Fry-for-all: how Agristo uses SAP IBP to match customer demand to production planning
850,000 tonnes of frozen potato products. Over 1,000 employees. For Agristo, potatoes are their bread and butter. But with so many products, how do you keep track of customer demand and optimize production? That’s where SAP IBP and Flexso come in. The goal? Produce 1 million tonnes by 2025.
Translating customer needs into demand management
For this ambitious growth plan, Agristo needed three things:
- Business support to review and optimize the demand process.
- Automation wherever possible – too much of the demand planning took place manually in Excel files.
- A futureproof foundation for demand planning, production planning and sales and operations planning (S&OP).
“Demand management translates our customer needs and provides the base for building a long-term sales volume plan, a customer volume plan, and a product volume plan”, Lien Dewulf, Demand Manager at Agristo, explains. “It’s the missing link between our production process and customer needs and expectations.”
From a single data set to a specific approach
Before optimizing its demand management, Agristo used a single data set for production planning, S&OP and strategic planning. “We had to make the shift from demand planning to demand management. That meant rethinking our process and expand our capabilities”, Lien explains. “Therefore, we invested in automation and created demand profiles for each type of customer. Last but not least, we split our demand planning process into 3 lines: sales plan, consensus demand and latest estimate.”
Room for improvement
Agristo already had SAP IBP implemented, but hadn’t unlocked its full potential yet. “A lot of our demand management still took place in semi-automated Excels, with manual entries and no forecasting capabilities. Safe to say, there was room for improvement”, Lien laughs. “From rethinking the entire demand process to automating it and assigning responsibilities and investing in reporting: we had a lot to do!”
tackled the project in 3 phases”, Sander Anthierens, SCM Consultant at Flexso,
explains. “First, we prepared and explored the as-is system: what do we keep,
what features should we improve upon and what additional features should we
add? From there, we planned our different sprints according to priorities. And
last, we have an ongoing support phase, which is managed via tickets and periodic status meetings.”
How demand planning works at Agristo
The demand planning process takes data from S/4HANA and BW4HANA and imports it into SAP IBP. There, this data is preprocessed via segmentation based on product importance and forecastability. This is then used as input for statistical forecasts on a weekly basis, which can be enriched manually by the planners. It also allows for collaboration with customers via customer forecasts.
Thanks to SAP IBP, demand management at Agristo now ticks all these boxes – and more:
✔️ product and customer knowledge thanks to forecast accuracy measurements
✔️ forecastability knowledge thanks to ABC XYZ segmentations
✔️ automation in statistical forecasting
✔️ focus on priorities thanks to dashboards
And that’s just the beginning! Lien: “Now we have the basics in place, it’s time to roll this out across our entire portfolio. And of course, we’ll learn along the way: about our customers, changing circumstances, new products… Our business is always on the move.”