Touchless planning – how to get there

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The benefits of building a touchless planning environment justify the effort, and businesses that approach the challenge systematically and with enthusiasm will reap those rewards.

In previous posts in this series, I have introduced the concept of touchless planning, and summarized its advantages over traditional demand planning. I’ve also looked at how to establish a base on which to build a touchless planning model, and at how to factor in your organization’s culture.

In this, the fourth and final post in the series, I’m going to make some suggestions about the best approach to take on the path to touchless planning.

Creating a framework

The first thing I should say about this path is that it’s circular – not in the sense that you keep winding up back at the start, but in the sense that the process stages are cyclical, enabling the organization constantly to re-evaluate supply and demand within the context of the current plan, so it can identify and respond to issues and opportunities in near real-time each day.

The stages in this cycle include an aggregate planning layer, to maintain a stable execution plan, supporting core planning functions, including demand, supply, and inventory planning. This layer also supports scenario building, to evaluate and fix demand/supply imbalances, and could be orchestrated to act automatically, with limited human evaluation and decision input.

There should also be a cognitive orchestration layer, acting across functional systems and planners to intercept events, including changes in demand, capability, or material availability within the ecosystem. This layer should be able to qualify and evaluate events using machine-learned or rule-based models that drive predictive, prescriptive, or action-based outcomes.

The framework will also need a detailed planning layer, supporting material-requirement planning (MRP) and detailed scheduling for optimized production runs; an execution system, supporting the execution of procurement, production, and inventory-management planning; and, finally, support components, including analytics, forecasts, promotions, and new product planning

Getting started

With this framework in mind, here are seven suggested steps to take towards a touchless planning environment:

  • Create a vision – determine your organizational goals, timeline, and budget, and identify an executive sponsor to champion the cause
  • Establish a solid foundation – assess your master data, inventory-record accuracy, operational disciplines, schedule adherence, and supplier reliability, and launch an enablement program to close gaps and eliminate organizational silos
  • Focus on touchless demand forecasting – identify those SKUs that can be forecast through historical pattern recognition, and use them as a basis from which to phase in touchless planning operations, so as to gain the confidence of wider business stakeholders. With this in place, you will then be able to expand the touchless SKU portfolio, by introducing multiple-variable forecasting techniques
  • Optimize system parameters and instill trust in system-generated plans – measure system “touches,” track their root causes, and systematically eliminate underlying reasons for them. Develop an optimal, executable plan that will be acceptable to the organization’s operations function
  • Move to a more frequent planning cycle – develop and deploy new system capabilities, such as rapid scenario modeling. You can then consider moving to a daily planning cycle, to be more available when, and only when, a response is needed
  • Extrapolate a new planning operating model – establish standard practices for processes, ensure the right talent is in place, and ramp up an effective planning function or control tower around the new client planning capability

What’s next?

In short, when building a touchless planning environment, there’s quite a lot of groundwork to be done, and a number of phases to complete – as we’ve seen not just here, but in the previous posts in this series. As I’ve outlined, though, the benefits justify the effort, and businesses that approach the challenge systematically and with enthusiasm will reap those rewards.

And of course, organizations can always seek the support of knowledgeable, global service providers, who bring with them the rich experience they’ve gained of working on enterprise-level projects of this kind.

If you’d like to start a conversation about the best route your organization can take towards touchless planning, I’d be pleased to hear from you. You’ll find my contact details below.

Read other blogs in this series:

Learn more about how Capgemini’s approach to continuous touchless planning provides a framework for organizations to develop and deploy capabilities and processes across the business to deliver new levels of speed, accuracy, and responsiveness.

To learn more about how Capgemini’s Digital Supply Chain Practice  can help your organization implement a supply-value network and touchless planning across your supply chain, contact: joerg.junghanns@capgemini.com

Jörg Junghanns  leverages innovation and a strategic and service mindset to help clients transform their supply chain operations into a growth enabler.

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