As a CIO or business process owner, you are interested in or about to commit yourself to a great SAP solution: SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP). IBP is a Cloud solution, so what could go wrong? Cloud it is and fits perfectly in your IT strategy. Based on SAP HANA - a powerful in-memory database - it is definitely future-proof. In fact, it is already announced as "the follow up product" for SAP Advance Planning and Optimizer (SAP APO) and has a rich roadmap of additional functionality to come in the nearby future.

Last year I have had the pleasure of being a lead architect at a SAP IBP implementation: one of the first in the Netherlands. The project took 4 months from start to finish. IBP has brought improvement for the sales and operations processes and is currently used by an enthusiastic group of sales managers around the world. Based on my experiences from this project, I have three tips for you.

Tip 1: IBP is not ‘out of the box’

Be prepared for a great SAP solution within the Cloud that needs to be designed and configured as any other SAP solution. It is not "out of the box": IBP needs vision from your side and from the side of the consultant(s) you are about to hire. SAP IBP is by far the most inventive solution I have worked with, but in the aspect of its modelling, also a pretty complex solution. It is about storing your data, calculating, aggregating and disaggregating on the fly in numerous dimensions and time levels. With SAP IBP you can meet your future demand and profitability and speed up all kinds of planning cycles, no doubt. Be sure you hire a team that has a proven track record, in order to make your IBP solution a success. In my opinion a SAP SCM consultant is not per se fit for your IBP job. IBP has a lot of resemblance to data analysis and warehousing.

Tip 2: Logistics meets Finance: resources are scarce

SAP IBP and especially the area S&OP is about “financialising” your supply chain plan. A good S&OP project is about meeting volume based logistics and price/value based commercial controlling. In my experience specialists who have both backgrounds are scarce. Make sure you hire them!

Tip 3: Flexibility and agility is key

IBP is quite new and evolving fast. It has a lot of innovation topics on the roadmap. You are about to start a journey in the IBP world and prepare yourself to keep travelling. Make sure your team (both internal as well as external) is embracing the flexibility to adapt solutions to the new functionalities. Choose for an agile continuous improvement approach and prepare your company to work in an agile way. In this way you create results in the short term and make the flashy demos that are still echoing in your head happen for your company!

I trust that these three tips help you in your IBP journey! Don’t hesitate to contact me for more advice, check this infographic about how to make spot-on business decisions with SAP IBP or read this blog about the 7 habits of SAP IBP.