Last week, River Logic, a technology firm with a mission to establish prescriptive analytics and optimization capabilities in business planning and decision support needs announced a new Cloud based platform, Prescriptive Planning and Performance Management. In addition to the platform, a flagship application built on the platform was also released to help support decision making for S&OP/Integrated Business Planning. Supply Chain Matters had the opportunity to participate in a pre-briefing related to this application and this author was somewhat impressed with the functionality and potential business benefits for customers.
As noted in a Supply Chain Matters market education commentary published in January, while the term integrated business planning is sometimes depicted as a specific technology or application, it is really about the need for enterprise functions of a firm to be aligned towards a single set of financial, line-of-business, product and operational outcomes. The Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process is often the most likely mechanism for consideration of enterprise-wide integrated business planning because it consist of multi-functional representation and supports executive-level decision-support. Where the S&OP processes can often stumble, especially with today’s faster cycles of business decisions is when a lack of enterprise level information integration such as financial and product planning data occurs or when support teams constantly struggle to gather, classify and continually align such information.
River Logic’s corporate roots stem from building holistic optimization models including supply, demand and financial capabilities supporting cash management for banks as well as price, procurement and trade promotion optimization. The key implementers of such tools were corporate strategy consultants with deep financial knowledge who helped drive the connectivity between operational and financial data models needed to perform forward looking prescriptive analytics.
River Logic teams recognized that many supply chain organizations often encounter difficulties with the ability to implement full optimization based planning capabilities. Instead, most, especially those in complex ERP support environments such as SAP, opt on a less-complex, heuristics based approach which limits the benefits of end-to-end supply chain analytics that can address detailed order line-item demand, splitting of resource requirements or identifying or optimizing total supply chain throughput constraints. A natural evolution for River Logic has been to augment its financial modeling and operations knowledge into abilities for S&OP teams to optimize on cross-functionally defined operational, tactical or financial constraint criteria such as cash balances, gross margin, service level, inventory or net income, to name a few.
The architecture of this application consists of two components. The first is the River Logic platform developed on components of Microsoft Azure platform-as-a-service technology, designed to support end-to-end prescriptive analytics focused planning and performance management via a three-part planning technique consisting of Plan, Optimize and Track. The second component is configurable and scalable applications that are built either by River Logic, its partners or customers. The platform and applications are built from OLAP data cubes supported by in-memory based technology.
River Logic Plan supports the ability of the S&OP process to create and support a product demand and supply plan, the ability to organize and update master data related to business profiles, and support for overall end-to-end planning workflow management. Key capabilities consist of a relatively user-friendly executive dashboard, product demand analytics including a full-blown product demand planning capability, scenario comparison, factory analytics and a self-service report generator. The tool further allows support for workflow management.
River Logic Optimize supports the ability to model required decisions that relate to strategic objectives of the organization, policies associated to the end-to-end supply chain such as inventory, service-levels or cost, the financial costs and key assumptions associated with individual business processes and end-to-end supply chain.
Once the base scenario supply chain plan information is created for the S&OP process, an organization can assess the plan generation in the context of performance, profitability, added opportunities or risk considerations. Base scenario results can be routed to other functions within the organization. The application design assumes that the financial organization is a key participant in this process thus supporting a more inclusionary and collaborative scenario or what-if management process that involves financial and sales management.
What impressed this supply chain industry analyst were the River Logic visual modeling capabilities that allow for a singular, integrated model of the enterprise business that includes physical/logical processes and financial flows. The constraints that are present within the model are referred to as levers.
The River Logic Optimize tool allows the key levers associated with the models to be exposed to business users through a compelling user experience driven tool that is built on Microsoft Azure PaaS.
Once the plan has been published to existing systems of record such as a backbone ERP system, River Logic Track provides ongoing performance management and monitoring support to assist the S&OP organization in taking any corrective actions needed to meet integrated business planning objectives. River Logic’s stated Go-to-Market is through both direct as well as partner channels. Overall this is an impressive technology, but at the same time, Implementation and adoption of this technology will require some assistance from a qualified partner to assure ultimate benefits can be garnered by the application. That is a positive message because organizations need to avoid the traps encountered by previous attempts to implement sophisticated optimization technology. To that end, River Logic has indicated plans to augment its internal training and partner focused community with the capabilities and skills required to assure successful phased implementations of respective components.
The benefits of prescriptive analytics are now closer at-hand and River Logic is one of a select few packaged software vendors that supports augmenting S&OP processes with integrated business planning capabilities.
Readers desiring further information regarding this innovative new prescriptive planning platform can visit this River Logic planning platform web site.
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Disclosure: River Logic is one of other sponsors of the Supply Chain matters blog.