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Podcast: A Day in the Life of a Director, S&OP – with Andrew Schneider

By Published On: May 9, 2024

Hosts: Rodney Apple

In This Episode:

In this episode of the Supply Chain Careers Podcast, host Rodney Apple explores the topic of of Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) and Integrated Business Planning (IBP) with expert guest Andrew Schneider. Andrew shares his extensive experience in supply chain management, providing a deep dive into the nuances and strategic importance of S&OP and IBP in today’s business landscape. Listeners will gain valuable insights into how these planning strategies are not just about managing supply and demand but are pivotal in shaping robust career paths within the industry.

Who is Andrew Schneider?:

Andrew Schneider is an award-winning S&OP expert with over 20 years of experience directing & thought-leading within supply chain, business transformation, advanced analytics, and enterprise risk management disciplines.

He is one of the few triple-fellowship level holders with The Association for Supply Chain Management, an Advisory Board Member with the Institute for Business Forecasting & Planning, an accomplished six-times-over S&OP & IBP implementer, and a frequent industry face across conferences, journals, articles, and webinars where he serves as an instructor, coach, speaker, and author.

Andrew is presently the Director of S&OP for Project Canary in Denver, Colorado; a company whose mission is to alter the course of climate change through emissions tracking and reduction for energy-intensive industries.  He is a pragmatic data scientist himself, but even more so an impassioned S&OP champion innovating the practice for modern-day business needs across a variety of industries and global markets.

[00:00:00] Mike Ogle: Welcome to another episode in the day of the life series of the supply chain careers podcast. In this series, you hear directly from supply chain professionals about their current positions, their day to day responsibilities, what they enjoy about their positions and how to best prepare yourself to be successful, to do the work plus what it takes to get there and continue advancing along the many career paths in supply chain.

This podcast is made possible by SCM talent group, the industry leading supply chain, executive search firm, visit SCM talent group at SCM talent. com.

[00:00:47] Rodney Apple: Welcome back to the supply chain careers podcast. This is our day in the life series, and we’re excited to welcome Andrew Snyder to our show today, Andrew, thanks for joining us

[00:00:59] Andrew Schneider: for having me.

Rodney. Always good to see you.

[00:01:02] Rodney Apple: Yeah. Nice to see you too. It’s been a while. Uh, And, uh, hope you’re doing well these days. So Andrew would love just a quick introduction, how you got it into the field. I know today we’re going to focus on the field of kind of the sales operations planning, uh, or, you know, integrated business planning.

I love your definition between those two for our audience, just so they can understand those different dynamics, but yeah, I’d love to hear your perspective. How you launched your career and what led you down into this career path?

[00:01:29] Andrew Schneider: Absolutely. The nice thing is I started with, uh, the degrees in economics, business administration, advanced statistics, which you’d expect, but never thought I’d go into supply chain where those things just go hand in hand, demand and supply balancing.

I started early on as a journalist. Uh, just outside of Detroit, Michigan in the late nineties and then got into, uh, very blessed. And I think everyone should, everything is selling right is how that goes. And did that in South Florida, North central Florida in the medical field for a while. And then cut my teeth with Bradco supply soon then became ABC supply co really getting a blessed opportunity to spend a number of years doing basic https: otter.

ai It’s to get back to medical. I like that. I can do supply chain anywhere and that’s true. And that’s a great thing about our field, but I’ve always liked having something either sustainability or medical that has that intrinsic give back field. I’ve had a chance to lead my first of what’s now been six in and out of med a few times, supply chain transformations, driving specializations.

Or design talent management. And along the way as a hungry, lifelong learner, which I always try to instill in anybody I meet at a conference or mentor more certs than you can shake a stick at, but not for the number of letters you could put after your name, but for the pragmatism of keeping up with what’s new, what can I apply?

How can I be an end to end? Well rounded business leader, not just a supply chain. I call the wizard of Oz behind the curtain, pulling those levers and Pay no attention to that man. My current, I wanted to be in the forefront, which is then where that passion of S&OP getting to be at the table came in and just a wonderful career ride thus far, uh, 20 plus years having settled in that discipline now, and we could talk, you teed up S&OP versus IBP.

But what I feel is you don’t really help. Shape the way the business is being planned and executed on a daily basis. It’s not just a series of meetings. It’s an operating system. So I’m just a passionate geek. Other wonderful people like Pat Bauer and we’re sincere and others I’ve learned from and yourself in the field all claim to be nerds, but I would definitely put myself solidly in that camp Rodney.

[00:03:34] Rodney Apple: Yeah, and I appreciate that perspective. And we know that this is, you mentioned supply chain geek. So we know that this particular field you grow up in analytics has always been a big part of supply chain. And we have seen quite the evolution from when I was in 20 plus years ago, you had. Your basic ER, AS 400 systems, right.

And Excel has just come a long way, but now we’ve got everything with machine learning and AI and these advanced analytics. And I know you could talk a lot more about that than I can. You maybe talk our audience through where one may start out. Call it more broader planning and the different types of fields that help shape someone to move into more of this broader holistic S&OP or IBP.

