Breaking Functional Barriers for Better Planning

Steelwedge emphasizes consensus view of enterprise demand in solution for high-tech, industrial manufacturers

Steelwedge emphasizes consensus view of enterprise demand in solution for high-tech, industrial manufacturers

Pleasanton, CA  September 18, 2003  Steelwedge, a provider of enterprise demand management (EDM) solutions, this week debuted its integrated software suite, Steelwedge EDM, built from the ground up for high-tech and industrial manufacturing companies and intended to give companies an accurate view of enterprise-wide demand.

The provider says that EDM works by seamlessly connecting all planning process participants and systems across sales, marketing, finance and operations, allowing executives and planner to build a more accurate enterprise-wide consensus forecast.

Steelwedge asserts that traditional operations-based approaches fail to accurately predict demand because they do not address the problem on an enterprise level. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and supply chain management (SCM) demand planning modules are designed for expert power users, and their content is limited to operational history, while forward-looking enterprise-level processes, such as sales and operations planning (S&OP), are currently based on manual processes that fail to drive consensus and disparate spreadsheets that lack credible detail, drill-down capability and consistent terminology, the solution provider says.

To bridge the gap between operational planners and sales, marketing and finance executives, Steelwedge says it weds sophisticated planning analytics to familiar desktop productivity tools like Microsoft Excel and Outlook, then adds business process management and data translation to enable a seamless consensus process. The result, the provider says, is to combine accessible user interaction, process automation, adaptive analytics and data transformation for an enterprise-wide view of demand.

"Failures to accurately forecast demand continue to plague discrete manufacturers in the current economic environment, resulting in huge inventory write-offs and lost opportunities," said Rob Schneider, CEO and president of Steelwedge. "Traditional supply chain and [enterprise resource planning (ERP)] systems simply cannot solve the demand-supply equation, because they are both too narrowly focused on operational history and too complex for business users."

Schneider said that Steelwedge EDM enables sales, marketing, finance and operations to derive a single, forward-looking version of the truth."

Current Steelwedge customers include Juniper Networks, Tellabs and FederalExpress. Christine Pfefferle, director of North American forecasting at Tellabs, said that the downturn in both the telecommunications market and the general economy underscored the flaws in her company's demand management systems and approach.

"Steelwedge Enterprise Demand Management was an important catalyst in helping us to maximize our revenue, reduce our costs and gain business efficiencies," Pfefferle said. "Steelwedge has helped Tellabs accelerate cycle times, increase fill rates and improve mix accuracy, resulting in approximately $10 million in annual savings on inventory and logistics."

Modules included in the Steelwedge EDM suite include Demand Forecasting & Planning (DF&P), intended to improve forecast accuracy and increase revenue predictability by engaging all users and departments in a managed, exception-based process. This module can be used to model complex manufacturing processes and products with the goal of delivering enhanced performance for competitive advantage.

The Sales Pipeline Management (SPM) module translates sales pipeline data into detailed forecasts that marketing, operations and finance can use, and it is intended to enable manufacturers to align sales-pipeline-based and demand-history-based forecasts, respond to changing market conditions and improve revenue predictability.

The Product Lifecycle Planning (PLP) module was designed to let planners effectively forecast and manage new products throughout their lifecycle, combining quantitative and qualitative data, market research and statistical techniques with factors such as cannibalization, supercession and "looks-like" for composite forecasting.

Finally, the Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) module is intended to automate and streamline cross-functional communication and collaboration, including scenario analysis and "what-if" capabilities for modeling the operational and financial impact of strategic options.

"The Steelwedge Enterprise Demand Management product suite has been developed to support high-tech and industrial manufacturers in synchronizing component supplies with demand plans generated from a variety of sources  rather than statistical forecasting-based demand plans that are prevalent at consumer product and life sciences companies," said Larry Lapide, Vice President, AMR Research in a September 10 research alert.

"Adding to its credibility, Steelwedge has built its product suite with a strong supply-demand collaboration focus, as embodied in one of its products, Sales & Operations Planning," said Lapide. "Our recent research shows that companies are not taking full advantage of external supply and demand data to improve internal collaborations in the S&OP process. Refreshing your S&OP process will help your company get that last drop of scarce revenue in this tough economic climate."

Privately held Steelwedge was founded in 2000 and has raised $8 million in funding from Sigma Partners and Globespan Capital Partners. The company has issued three major releases of its software suite and acquired several early customers.