TF Wallace & Company is the leading source for education and training resources on Sales & Operations Planning. Here you will find valuable information to help you be successful with this powerful process.

So what is S&OP? How does it work, and how do you make it better? Our library of books and videos by Tom Wallace and Bob Stahl will guide you through S&OP best practices from the basics to the boardroom. The materials are written in a clear and easy-to-understand format.

About the Authors

Tom Wallace

Tom Wallace is a writer and educator specializing in Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), and is recognized as a Distinguished Fellow at Ohio State University’s Center for Operational Excellence.

Tom is the author and co-author of over a dozen books, including the two best-selling books in the S&OP field: Sales & Operations Planning: The How-To Handbook and Sales & Operations Planning: The Executive’s Guide.

Tom has developed and taught a variety of workshops to over 10,000 executives, managers and specialists at professional, industry and corporate session in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Japan. During his consulting career, he has worked with Boeing, Guinness, Honda, Microsoft, Pfizer, Pitney-Bowes, Procter & Gamble and Verizon, among many others.

Bob Stahl

Bob Stahl is an Executive S&OP expert, coach, author and educator. He has worked with some of the world’s finest companies, including Dentsply, Dow Chemical, Textron Lycoming, Graco, V&M Star, Crosman, Calphalon, Jarden, Sanford and KVH Industries.

Bob has more than thirty years of manufacturing experience, giving him a unique ability to influence operational excellence. Since leaving the industry, Bob has helped many companies in varied environments make similar improvements in their performance, crafting an implementation methodology that is low-cost, low-risk, high-impact and with quick results. This approach is explained in several of the six books Bob has co-authored with Tom.

Bob holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Villanova Univeristy and is certified (CPIM) by the American Product and Inventory Control Society (APICS).

For further information, please reach out to Bob Stahl below:

(508) 226-0477

Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) 101

Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) is a set of decision-making processes to balance demand and supply, to integrate financial planning and operational planning, and to link high-level strategic plans with day-to-day operations.

Why Do Companies Use S&OP?

Many companies have difficulty in establishing valid game plans for sales, production, procurement, and inventory levels  and then tying them to day-to-day scheduling and execution. As a result, performance suffers: customer service is poor, production and procurement are inefficient, inventories are too high or too low, or all of the above.

Sales & Operations Planning has emerged as an essential management tool in this age of rapid change, increasingly demanding customers, and supply chains that extend half a world away. It's rightfully been called "top management's handle on the business."

What is Executive S&OP?

Executive S&OP is top management's part of the overall set of Sales & Operations Planning processes. It's a tool that enables the top management team to establish in advance the desired levels of customer service, inventory investment, and customer order backlogs — and then manage the business proactively to achieve those targets.

An important point: Executive S&OP, which focuses on aggregate volumes, is essential to gain the maximum benefits from the other parts of Sales & Operations Planning, the ones that address the details (Master Scheduling, Plant and Supplier Scheduling, Distribution, and other types of detailed planning and coordination).

The results from the monthly Executive S&OP process drive downward to impact directly the day-to-day activities in Sales, Purchasing, Production, and Distribution  and also drive upward, so that the company's Financial Plans can reflect current realities and future operational plans.

What are the Benefits of Using S&OP?

"Hard" benefits resulting from Executive S&OP include:

  • Higher customer service
  • Lower finished goods inventories
  • More stable production rates
  • Faster and more controlled new product introductions
  • Reduced obsolescence
  • Shorter customer lead times for make-to-order products

"Soft" benefits resulting from Executive S&OP include:

  • Enhanced teamwork in the executive group and elsewhere
  • Improved communications
  • Better decisions and better financial plans with less effort
  • One set of numbers, in both units and dollars, with which to run the business
  • Tight linkage between strategic plans and day-to-day activities
  • A "window into the future"
Implementation Process

Event 1 | Familiarization and Executive Briefing | 1.5 to 2 Days

Day 1: Mini-Assessment.

This involves one or several team meeting(s) with executives and managers from the primary functional areas of the business: General Management, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Operations, Supply Chain, Logistics, and New Product Development.

Day 2: Executive Briefing

This is a facilitated business meeting, around a conference table and lasting for two to three hours. It involves the President/General Manager, his or her staff, and additional key individuals.

The objective here is to enable the executive group to:

  • Understand the capabilities of Executive S&OP – what it does, how it works and what benefits companies have gained from using it
  • Learn how Executive S&OP is different from current practices, even if the current practice is already called S&OP
  • Match Executive S&OP’s capabilities to problems the company is experiencing in areas such as shipping to its customers on time, running the plants efficiently, keeping finished goods inventories low and customer order backlogs in line

*Please note: Event 1 is a stand-alone step. When a company concludes Event 1, it has no commitment to go to further.

Event 2 | Executive S&OP Kick-Off | 1.5 to 2 Days

First Half Day

  • Topic: Education on the basics of Executive S&OP: what it is, where it fits, how it works, how it’s different from today’s practices, what benefits result, how it’s implemented
  • Attendees: Key people who will be “hands-on” with Executive S&OP plus other interested people, including all executives
  • Emphasis: How S&OP can benefit the company and how to implement successfully

Second Half Day

  • Topic: How to apply Executive S&OP practices to the company
  • Attendees: Most of the people who were present in the morning session, except for top management. It’s really not necessary that they be present for this part, although they should feel welcome to stick around if they wish
  • Emphasis: How Executive S&OP will work within the company

Third Half Day

  • Topic: Development of a detailed implementation plan for the next 90 days, to result in a live S&OP pilot, which is primarily a demonstration to top management as to how Executive S&OP will operate in their company
  • Attendees: The people who will make up the Design Team (core team, project team), which is the group that designs the Executive S&OP process for the company and spearheads its implementation
  • Emphasis: The creation of a detailed implementation plan with tasks, responsibilities, critical paths, timing, and resource requirements – to get to a live pilot within 90 days

Usually, the first two half days occur on one full day, followed by the third half day on the next morning. After this, the Design Team can begin work on the process and the live pilot, with the knowledge that the plan is sound and that they can accomplish it.

Should the company elect, we can support the subsequent implementation effort and help bring it to a successful conclusion. See Implementation Support.

*Please note: when a company concludes Event 2, it has no commitment to go further.

Additional S&OP Resources
  • Eight Elementary Errors of S&OP
    There's much misinformation about S&OP out there and that's too bad. Why? Because often this misinformation acts as an inhibitor to prevent companies from getting started with the process. This article identifies some of those errors and explains the realities behind them.
  • Change Management in S&OP: The Most Important Task in Making S&OP Successful
    uccessfully implementing Executive S&OP is essentially a matter of change management. The amount of change is significant. It’s not a matter of doing something better; it’s about doing things differently – to be better.
  • Cost and Benefits of S&OP: The Financial View of Implementing Executive S&OP
    “How much does this S&OP stuff cost?” is a phrase heard more frequently these days. This whitepaper addresses that issue, first by discussing the benefits achieved by real-world companies and then by identifying the relevant costs involved in an implementation. 
  • S&OP Implementation Plan
    Task list of what needs to be done for a successful implementation of Executive S&OP. The list is intended to be entered into your project management software.
  • S&OP Effectiveness Checklist
    Provides each participant with a place to record and keep extensive, individualized notes, a place to document assigned responsibilities and due dates; and advice on dealing with conflict that may arise from the various departments involved in the evaluation process.