[00:04:18] Andrew Schneider: Yeah, absolutely. So particularly those, and I am preaching to my own sort of modern alumni groups, but those in economics, it’s wonderful to find state or federal jobs where you’re doing macroeconomic resurgent. But really, if you want to have a great way to apply that degree that I think This transformed over the last couple of decades.

And what do I do with an economics degree? Now, demand analyst is a great entry level role as his supply planner, as his logistic specialist. The good news is we’ve gone from, I talked about before buyer planner, which was the wizard of Oz behind the scene at the entry level. I do anything I’m told to do in supply chain to really specializations of these knowledge workers.

What I particularly liked from a learning perspective, Rodney, about the demand analyst role is I believe there’s an active difference in the verbs analyze. And plan. So a demand planner to me is that next progression of where as an analyst, you are understanding and learning the business. You, if you think about it, we worry about automation coming in and taking jobs away.

We’ve had luckily in the field of demand planning, which is a sector of supply chain, a sector of financial planning. It’s part of S and O P is there’s been systems for years that will do what’s called back fit testing. So throw a bunch of statistical models at it, pick the one with the least error and let’s run with that.

But the problem is. Those systems don’t understand the business comings and goings that shape and move that demand. So you talk about things like price elasticity, it’s not going to know three times in the three years of history you loaded, you changed price where an analyst comes in and understands, ah, I saw the elastic or inelastic impact of that for the trailing six months, demand went up, demand went down.

We had account loss. But we got more profitable accounts. Those are the things where you are learning and engaging the business and you are taking the art of what becomes a demand planner and saying, now we have everyday decisions to make. In S&OP, you’re just in business in general. Should we take on that shining new object customer?

Should we go after that new market? What should we plan for cannibalization of that new product? What we’ll do to the old and being able to say as a baseline, I’ve had that experience to understand what the history can tell me. But I don’t just want, as the saying goes, want to drive the vehicle, just looking at the rearview mirror.

I got to see what’s coming and being able to say statistically eight times out of 10, this happened afterwards. But I think based on what we’ve seen in the more recent history, what’s happening in the market right now, we may want to take this approach with a little bit more buffers. So you become from an analyst to a planner.

When you take those first couple of years of seek to understand. Before being understood, then you can apply what you’re learning, or if you’ve had a few years in another job and blend it to now you become a trusted advisor, a counselor, a demand planner, someone who’s guiding a plan and the same thing in FP and a or supply planning.

I like to say anything that’s got planner or analyst attached. You’re doing the same thing with a different denominator. So you are doing a plan versus an actual. You’re building a plan, you’re tracking performance and you’re adjusting as you go. It could be supply and widgets coming through capacity. It could be demand of orders, or it could be dollars coming in.

So it really applies to all those. I just use the demand analyst as an opportunity to say, I think it’s a wonderful way to walk in and really take that humble approach of, I want to learn. I want to learn what systems and statistics and math and AI can do well. And then where I apply a human level of analysis to this to go, I understand the causation.

And now how can I leverage AI to help build in smart causation to apply for the future?

[00:07:44] Rodney Apple: Sure. No, that’s a great overview. And maybe we could speak to some of the core objectives. What are we trying to solve for? What are we trying to prevent? There are these things we don’t want inventory to build up. We don’t want to run out that Holy grail of, of balancing the supply and demand, the stakeholders that this role interfaces with, who are we working with day to day?

When it comes to both the analysis and the planning to keep the business in good shape financially and to, and to keep the customers happy.

[00:08:13] Andrew Schneider: Yeah, absolutely. And to keep your leaders and those you work with happy, because as I like to say, it’s not what’s unit, what, right. It’s how you operate and it’s better to be likable and have people want to work with you once we could talk about soft skills, leave that for you.

Then to know everything about every model present business is still a human interaction game. Supply chain, in my opinion, I’m a sci fi guy. Rodney, I don’t know about you, but, uh, I, I enjoyed back in the day, Star Trek and all those things. There was a movie a few years ago with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence called passengers and as a supply chain guy, you’re going, what the heck does that have to do with this?

It was a great scene where there’s an issue with the ship they’re on in space and they go to the holographic monitors and they pull up an image of the ship and it immediately hones in on the red areas where there’s problems. And then they can drill in and then they go and. Fix the ship. Essentially.

That’s largely what supply chain management is. It’s taking an end to end perspective of the ship, right? Other people use a board game reference, but I’ll use this one and being able to say, okay, I need to know what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy. Once you start getting into metrics as a day to day discipline, you can get hung up on how things are calculated or what tolerance or the, I heard this one’s better than that one, but what you’re trying to identify anytime you look at a metric and you’re in supply chain and you’re trying to help guide the health of the business, is it an input or is it an outcome?

So demand planning, one of the first steps, what are we going to determine what we’re going to sell so we can go then build to that or buy to that? Or if it’s a service prepared to deliver that service, do we have capacity that comes next? When you start that, you really want to use a baseline, right? So we talked about stat models and then you want to say, is this in control?

Can I trust this? Is it reliable or do I need to spend some work on it? And then there’s an ROI of how much time you spend tuning and, uh, coming from that healthcare passion I talked about, uh, doctors have something called the Hippocratic Oath. Do no harm. It’s the same thing in supply chain. If you’re going to be tweaking things, try not to do any harm or learn from your mistakes.

