The majority of manufacturing companies manage planning through two separate teams. Finance assembles budgets and capital requirements. The operations team balances supply and demand and calculates future capacity and supply needs. In volatile times the operations team mitigates emerging risks or capitalizes on unanticipated opportunities. Through such periods the financial and operations plans often diverge, sometimes dramatically.
But serving two disparate plans is like driving your car with two GPS navigation devices giving you verbal directions to two different destinations in two foreign languages.
Supply chain management is under increasing pressure to align with companies’ strategic plans. Finance is traditionally responsible for corporate strategy alignment. For Supply Chain to better support corporate strategy it must first align itself with Finance – specifically financial planning. Supply chain planning can no longer function independently. In these challenging times and forever going forward, supply chain planning is about identifying and activating the most profitable strategies from many potential scenarios.
For this to work supply chain management must understand the language of finance. And finance should at least grasp the basics of operations-speak, when it comes to melding the two plans. When a supply chain practitioner performs plan analysis, she compares plans based on metrics such as service level attainment, inventory levels and resource utilization. Supply chain management’s timeframe commonly extends three to four months. Finance, on the other hand, focuses on cash flow, which drives revenue, profit, working capital, and budget maintenance. Finance’s purview are the fiscal year and current fiscal terms.
A unified, evolving operations/financial plan is one of the critical ingredients for achieving supply chain resilience. To learn how to connect the operations and financial plans – and align planning models, planning horizons, and key metrics – to march as one with Finance and upper management – read Bridge the Gulf Between Supply Chain Planning and Finance.