies.

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