So the concept of statistical process control really lives in operations and quality, but it’s essential to the day in the life of supply chain. You set up these thresholds around the ship for all of the different disciplines. You’re looking at the flow of demand and planning for that customer inputs to demand sales guys inputs to demand, and then you’re moving along the path of procuring and order to cash and all these things.

And you just want to see, where do I need to intervene? It’s not that you want the ship to float around autonomously, but you need to determine in the way that we’ve already identified a plan, a strategic multi year plan, to this year’s plan, to this month’s plan, to this week’s execution, how do these things flow up and are they still in control or do we need to do a re plan?

S&OP as a discipline is really, it’s not planning as in a one time it’s replanning. It should be S&OP, right? So whenever it comes to design of process, I always think about it in that ship mentality, and I’ll even use that reference. Okay. What part of the ship are we talking about? What’s really important to control here?

Do we need to tighten tolerances to get even earlier alerts? Can we rely more on mathematics AI, right. To help guide us. Uh, or is there an element here of also being able to measure the How that part of the ship is running. So you get into soft metrics, employee satisfaction, and net promoter scores of department to department, those sorts of things.

But hopefully that analogy helped a little bit, Rodney.

[00:11:28] Rodney Apple: Yeah, it did. That’s a great analogy. And I really liked that. Uh, the way you framed that up, we’ve touched on these hard skills and a lot of math and, and data, but. When you’re on the demand side, and I think this is where we see struggles. I think a lot of folks coming out of school today or are getting taught the analytics.

They’re growing up with the smart smartphones in their hands. So they’re really savvy with computers in general, but we hear that can sometimes. Deter or negate or slow down the development of the soft skills. And when you’re working with what I would say is probably some of the stronger personalities in a company on the sales and marketing or commercial side of a business, you’ve got to have those soft skills.

Uh, you can get run over very quickly. What would you say about the soft skills that are important in planning in particular?

[00:12:17] Andrew Schneider: Absolutely. That first, and I said earlier, I’ll reiterate is seek to understand before being understood. Every business likes to say it’s special. Every market likes to say that it has nuances that don’t apply to rules, another market.

And you’ll find that Sometimes that’s not true. Largely, there are uniquenesses to every department, every organization, every business that you need to take the time to understand, not just a textbook off the shelf. This is how it’s supposed to be done. And I learned this and let me impart that upon you.

There’s that willingness to want to do that, which I love, particularly those coming in and into the workforce now that have so many more hard skills, as you said, being developed that want to deploy those. But change management is one of the strongest Things that you can learn early on and thank goodness.

There are so many amazing tools that don’t require taking out another student loan between edX and Coursera and LinkedIn learning. You can get for free with a library card now, and to be able to really focus in on, you know, the change adoption curve and there’s going to be resistance. Anytime there is anything new coming in as a new employee, some with good ideas, some with an opinion on something, there’s resistance.

Either that could challenge a personality or ego. It could also just challenge the fact that maybe that individual with a great idea is not thinking through all of the efficiency implications or the ROI it would take to achieve those things. So operating with open. Questions, having an inquisitive mindset.

Those are things that sound easy, but there’s a reason there’s entire leadership courses that go on for semesters that dedicate themselves to those disciplines. It’s something that has to be practiced and learned. Open questions, active listening. That’s a key part. Another area that I like to recommend for new folks coming in is pragmatism, particularly in the world of AI and ML, which is largely in its hype cycle peak right now is while these things sound incredible, we Practically everything when I talked about the benefit just briefly before about being able to interpret a pattern, tie that back to recent business events.

When you get into how all of those incredible neural network and amazing things work, the data has to be so clean. And so crisp for all of these neurons to fire. And really a lot of ML is just, if then else this, and if the else is going to incomplete or bad data, which I’m sorry to tell you those coming in the business world, we’ve messed that up pretty substantially 30 years in the game of systems.

Data’s messy. What’d they say? Dress Malcolm and Jurassic park. That’s one big pile. That’s what I think. Whenever I look at data, when I walk into something, so really coming in and getting your hands on every master table from an ERP system, you can learn item masters, customers, locations, stratifying and dissecting those, learning the top 10, 20 percent of things, looking for how many things are incomplete.

When was the last time certain fields were updated? You’d be amazed at 10 years ago. Pretty sure things have changed in 10 years. That’s where you can spend a lot of pragmatic data health data enablement efforts. Before you start selling the sexy stuff that’s being taught right now, you get your stuff in order and really spend a lot of time on data integrity, data health.

That’s where a lot of executives are looking for coaching right now. They get the white papers, they get the constant sales guys on the fancy techniques, and there’s a place for those. But nine times out of 10, my experience really honing in and saying, I’ve got my day in the life we talked about in the JD, but I really have an interest in creating some small, practical, iterative, agile, we like to call it approaches to some data science projects, not roles.

And how can I start understanding our data more intimately to get there? That’s the second best thing I can recommend besides taking your time to be humble enough to learn a business.

[00:15:53] Rodney Apple: What would you say to serve on the board with the Institute of Business Forecasting and Planning, IBF, you’ve, you’ve been involved with that group for quite some time and which is.

