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July 12, 2004
4 Min Read
Companies must better manage disparate people, information, and processes to tightly couple their demand and supply chain planning. To achieve this, Ventana Research recommends they examine new applications that complement existing approaches. After years of waiting for ERP and supply chain management (SCM) providers to respond to pent up demand for information and analytics in an application that can improve performance, solutions that address these issues are finally coming to market.
Webplan has an operational performance improvement set of applications targeted for managing the supply chain to the requirements of the demand chain and suppliers. Ventana Research sees Webplan’s RapidResponse solution as a much-needed improvement in a market that needs applications that leverage existing ERP and SCM investments.
Manufacturers are failing to improve operational performance because of their inability to successfully connect the demand and supply chain from operational planning to efficient execution. Synchronization of the monitoring of inventory and product variables to cost targets and meeting customer demand by ensuring suppliers deliver is not easy. ERP and SCM systems do not address the synchronization of people and processes. This has prevented managers and analysts across the demand and supply chain from accessing timely and relevant information to improve operational performance.
Improving operational performance is not about increasing automation. It is about improving classic operation-centric ‘demand and supply chain’ planning. Making the supply chain more effective is more complex than improving other operational and financial processes because of the large number of people inside and outside the organization who must be tightly linked together to ensure prompt action and execution. This complex management process operates across existing automation systems. Manufactures are now making the improvement of these processes a strategic priority.
Webplan, an application provider in what Ventana Research calls Operational Performance Management, provides a supply chain solution that helps manage the gap between planning and execution to targets as efficiently as possible. Webplan has ten years of history solving problems and serving global organizations. With a sufficient number of customers and adequate financing, Webplan is growing to meet the new demand in the supply chain market.
Webplan’s RapidResponse is an application for an organization that wants to manage supply chain plans to execution across internal and external organizational areas. This application supports managers who want to manage the strategy through to execution, for analysts who need to model and iterate scenarios for effective planning and for individuals who only need to provide inputs or view information.
The end-user application leverages technology called ActiveSpreadsheets, which provides on-demand access to information across multiple sources like ERP, WMS, and PLM. The application is presented in a familiar spreadsheet-like environment directly connecting to a server that manages the application, security, information, and distributed access to analytic models and data sources. The server component technology, Resolution Engine, supports the analytic modeling capabilities, allowing planners and analysts to do scenario planning and what-if analysis and share the information with users across an enterprise.
LiveScorecard is the performance improvement application that allows management to compare plans and score them for continuous measuring and monitoring. This goals-driven solution is critical for an application that spans across organizational areas and requires department managers to buy into mutual targets. Such a solution helps break down cultural and political boundaries.
After reviewing the applications, Ventana Research finds Webplan RapidResponse to be intuitive and suitable for business users of varying sophistication who address critical supply chain and operational planning. A call to a Webplan customer — one of the largest high-tech manufacturers — confirmed that the application can drive significant value in an organization. It exceeded this customer’s expectations on efficiency and effectiveness improvements, increased responsiveness, and reduced costs.
Webplan is one of the providers whose solutions operate across the disparate SCM, WMS, ERP, and CRM systems within an enterprise to provide an operational performance improvement application that has strategic value. Larger application providers like I2, Oracle, PeopleSoft, and SAP that have applications in this area focus on simply providing information on top of their transactional automation applications. This falls short of the goal of the heterogeneous application and data environment and the need to leverage existing financial and application investments. Unfortunately, the application providers’ data warehouse and BI platforms require significant resources to provide an operational performance application.
Webplan has many areas where it can continue to expand its application functionality for monitoring and collaborative workflow-based activity tracking. Organizations that need tight coupling into their transactional systems will need to prepare their own data integration points under RapidResponse.
Organizations that want to meet demand and respond to planned and unexpected events should look at operational performance improvement applications that can link historical performance, planning cycles, and execution that can be measured and monitored. Ventana Research sees Webplan and its RapidResponse as reducing a significant gap in operational performance by replacing email and spreadsheets that cannot efficiently manage to execution. If you want to improve your manufacturing process and link the demand and supply chain with suppliers efficiently in an informational and analytic perspective, consider Webplan.
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