S&OP in Anaplan is live planning. Creating plans, adjusting them, monitoring execution and analysing have moved to an online format. Of course, this is a new approach to work and a big change for those involved. On the one hand, online work is convenient when you need to work remotely during the quarantine. On the other hand, Covid-19 significantly complicated the platform's fine-tuning after the launch, as the entire plan for user training and support in six countries had to be adjusted to reflect the realities.
However, this situation did not hinder the development of the platform in the company - from day one after commissioning we started receiving requests for extending and deepening the implemented functionality. For me, this is an important indicator of success: it means that employees see the value of the platform for their work and think about its development. The company sees the positive effect of the implementation and further potential for developing the S&OP system and related processes.
URALCHEM – one of the world leaders in producing mineral fertilizers. The group includes production and logistics assets, port terminals and trading houses. The company supplies its products to all continents, and since 2016 it has been developing its own dealer network.
With production and sales volumes growing, the volatility in the mineral fertilizer market increased, and having a strategic focus on digitalisation, the company has faced the challenge of improving the quality of planning, modernising and automating planning processes and monitoring the plan execution.
There are more than 100 people from different functions in the 8 Group companies involved in the Uralchem processes. Before the project, the work was constrained by the need to create and maintain many disparate Excel files, by the lack of a single up-to-date version of the plan, and an unstructured exchange of files by e-mail. There was a lack of efficiency in approving the plan and manual planning errors were taking place.
As the process was mostly maintained manually (more than 2000 Excel spreadsheets per year), it was not up to the challenges the company was facing. This highlighted the need for a unified sales and operations planning management tool based on a modern and flexible IT platform. Anaplan was chosen upon analyzing relevant IT-systems and their evaluation by a number of criteria and Advanced was chosen as an implementation partner.
The implementation of the Anaplan platform was divided into two parts: first an operational planning process for sales and production on a one-month horizon was launched, then the solution was supplemented by an annual business planning process and monitoring the operational plan execution and analytical reports.
For the trading houses and the production function, scenario planning functionality was implemented for the changes in production and/or sales, with the ability to estimate changes in output and margins relating to the plan.
As part of the operational planning, optimisation algorithms were consistently implemented using the Anaplan Optimizer tool. These algorithms calculate, under the existing assumptions and constraints, optimal plans for sales and shipments for a period of one month, and production for an up to one day. The calculation takes less than 5 minutes. This functionality allows users to select the most marginal sales and production schedule, load the capacities to 100% and fix the intra-group consumption requirements. Using the built-in calculations, the resulting plans are assessed for feasibility, including the availability of the railcar fleet and port transhipment capacities.
The process of collecting information on production, sales and shipments actuals (both within the planning period and at the end of it) was set up and standardised, and integrations with the relevant corporate IT systems were implemented.
In addition, the Workflow functionality was launched to break down the plan creation process in Anaplan into specific tasks and steps. Prior to the start of a step, each employee receives an email notification with instructions and deadlines, and comments from performers and future tasks for the processes are available for viewing in the system.