For our audience, if you’re not aware is pretty much the association that drives a lot of thought leadership and knowledge, content, et cetera, shaping the planning arena. But what did you learn from that experience? How is, how have things evolved from the lens of the IBF?

[00:16:24] Andrew Schneider: Thank you for that plug, because just I had no kickbacks or anything.

Just, I got involved with the IBF first as a member and then joined and had the opportunity and blessing to speak and coach and author and learn every day. I learned from wonderful people in that organization. And I’m also an impassioned Apex guy for twice as long as the IBF. And I think the two work so well.

This IBF is just a zoom in on particular areas that, you know, Apex has to cover from end to end ASCM, excuse me. And the biggest thing I’ve learned is that businesses are still stagnating. With S&OP, IPP, SIOB, XPNA, FPNA. After now, we are like decade ago, we were saying two decades. Now we’re saying three decades level Gartner’s got all there and everybody’s got their maturity curves, but.

Let’s say there’s five. Most companies are stagnating at a 2 to 2. 5, even after this amount of time. And there’s this rinse and repeat of most organizations you come into. It’s not their first go with S& 3. 0, 4. 0, 5. 0. And A, from a change management perspective, there’s taking the time to work through that baggage.

And identifying what can be done differently. And then there’s also the opportunity to think about that maturity curve as something that is like a plant, right? It needs constant care. It’s not one directional. So many things just in consultants will pitch you. It’s one direction. We’re going to get you to five and you’ll never go backwards.

Not true at all. And I have seen through the IBF, so many people that are Keen to learning new emerging disciplines are models and wonderful things out there, but they are still struggling with the basics of is S&OP a series of meetings, a thing we have to do a white paper, some executive red, or is it the way we run the business and are the people involved recognized for that?

Oliver White, the man, I think famously once said, your future generation of leaders is coming from S&OP because why would it not? Those are the people running the business, right? And paraphrasing, but I absolutely agree. It is an opportunity to be able to blend from a weighted perspective. Every different camp that has different opinions from HR and facilities management, procurement, new, all the way through C suite shop floor control, being able to take everything and say, okay, everyone has different metrics.

Everyone has different goals and annual performance measures. We need the optimized, right? So everybody’s going to have to give and take a little optimized way to run this business, track it and be nimble enough to replan. And I think that what we’re seeing is a lot of people in the last decade, Rodney, Buying APS is we’re going to go from Excel to blue yonder SAP IBP.

And what I said before about data integrity and data cleanliness, putting crap gasoline, a Ferrari, it’s going to stutter a bit. Um, and then being able to have a sustainable model where it’s great. And then you lose your driver to another company because you didn’t make it attractive enough to want to stay in the driver’s seat and S&OP.

And it’s just been. Humbling, but also inspiring for me to really go, how do we crack that nut to continue to propel forward and not be staying at the same 2. 5 score that I’ve seen for far too long now. And the only other thing that I think is feeding into this, that if there’s besides early entrance on this call that are patiently listening.

To any executives, fellow directors, VPs out there, supply chain transformation post pandemic is not a check the box for boards or for investment parties to say, we need to do this to show we’re doing this, let’s go buy a system or let’s create a center of excellence. It’s not a two year check the box project and you’re done.

There is sustainability of how you evolve the function. I’m going to throw a new acronym at you, Rodney. You can copyright whatever you want. I like to take all of those different things and distill them to what I would have as a master acronym right now, to have a boss of a process called boss, because they are literally all business operating system success.

It’s what you’re doing. It’s an operating system. We have a plan. We’ve looked at the, like in investing the efficiency frontier of all the different ways we could optimize a revenue target, but we’ve got to blend profitability, risk, sustainability. So you’re doing a multivariate optimization. You’re saying this just like a hurricane projection, right?

It’s coming for the East coast. This is our cone. This is our most likely path. And that is what you operate to. That is what you execute to. That is what you not just look at we’re deviating, but closing the gaps. That’s what S&OP is all about. And for me, I don’t care what discipline it lives in. Let’s face it still usually lives in supply chain, which I take as a compliment.

We’re probably the most unbiased. Of any one camp between sales, finance, or operations manufacturing, but we need to run it as an operating system and not just a process. It is how work gets done. It is the funnel that everything moves into. So you eliminate all the sidebar ways of getting work done. And that’s what the IBF is trying to promote.

That’s what a lot of great thought leadership comes out of that camp for, and I’m just trying to help where I can.

[00:21:13] Rodney Apple: Yeah, that’s fascinating to think about as run a small business and we’re always trying to fine tune our overall operating system and our processes are documented and analyzing the right data and the financials and all of these things and stretching across as a service business.

Where’s. Our revenue coming from and our client base and, you know, how do we fill that and resource it? And speaking very high level, but the boss acronym, I really like that. And I think there probably will be fascinating to see how these it’s not really 2 things, but it’s. In a way it is, it’s your business operating system.

And then the enterprise planning side of that as well, which we’re talking about with S&OP and IBP, but they all should be maybe merged into one. Is that what you’re saying?

[00:22:00] Andrew Schneider: If you’re in supply chain right now, you’ve got a very unique blessed position that still exists. I think the business might run out of patients in another, within the next.

