I’ve arrived at the SAP Insider sponsored Logistics and Supply Chain conference here in Orlando and was pleased to observe lots of attendees from many different organizations. This combined SCM-PLM-Manufacturing conference attracted 1700 registrants and it appears by my eye that most have arrived.

Today’s sessions were jam packed.  In addition this morning’s keynote address delivered by Richard Campione, SAP’s Senior Vive President for Suite Solution Management, I managed to sit-in on a number of informative sessions throughout the day.

In one session, Transforming your internal and external manufacturing operations into an integrated responsive network, Michael Lipton of SAP provided a detailed overview of the SAP’s end-to-end process deployment functionality addressing manufacturing network planning and execution.  SAP had embarked on a two-year effort to develop and implement cross-application support offerings that are tied to broad end-to-end processes such as manufacturing network planning.  It was interesting for this author to finally get a look at how the various SCM and manufacturing application components have been integrated in various scenarios to support network planning, outsourced manufacturing or material supply and replenishment.  In this presentation, Mike also touched upon the brand new offering of SAP Supply Chain Response Management, a termed solution extension that utilizes certain what-if planning and rapid response capabilities from third-party provider ICON-SCM.  There has not been a tremendous amount of external communication regarding this new extension, which now appears on the SAP price listing and includes dedicated SAP level one and two support. I was somewhat surprised at the amount of initial integration that has already been incorporated to SAP APO SNP.  Mike has a more detailed presentation scheduled later in the week should draw a lot of attendance.  Some SAP customers may be initially confused as to whether SCRM overlaps in functionality with SAP Supply Network Collaboration (SNC).  I managed to get some clarity to that question which will be outlined in a later commentary regarding my one-on-one interviews with SAP executives.

One other interesting observation from today was in attending a featured discussion forum: How to leverage S&OP to improve demand and supply planning.   I unfortunately arrived late and discovered standing-room only attendance for this session, which is yet more evidence of how top-of-mind the topic of S&OP has become in the supply chain community.  A lot of the interaction was focused on challenges in bringing together cross-functional inputs within an S&OP process and the different challenges within some process vs. discrete industry environments. There was also a useful interchange on how important is forecast accuracy, with the majority of this session’s participants leaning toward good enough, is good enough.  Once you have the best available forecast, concentrate on responsive means to adjust to changing business re-planning and adjustment needs.

Supply Chain Matters will provide ongoing commentary from the SAP Insider SCM conference so stay tuned for further updates.

Bob Ferrari