Reimagining S&OP with agile planning at Tata Steel
Last year, Tata Steel celebrated 100 years of steel production, but despite its longevity as a company, it is now facing challenges such as climate change that require it to rethink its business. Phillip Erkinger was tasked with revamping its S&OP tool, which was first launched in 2008.
In 2017, Tata’s S&OP application tool required significant investments. ‘That’s when,’ Erkinger explains, ‘my senior manager decided we should come up with an innovative solution.’
The first step was the assembly of an all-star team. ‘Getting the right people was more important than what we would develop,’ he says. ‘The team decided to reinvent rather than upgrade, and was given six months to do so. Then we came up with guiding principles, including keeping things as simple as possible, to focus on strategy and to speak the same language.’
The team decided to take an agile approach, which was new for the organisation and required getting everyone on board. ‘We had workshops with senior managers who had to take time for it or it would not work. Their focus enabled us to develop not just the tool, but trust.’
By March 2019, the new tool was live. The system has enabled many positive outcomes, including connected planning, increased process efficiency, cross-function involvement, maximised automation and transparency.
‘We have achieved a lot, but the journey continues,’ Erkinger says. ‘We want to keep creating change within the organisation to become the most agile steel company.’