Five years because we’ve been at the leader’s seat for S and O P for a while of all the disciplines that could run it when we talk day in the life, Rodney about supply chain, and it doesn’t matter what role you come in at from that entry level to BP chief supply chain officer. There is the execution that statistical process control, the addressing of day to day problems of the ship, right?

And then there’s transformation, which is that continuous moving of the operating system that ship is using. And we have the unique gift. Of being asked to do both still, they’ve not given up on us yet. I don’t know. I always draw my guy. They just don’t trust the sales guys. They never will. And finance we’ll just do it the cheapest way possible.

And the plant will go, that’s nice, but we’re going to run. We will make sense for for absorption. So no, we have a, you’d have to do both. Even if you’re in the domain analyst seat and you’re learning about the data and you’re learning the personalities, you have to spend equal amount of time thinking about that operating system.

Is it running efficiently? And do when I come in the morning, do I know where we’re at in the cycle? What I should be doing around this point in the cycle. And it’s not to fill every minute of every day, but as a guiding post, 50, 60 percent of the work should fall in that repeatable cyclicality, right? And then being able to fill in those special projects and data things and relationship and talent management, all of that stuff.

Around that core and unfortunately, I still see too many supply chain transformation roles disconnected from tactical execution, or I see execution only roles that then do transformation as a project and these things are, you’re looking for one in the same and a linkage so that it goes on in perpetuity and doesn’t end after a year or two when you buy an SAP IBP

[00:23:51] Mike Ogle: during this short break, we recognize that this podcast is made possible by SCM talent group.

The industry leading supply chain, executive search firm, visit SCM talent group at scmtalent. com.

[00:24:08] Rodney Apple: We hear, and I forget the statistic we’ve talked about it on our, in the past, but it’s most transformations fail. And you talked about this earlier. A lot of companies are on their second, third, fourth iteration of S&OP or IBP and have yet to figure it out. And some just completely scrap it and say, Oh, we tried and it just didn’t work out.

What would you. Classifies maybe the top two or three things that companies are missing and what leads to the failure from your perspective, from your lens,

[00:24:38] Andrew Schneider: there’s tons of great lists out there prior to AI generated content, which unfortunately is just clogging up with. Mundane, very generic amount of white papers.

A few years ago, there were very few that would say the top 10 pitfalls of implementing S&OP. Now there’s probably 10, 000 of those a day that are bots generating bots saying the same thing or saying garbage. And there’s a place for all that, but it’s also just, that’s one of my pet peeves. It’s Overwhelm the market.

I’m going to go back to what it was a few years ago, because I think it still holds true. One of the first that’s always on the top of the list is executive support and engagement. There’s sub bullets, like a mind map. It’s going to explode out from there, right? So what have we learned in 10 years since then that you won’t see in AI content?

What I’ll tell you is backdoor channels, executives, unfortunately, right? Being servant leaders are always trying to appease. Those around them in the C suite, key customers, key strategic channel partners, and you can say all day long, that’s for the MBR. That’s the executive S and O take it to the reconciliation meeting, bring that back to demand.

But what’s that saying cultures are defined by the worst practices that a business tolerates. That’s one of them. When you still have the goal of S and O P should actually, when you come in your organization at level one or approaching level two maturity, you’ll actually see on a good health metric, a reduction in the number of meetings.

Thanks. That’s one that people aren’t championing enough. You should see, we had a daily backorder meeting at eight that was followed by a strap planning session that was followed by a key customer meet all those demand review, supply review, reconciliation. This is, they go in certain buckets and you feed.

And when you maintain that operating system appropriately, you see that reduction. What I see are executives that will go. I believe in S&OP. I put out a memo on that had my picture and signature at the bottom. I walk into a couple meetings and said, good job. And I have checked the box. So that’s not a pitfall.

Number one anymore. And I go, hold on a minute. How much are you using it as an operating system and not as a banner? So are you still creating opportunities for people to have a reconciliation outside back door with you for you to work in that extra order that somebody pounded on your desk or rang your phone about back in the demand that superseded something else that threw a monkey wrench in the supply plant?

That’s probably Rodney, the most critical one that I see. The second has been that approach I consider and not enough academic treatment. I probably am going to get emails from colleagues saying come make a white paper on that. HR is a critical partner that has been overlooked in S and O P from the talent management perspective, from the intentional skill development, from the rotational component of shadowing and being able to work within other functions and understand and empathize with what they are trying to work through in their sub operating systems that they do departmentally or regionally every day.

And instead that’s a feared function don’t engage with as much where human capital, you’re in a service business, right? Right. You have capacity in hours. You have capacity and focus and what you need to do. You have energy that you have and passion that you have. These are your metrics, right? And then ROI and hard metric.

Those are things we’re having an HR partner more involved in S&OP and to be able to steward that new generation of talent and everything from their differences in learning techniques and learning preferences, and being able to say, rather than a PowerPoint, we throw at them, are there different engaging ways of having an onboarding to a new.

Forecast analyst that’s learning about our S and O P process. How have we kept up with that changing learning preference? That’s a second biggest bucket I think is besides the backdoor channels of an executive is not having your people leaders engaged in a process that is predominantly human.

[00:28:17] Rodney Apple: That’s, that’s fascinating take that I.

