“Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh…”
How many of you started to sing then? Yes, the festive period is fast approaching and the biggest and best supply chain in the world is almost ready to activate. This is always the most efficient supply hain whatever those nice chaps at Gartner may say.
There is no way Santa Claus could achieve his annual success without sticking rigidly to an S&OP process, i.e. Santa & Opening Presents.
The process starts every year on the 26th December just as children start to play with the empty packaging instead of their much sought after gifts. Their engorged parents lounge sleepily in front of the television watching The Great Escape or Jason & the Argonauts – again! The loyal Elves are given their end of season bonus and packed off back to Eleveden Forest in Suffolk. Didn’t you know that is where they live for most of the year?
Before January is over those lovely people who design toys and games quickly introduce new and more exiting models which will become must-haves for countless girls and boys. Toy shops are visited and millions of children quietly note those presents they would like Santa to bring them the following. The demand slowly builds until it is time to bring the Elves back from Suffolk on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – no coincidence there! The first job for the Elves is to get the huge Christmas factory ready to run once again.
In parallel with this, millions of children around the world unzip their pencil cases with a purpose. Using their best handwriting they tell Santa they have all been well behaved this year and then list all the presents they would like to receive. This accumulated unconstrained demand allows the Elf factory to start fixing production plans to meet a deadline that is set in stone. Is there a more peakier peak period?
Money does not grow on trees so “Santa” must quickly check what can be afforded from the budget. Remember, the wish lists are always too long and you do not want 100% Customer Service – keep “em hungry”, I say. The Pre-S&OP takes place with all stakeholders involved to ensure everything is ready to go. You want to avoid stock-outs just as much as you need to avoid expensive write-offs.
After necessary adjustments are made to the planned volumes by SKU, the final S&OP takes place. Bearded Santa is fully dressed in his best red uniform and takes his seat. If Pre-S&OP actions have not been carried out, then there is unlikely to be much “Yo Ho Ho-ing”. Fortunately, everyone is in agreement and the final set of child and associated gift numbers is rubber-stamped. Everyone involved in the Christmas S&OP must operate on the same set of numbers or somebody will be disappointed.
The big day comes and Rudolph leads the reindeers in pulling the delivery sleigh across the world in a complex logistical challenge. Santa makes sure all the presents are delivered on time before little heads lift from pillows to wake parents at 4am! (Well, I did.)
“Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight”
Before you know it, there we are again on 26th December and the same robust and reliable S&OP cycle starts once more. See you next year Santa Baby!
Image courtesy of Enchange Ltd at Enchange.com