One of the forgotten but vital areas of manufacturing is operations management of the processes that happen between the taking of orders and their delivery back to a customer. Many initiatives such as Lean Manufacturing and TQM have been focused at improving this process, however it is my experience that certain parts of the whole seemed to have been missed by many of the well-known ERP packages, and so a special software market has grown up. These packages are targeted at all levels of the manufacturing spectrum from the very large enterprise to the small manufacturer. They provide mechanisms to control the allocation of the resources to keep in balance supply and demand. One of the players in this market is Symphony Metreo, part of Symphony Technology Group. At the end of May 2008, I had a briefing with Bennett Indart, their VP of Marketing and Business Development.
The Symphony Technology Group was founded in 2002. They have a mission statement to invest in and operate excellent technology companies. The combined revenues of the group last year reached $2.1 billion, which represented a double digit growth over the prior year. The Group has some 7,000 employees. The group includes Aldata, Capco and IRI as well as Symphony Metreo. Symphony Technology Group is also a significant minority shareholder many other companies including Lawson.
Symphony Metreo have their headquarters in Palo Alto, California. Besides their Operations Management suite they have 2 other product lines: Enterprise Pricing Suite and Performance Management Platform. The company was formed in 2007 by combining SymphonyRPM with Metreo. They have some 200 customers worldwide, including Hagermayer, Owens Corning, Honeywell, Linksys and Harris Stratex. The Performance Management Platform is OEM'd by Agile, IRI and Sungard BancWare. IBM Global Business Services are the main implementation partner and both IBM and SAP are technology partners.
Symphony Metreo has the following stated hypothesis, "Financial planning and operational execution are disconnected in many companies in terms of management approach, business systems and processes resulting in inconsistent performance, misaligned objectives and myopic decision making."
Figure 1: Solving the disconnected planning and execution processes (Source: Symphony Metreo)
What Symphony Metreo sees is that there is a disconnect not only horizontally between the management of price, operations and offerings, but also vertically between strategy, for instance of financial management, which is done at the aggregate level, and the tactical everyday world in operations. These disconnects lead to barriers and inefficient information exchange, which lead to missed opportunities. Symphony Metreo's FS&OP product solution puts in place a strategic functional planning layer that connects the top-down financial plan to the bottom-up operational layers, and breaks down the silos, for a more efficient and proactive business.
FS&OP Manager aligns the organization, so that it easier for operations to formulate responses to the market, competitive pressures, and unexpected events that further the strategic goals of the organisation. It monitors the events affecting forward supply and demand, and highlights the changes that have the biggest impact on corporate targets. FS&OP Manager has analytics and modelling capabilities which can be used by operations decision-makers to:
- Monitor performance in real time,
- Model decisions in a collaborative process with other areas in the business, and
- Execute decisions to internal systems with write-back capabilities.
Symphony Metreo FS&OP Manager provides the following capabilities:
- Projections: the solution can be used to predict a trend by extending current time-based data forward. Several forecasting and smoothing algorithms are provided, or the use can use their own methods.
- Collaboration: share live scenario models for joint cross-functional problem solving and issue resolution. Seamless integration with standard email systems.
- ScenarioFlow: guide users through each step of the operations planning workflow using a set of configurable analysis workflow templates.
- Advanced Analysis: support for all the common analysis capabilities, e.g., drilling, pivot, drag-n-drop rows and columns, hide/show dimensions, and more.
Symphony Metreo compliments FS&OP Manager with a suite of Enterprise Pricing Solutions that help to complete the Operations Management vision by bringing together the disciplines of Volume and Price management together for an Integrated Business Planning view of Revenue across the organization. Symphony Metreo's suite of pricing solutions includes:
- Price Planner, which bridges the gap between the pricing assumptions required to hit the financial plan, and resulting price points required at product segment level to achieve it. Additionally, it supports the continuous improvement of the Price Plan.
- Guideline Manager, which is a price setting application. It gives organizations the ability to manage and execute pricing strategies across products and segments and to deliver consistent segment level guidelines to the field in order to meet business objectives.
- Price Manager, which allows pricing and product managers to quickly manage their price strategy versus the competition and to set new prices and measure the impact of these price changes to continuously keep pace with changing market dynamics.
- Vision, which analyzes and highlights problem areas by providing a means of understanding where current pricing policies are leaving money on the table and providing a strategy for gaining market share.
- Response, which evaluates customer sales requests to create guidance on obtaining profitable deals by applying best practice.
- Deal Analyzer, which allows companies to assess deals by evaluating different scenarios for deal improvement, and by providing visibility to key information that can lead to leakage control and margin gains. It contains a time-based alert system with support for multiple alert type including Price, Discount, Margin, Multiplier, Customer, Product and Sales Person.
Symphony Metreo is a technology enabler of "Make The Number Approach" developed by Mark Payne. This approach supports all functions within a business. MTNA allows a business to continuously plan, decide, and adjust the future demand and supply activity, in order to maximize profit potential. So if your company has those sorts of issues, Bloor would recommend a close look at Symphony Metreo's FS&OP Manager and the complementary pricing solutions.