I’ve really not thought about when you think about the HR, cause it’s not just HR and supply chain, you need to have HR and the entire company across the function and up into the chief HR officer down that’s supporting this, what is truly an enterprise, like you said, operating system and not a process, but it’s a way of doing business and thinking and, and running your business.

[00:28:42] Andrew Schneider: My last board is a wishlist one, and I’ll be brief on this one. I respect that. I’ve had wonderful mentors. Shout out to Randy Buckner down at formally exact tech in Florida was a CIO. I realized that technology is an enablement of people in process and that every tech guy will tell you we own the system, not the data in the system.

But. Just like supply chain doesn’t own S&OP, but we facilitate it. I think there’s also a missing role for it to play, not just in life cycle management of APSs and ERPs, but in the monthly cycle of data, health, and integrity and management, if not just to put a baton in someone else’s hands, shine a spotlight data health, as it relates to S&OP is essential and being able to even have that group.

Do unbiased postmortems and go, you know what? The last three opportunities that came up that we missed. And we talked about the opportunity cost of those. And we replanned, we went back and actually helped look into that. And we didn’t have the causal tags in our systems correctly. That it was the, the opportunity was loaded a week before the sales order dropped in our lead times or three weeks.

There’s a role, a detective, a don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just here to show you what the data is. Again, I don’t own it, but. Here it is. You try to ask the business to do that to themselves in the functions like supply chain finance. We’re not going to want to put that out there. You help put that sheriff badge on the it team, and you can’t really blame them when they come back and our systems are only as good as the data you’re putting in them and your process is only as good as the data that enables it.

Here’s some areas that’ll allow for you to have that operating system that is getting those incremental releases, patches. To improve dependent upon a transformation only of people to try to address with human effort. You can address some of that underlying. So that’s my third wish. Rodney is that I wish I T played a little bigger role in helping shine the spotlight on some of those data health metrics, those data scorecards and lessons.

[00:30:38] Rodney Apple: Yeah, HR and let’s bring HR and IT to the party. And then you got everybody together at that point for the most part. If

[00:30:44] Andrew Schneider: they see it as a new boss acronym, they’re not even going to know it’s S&OP in disguise anymore.

[00:30:48] Rodney Apple: I love the way you think about this and sharing these perspectives because it is a fascinating journey that we’ve witnessed over the years.

And we’ve seen some companies knock it out of the park and a lot of others that. That, that just haven’t been able to get there yet. I feel like the people that step into these roles, we’ve talked about the hard sell soft skills, but I think it truly takes special individuals that are very savvy and can connect across the organization.

It’s not just supply chain and it’s gotta be somebody that sales and marketing respects and the CC respects. And they’d have to understand the financial chops. And like you said, the it chops and the all important people side of this, cause it is a thing. People business and

[00:31:30] Andrew Schneider: two skills that never get talked about enough to there’s great ones that should there’s enough bought articles to cover those Rodney.

I don’t need to do it. Communication. I’ll throw it to a couple other out there from 20 years of realistic learning. One is if you’re going to get into the function, spend a little time philosophically learning about the practice of stoicism. There is something to be said for being a calm. And fact based leader in times of highly emotionally charged business strife.

I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in people screaming at each other across the table, executives, right? That you’ve seen be very polished on stage. Very different when you’re in the meetings, everyone, it’s always a place of intent versus perception. The intent is always very good. The perceptions are people lose that EI.

Motion intelligence and being able to really have that control. And this was coming from many scraped knees myself over that time to get there. Being that column through the storm is where I’ve seen some of the most successful long term leaders in supply chain reside, because there will always be a backorder.

There will always be a missed sale. There will always be a unplanned machine downtime. There will always be an impact, but how you can state the situation, what you’re going to do about it, the actions being taken, the tracking against that, the lessons learned, or realizing a playbook and doing so in a reliable and calm manner.

Is going to benefit you more than any amount of ML that you can throw in a boardroom on a PowerPoint.

[00:33:02] Rodney Apple: Run towards those fires and put them out. Good at that. Yeah. What do you, what would you speak towards the career path? Cause I do, it’s no one’s starting out here. I’m moving right into S&OP and IBP takes, you got to do your time in your seat, different seats to get there.

But what do you see is, is evolving with. Leaders, like where can they go next? Obviously you can go run a supply chain and you do see that’s pretty common, but I like to think of this as a pathway to the C suite myself. But what, what have you seen in that area? What could you speak to?

[00:33:36] Andrew Schneider: There is, and that’s what excites me because talk about the last 10 years, right?

CSCO was not a role you saw very commonly, maybe chief procurement officer. Usually supply chain would cap out at a VP, EVP, SVP level, uh, report to a COO. More often than not supply chain was always a subservient function to operations. It’s really been elevated now more to what I am long term hoping to see it get to.

And I’m starting to see great positive indicators as is the IBF and even Eric Wilson, who I’m a huge fan of did some great work with the IBF of even putting out some recommended career paths to different groups is you’re starting to see it be an unbiased. Upstream function that has moved beyond the confines of operations management.

So supply chain management upstream, you could think about the fact that after a plan has been pushed and has gone into a system through DRP through MRP and make or buy, or in your case as a service plan for the following in this following sequence of projects, that’s execution, that’s operations, and there’s a dance between talking about plan and how you’re doing between the two.

