Steve Rampton

Recent Posts

Planning in the time of Coronavirus: Leveraging the power of tools such as SAP® Integrated Business Planning

Posted by Steve Rampton on 01-Jun-2020 14:05:42

First of all, apologies for abusing the title of Gabriel García Márquez’s well regarded book Love in the Time of Cholera. However, it is set in a time of great volatility veering on the apocalyptic which is appropriate to our current situation.

My starting point for this article is that, for the most part, we have had a relatively benign environment economically across the globe for the last 50 to 75 years or so with continuous growth. There have of course been significant disruptions due to wars, famines and epidemics such as Ebola, SARS, MERS and Avian Flu. With the exception of the 2009 Crash, they have generally been contained or limited to one region and economic activity on the whole continued without disruption.

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Can we encourage planners away from spreadsheets?

Posted by Steve Rampton on 29-May-2019 22:37:18

I have the dubious privilege of having been working prior to the invention of both the personal computer (PC) and applications such as spreadsheets and word processors. Since their arrival, there has been an explosion in the use of spreadsheets to plan all areas of businesses large and small. While this has delivered significant value it doesn’t come without some disadvantages. This blog describes these drawbacks and discusses one alternative planning platform, Anaplan, which can retain many of the advantages of spreadsheets while avoiding the negative aspects.

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Topics: Supply Chain, Anaplan, Connected Planning

A planner’s Excel sheet loaded to SAP IBP using CPI-DS

Posted by Steve Rampton on 06-Jul-2018 07:05:01

In our experience, most customers have planning data held on spreadsheets, with e.g. ProdLoc or ProdCust by row and a time dimension in each column, similar to the view below;

But! In order to send the above forecast data into SAP Integrated Business (IBP) via Cloud Platform Integration – Data Services (CPI-DS), there can only be a single row per time period, similar to the view below (note that the data is loaded in to a staging table prior to committing to the HANA database);

Obviously such manual reformatting of data every time a load is required for SAP IBP is a waste of planner time and effort.


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Topics: Integration Services, SAP IBP, CPI-DS

Leveraging VBA to enhance the user experience in SAP Integrated Business Planning

Posted by Steve Rampton on 06-Nov-2017 11:17:18

SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP) is SAP’s next-generation planning application, which uses the computational power of SAP HANA to enable a truly integrated and collaborative planning process.

SAP have also recognised their past problems with somewhat un-intuitive user interfaces and have invested a great deal of thought into the underlying technology and implementation of the interfaces with which users interact with the system. Of course supply planners are not an easy group to please: they usually work in high pressure environments where time is limited and ease of use vital. To further complicate the issue, the user community for an IBP process is much wider than just Demand & Supply Planning and brings in the Finance and Sales departments among others

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Topics: Excel Add-In, SAP IBP, Integrated Business Planning, VBA

Financialising your plan in SAP Integrated Business Planning

Posted by Steve Rampton on 27-Oct-2016 18:48:05

For those of you exposed to the full force of SAP marketing for SAP Integrated Business Planning, I’m sure you will have heard the phrase ‘financialising the plan’. But have you ever stopped to think about why this is beneficial and what this means in practice when it comes to implementing it in SAP IBP?

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Topics: IBP, IBP for Demand, S&OP

Collaborate with SAP Integrated Business Planning Sales and Operations

Posted by Steve Rampton on 16-May-2016 18:32:45

As conceived by the Oliver Wight International modern Integrated Business Planning (IBP) means breaking down the functional silos that exist in many enterprises today and truly working together to achieve common objectives. In this article I want to explore why collaborative working is important, the different tools available and the functionality that SAP Integrated Business Planning itself delivers in this area.

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Topics: IBP, S&OP, Collaboration, SAP Jam

SAP IBP Excel Views- A planner’s dream?

Posted by Steve Rampton on 24-Mar-2016 02:54:15

The main user interface for SAP Integrated Business Planning is Microsoft Excel using a special Excel Add-In provided with the product. In this article I want to explore if and why this interface will satisfy the needs of planners. Let’s start by having a look at where spreadsheets originated from, and then what planners need from the tools that support them.


The history of the spreadsheet

I’ve been around long enough to remember a world without electronic spreadsheets – a world that instead either involved pens, paper and calculators or punched cards, a mainframe and reams of printed output. In my first career as a Mechanical and Manufacturing Systems Engineer working for Dunlop, Chloride and Lucas, I had what in retrospect was the privilege of witnessing the birth of the personal computer and the early PC spreadsheet applications such as VisiCalc, SuperCalc and Lotus 1-2-3.

It is also worth pointing out that at that time in the mid 1980’s, I had a DEC micro-computer on my desk where the computer was contained inside the VDU (a screen to youngsters) and the operating system, application and data were all held in RAM. Said computer was used to control manufacturing machines in real time. So some concepts are perhaps not so new!

Figure 1: VisiCalc running on an Applell (source wikipedia)

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Topics: IBP, Excel Add-In

SAP Integrated Business Planning: The Future Executive S&OP Review

Posted by Steve Rampton on 15-Mar-2016 13:21:21

During the SAP SCM (R)evolution, the Olivehorse team reanacted what an "Executive Review of the Future" would look like using SAP Integrated Business Planning for Sales & Operations Planning.

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Topics: IBP, S&OP

SAP SCM (R)evolution: What is SAP Integrated Business Planning about?

Posted by Steve Rampton on 07-Mar-2016 12:02:39

On the 25th February 2016, SAP and Olivehorse hosted the first customer event in the UK covering a Supply Chain Planning cloud solution: SAP Integrated Business Planning. Held at SAP UK’s Maidenhead Offices, specialist areas such as SCM don’t usually attract large numbers but this event attracted nearly 50 attendees. Equally gratifying was that the attendees came from a wide range of industries: manufacturing, pharma, oil and gas, and consumer goods.

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Topics: IBP, SAP IBP

SAP IBP Sales & Operations Planning

Posted by Steve Rampton on 27-Oct-2015 09:51:03

In our discussions with customers around the world, it is clear that following the introduction of SAP’s Integrated Business Planning (IBP) there, is still a great deal of uncertainty and confusion around SAP’s SCM roadmap.

Where do the various Supply Chain Products fit with each other?

Does the new suite of SAP HANA based products replace SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO)?

In this post I intend to focus on Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), but in subsequent posts I plan to cover the other products in IBP.

For SAP to stay in the game, the ability to react to the huge changes taking place in business is critical. In particular, those resulting from customer expectations regarding rapid product innovation and speed of delivery as well as customer knowledge about alternatives (via Social Networks and the Web). SAP’s software has to enable businesses to transform what were previously Supply Chains into Demand Networks to respond faster to customer needs.

So where does S&OP sit?

Well to start, it is useful to look at how SAP categorise their Supply chain portfolio:

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Topics: IBP