But supply chain now has taken those bookends. And gone enterprise risk management, data sciences, product management and life cycle management, data systems, life cycle management and data systems, data health and integrity. These are all areas that have now crept into our ecosphere, and you’re seeing a lot of resumes that Developed over the last 15 years going, I’ve helped implement three ERP systems.

I was the head of the SAP APO, uh, supply chain module that got implemented. I put in blue yonder can access legality. Oh nine, John Galt, whatever. And that is a great amount of technical prowess. So the wonderful opportunity we have right now in supply chain, more than probably any other function is that we’re back to a major and a minor.

So my major is supply chain. My minor is international business. I tend to enterprise resource systems, risk management, financial planning and analysis, product management and marketing, and being able to use S&OP that allows for you to engage with every single one of those stakeholders. And through your relationship building your continuous learning to take the skills that you’ve enabled here on the day to day operating system of running a business and to learn and grow and apply in any of those functions.

So I would say we are a springboard function. More than any other one in a business flat out, however, the organic growth within the function has grown tremendously as well. You would did not see a decade ago or even pre pandemic as many transformation roles dedicated, not just it’s a bullet on your job description as a supply chain director, but we have a supply chain director and we have a supply chain transformation lead head director, senior director, VP, whatever you have supply chain systems.

Transcribed And supply chain data or S&OP data focused roles. I think that you are seeing now more flexibility on the title and being able to look at the role of what it is and have the conversation with the recruiter, headhunter, HR person. Okay. So the description itself seems to lend itself towards 60 percent supply chain manager, 30 percent transformation, 10 percent systems implement.

Is that correct? Because then how you market yourself. Your brand, your experiences is more than just the title before it was. And you know this, right? I’m supply chain analyst one, two, three, then senior, then principal, then manager. We’ve gone from what was a very firm, almost big four accounting sort of titles to now very nebulous, very fluid that takes those bookend areas and gives you.

Wonderful opportunities. I’ve been a supply chain leader. Who’s also been a quality director. Who’s also been a predictive and descriptive analytics leader. Who’s also been someone who’s been in human resources and talent management and onboarding. This is a function where the roles allow you to grow where the interest is.

So when people say get into business for something you’re passionate about. And it’s understood that some people define themselves. My career is husband, father, wife, mother, whatever. My job is what I do to enable that. You can still derive a great deal of satisfaction in this career out of that job. If your title is not to be CSCO because you have a manifest destiny approach to take those passion areas that might be your minor and really lift them into the forefront.

And then through success in S&OP and. SPC control and being a supply chain person day to day grow with a reputation as a business counselor. And then from there, the sky’s the limit.

[00:38:08] Rodney Apple: Yeah, that’s a, it’s been really cool to watch this evolution and the career paths continue to be shaped by the day.

Observing this from the lens of industry agnostic companies from startup to fortune 15 and cutting across all the different industries, it’s, it continues Impress me with the evolution of careers and then seeing supply chain, and maybe it did take a big pandemic to, like you said earlier, to get it into the spotlight, especially the career spotlight, but also the importance of the function itself to navigate through these crazy.

Times, the classic bullwhip went into extreme effect in the, in 2020 and we’re still dealing with the repercussions. I don’t know.

[00:38:51] Andrew Schneider: We just, let’s just stop playing the beer game because as it was on the fall, this is what we learn in school folks. That’s right. I don’t know. Somebody’s got to come up with one on to, for an iPhone app, a beer game on an iPhone app, whatever developers out there to get more people playing it, to learn these things again, so it doesn’t catch us by surprise.

I mentioned the very odd. And maybe I should apologize for that recommendation for learning a stoicism. The other one I’ll throw out there that you probably don’t hear enough about is embracing the AI change curve. When I talk about the hype and the pragmatism and starting with projects, great ones are getting into price elasticity modeling, looking, working hand in hand with your price team.

Every time you’ve changed it in the last X number of years, going back and analyzing demand and building a playbook of learning models, causation, and being able to layer those things into your planning. That’s great. You can do the same thing with currency hedging. Successful S&OP organizations that are getting beyond three into four and five are starting to add in things like currency exposure, which leads to currency hedging, which allows for you to optimize your end balance sheet dollars more than just the revenue you’re bringing in in a USD when you’ve got exposure.

That’s great, but just like I no longer use a TI 80. Three calculator. I know how it works. I understand the gist of what it does. I was very encouraged this week, Rodney. I saw several roles that were data science coach that we’re bringing in data scientists. We need someone that maybe isn’t a R or Python user, but understands it well enough to guide the programming of the models, according to the business process, automate or same thing with automation.

Anywhere, you’ve got great people coming in that go, I will automate. What do you want me to automate and that ability to speak almost like what was referred to as the uh, systems analyst years ago in it. I can speak business and I can speak it and broker, it’s a great field to engage in. So even if you go.

I’m 54. I can’t learn. I don’t want to go back and learn programming language. Nobody uses C anymore. This will go away too. There are tremendous amounts of free learning resources out there to understand the gist of what is being accomplished, because I promise you there are equally as many roles being created in AI right now, because of how hot it is, that those business leaders are going to be looking for partners in the functions, like in supply chain going, We have a goal to automate 10 percent of repetitive tasks away.

We need someone that can guide, that can coach, that can lead those roles. So if you feel like maybe it’s too late to become a data scientist, it is absolutely not too late to learn what they’re doing, to learn enough about it, to guide, to then bring that business expertise and knowledge to be that missing link, because that is a skill that I think is only going to increase exponentially in the next five years.

[00:41:32] Rodney Apple: Now, I 100 percent agree with that last question, Andrew, and we appreciate these perspectives. It’s always fascinating to talk about, especially about the future and things are evolving. But, uh, for our audience members that are there that have maybe gained some excitement around this conversation and are thinking about where do I want to start?

Maybe where do I want to end up? Where I want to build out my career. And if you’re looking at S&OP, IVP, obviously we’ve talked about IDF. It’s to the business forecasting and planning is a great resource, but what are, we talked about LinkedIn learning. There’s no shortage of places to learn outside of the academic arena, but are any others that you would point people to that want to just learn more about the field, the careers, the jobs, et cetera?

[00:42:15] Andrew Schneider: Yeah, absolutely. Association for supply chain management is, is my go to. That’s. If you’re in marketing, there’s the American Marketing Association. This is your equivalent, right? This is the group that maintains the body of knowledge, right? That you have lots of great spinoff functions, some focused more manufacturing, some focused more planning like the IBF.

There was a certificate for learning for S&OP a few years ago that I think they’ve retired, but the knowledge and content is still out there. And if you just go to YouTube. Apex or ASCM S&OP, the a wealth of information and videos that you will find from thought leaders openly willing to share, to talk about realistic use cases, to talk about pitfalls, talk about tips.

It’s, it’s.

[00:42:57] Rodney Apple: Eric Wilson’s podcast, which is,

[00:42:59] Andrew Schneider: if

[00:43:00] Rodney Apple: you want to geek out for hours and hours,

[00:43:03] Andrew Schneider: this podcast is great. And they also have a great website that’s just demand dash planning. com. That’s owned by the IBF. That’s just got tons of just micro learning content week in week out. If you’re a student, I think a lot of people don’t know that there are reduced or sometimes even free memberships available.

To these organizations as a student. And I think that particularly if you’re in a generic business administration or economic sort of role, and you’re not sure what to do, and you want to find a role that allows for you to see the whole game board and figure out where your passion might be, like a doctor at a med school, when they’re figuring out their specialty, it’s an area to immerse yourself and go look for those S&OP internships, the supply chain internships.

And like I said, when you get in there, just make sure that as part of the deal, you work in being able to explore the company data. You will learn so much. Like I said, just by ingesting master tables of a company and throwing them in simple pivot tables, put them in power BI and visualize. And there’s so much there to be able to learn the scope of products.

How does the business segmented? Do they treat them the same way? Okay. This is an a item. This is a D item. What’s the difference. These are things that you’re not learning about in the classroom, right? You’re learning of the general high level business. This is what’s going to get you down Okay. So I understand.

We can’t treat all products the same, all services the same. How do I bring that into my role to make sure I’m effectively Pareto ing and stratifying the work I do, the hours I spend intentionally, so I don’t get caught in the trap of where we were in this discipline 15 years ago, of backwater chasing every day.

And at the end of the day, at five o’clock, seven o’clock, eleven o’clock, you’re going, Oh God. And you just do the same thing again tomorrow and the list never ends. And it’s how you can come in with an intentional focus that I think is wonderful for this new generation to take the time to learn because we need some help optimizing.


[00:44:45] Rodney Apple: right. There are future leaders are out there. We appreciate your time today, Andrew. Thanks for sharing your perspectives, S&OP, IDP, fascinating field. Maybe it’ll be called boss one day. Like you said earlier. So I give

[00:44:59] Andrew Schneider: that one freely, no trade. I like

[00:45:02] Rodney Apple: it. I think it’s, I think it’s a unique spin, but it is very accurate in terms of

[00:45:08] Andrew Schneider: thank you for what you do and the whole talent management group, because gosh, the metrics of this field is growing like gangbusters and will.

Other projections and it’s because the lack of academic treatment, there’s still not as many bachelors and masters degrees in this discipline as you see for others, businesses know they need it. They worked somewhere where it worked well, but they are looking for people to come in and guide them. It’s not like you’re going to sit in a role and have a playbook of here’s how you spend every minute of every day.

Here’s an S. O. P. For using the restroom. There was a lot of manifest destiny that comes in with seek to understand before being understood, but then immediately guiding and shaping and making impacts in a business. So thank you for helping put people in those roles and giving them the chance to do that.

[00:45:50] Rodney Apple: That’s something that has been a passion for a number of years. And I still wake up every day, excited to come in and do it again. So I appreciate that. Thanks for listening audience. And again, thank you, Andrew. We appreciate your time today. Thank you.

[00:46:06] Mike Ogle: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Supply Chain Careers Podcast. Be sure to listen to other episodes and sign up to be notified when future episodes are released as we continue to interview industry leading supply chain experts. This podcast is made possible by SCM Talent Group, the industry leading supply chain executive search firm.

Visit SCM Talent Group at scmtalent. com.

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