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Sales and operations planning (S&OP): Empirical studies on current practices and innovative solutions

Special issue call for papers from International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management

Submission deadline: October 31, 2019

Guest Editors:

Patrik Jonsson, Professor of Operations & Supply Chain Management, Chalmers University of Technology, Email: [email protected]

Riikka Kaipia, Research Fellow, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Aalto University, Email: [email protected]

Mark Barratt, Associate Professor of Supply Chain Management, College of Business Administration, Marquette University, Email: [email protected]


S&OP as a key business process has attracted attention among supply chain practitioners, and become a common practice in manufacturing companies. Literature on S&OP has emphasized the process design, formalities of the process, and the coordination strength of the process. In general, academic literature around the topic is well-focused, but at the same time limited. Literature reviews of the topic exist, taking for example the viewpoint of contextualization (Kristensen and Jonsson 2018), coordination (Tuomikangas and Kaipia, 2014), and performance outcome (Thome et al., 2012). These reviews are singular in their findings about the scarcity of academic research on S&OP, thus indicating a need for high-quality research articles to advance the field.  

The dominant stream of literature about S&OP originates from practitioner journals and whitepapers, offering development directions and provided innovations. Descriptions of S&OP from a couple of decades ago, such as “Orchestrating success: improve control of the business with sales & operations planning” (Ling and Goddard, 1988) and “Sales and operations planning: The how-to handbook” (Wallace and Stahl, 1999), still provide valuable and timely insights to the topic. They discuss valid aspects of S&OP, for example integration with product development and financial planning, event-driven S&OP, S&OP design in complex organizations, and S&OP implementation.

The existing knowledge of S&OP offers limited support for companies in applying S&OP principles in general, and advanced S&OP forms in particular, for example Integrated Business Planning (Smith et al., 2011; Wilson and Raman, 2017). Despite of the apparent simplicity of the S&OP process, companies are struggling in realizing the promised benefits out of the process in practice. One reason is the need to adapt and design the S&OP process to fit a company’s unique context, and moreover, to incorporate a supply chain view, including customers and suppliers, to the process.

Potential areas of interest

Thus, future research is suggested to address S&OP designs adapted to specific industry contexts (Dreyer, et al. 2018), organizational characteristics such as culture and orientation (Oliva and Watson, 2011), supply chain complexity, and system/process interfaces (Kristensen and Jonsson 2018). There are also research needs related to specific designs and implementation of higher S&OP maturity levels – taking both a supply chain focus and a strategic focus (Jonsson and Holmström, 2016). Reaching high maturity levels and strengthening the role of S&OP in reaching business targets, requires simultaneously managing multiple S&OP dimensions, such as organizing, financing, process, IT and performance measurement (Danese et al. 2017). The role of advanced analytics and planning systems (Zhu et al., 2018), integrated information systems and information sharing, and involving suppliers and customers in the process (Kaipia et al., 2017), as enablers for higher S&OP maturities, also need to be understood. Another potential area for future research is the actual measuring of S&OP outcome (Goh and Eldridge, 2015; Hulthén et al. 2016) – for example in the form of studies on unintended and intended outcome.

To sum up, research lacks empirical papers and more nuanced understanding on the actual implementations of S&OP, contextualized S&OP, collaborative planning and strategic impact of S&OP, and how S&OP outcome is generated in practice. Literature contain very few documentations of high maturity implementations. Therefore, we invite original and innovative empirical papers contributing with new knowledge on S&OP. This includes exploratory studies of current practice but also design science studies contributing to new design insights to S&OP. We also see a potential of linking S&OP research to related strands of research, for example, demand and supply integration (Stank et al., 2012), collaborative planning (Barratt and Oliveira, 2001; Barratt and Barratt, 2011), supply chain risk and change management (Stank et al., 2011).

Methodologically, multiple types of theoretically-grounded empirical research methodologies will be considered for this Special Issue. Both quantitative and qualitative research as well as case-based research on both S&OP successes and failures are called for.

The list below is indicative, and by no means definitive, of the types of papers sought. Topics for this special issue may include:

1.       S&OP implementation studies: How S&OP implementation should be conducted to reach the benefits desired? What is the role of empowerment and training in the process? How to generate organizational commitment to S&OP, for example in terms of mindset and behavior? How should the S&OP organization and governance modes be designed?

2.       S&OP and company culture: What type of company culture favors S&OP, or the other way round: how S&OP transforms company culture? What is required from the leadership to favor the integrated and formal S&OP process?

3.       Contextual studies of S&OP: How should S&OP be designed to fit specific company contexts? How to apply S&OP outside manufacturing industries, in contexts such as service providers, public organizations, or retailing?

4.       Digitalization as an enabler of S&OP: How can companies utilize new data sources and analytics solutions in S&OP? How to connect data analytics as an integral part of the S&OP process?

5.       S&OP and Integrated Business Planning: What does it take to make S&OP to become a strategically important process in a company’s business planning? How can S&OP support reaching business targets?

6.       Collaborative supply chain focus of S&OP: How can companies extend their S&OP and integrate this with other supply chain planning activities and actors, in a collaborative manner?

In preparing manuscripts, authors are asked to follow the Author Guidelines here:



Barratt, M. and Oliveira, A. (2001), “Exploring the experiences of collaborative planning initiatives”, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 31. No. 4, pp.266-289.

Barratt, M. and Barratt, R. (2011), “Exploring internal and external supply chain linkages: Evidence from the field”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 29, No. 5, pp.514-528.

Danese, P., Molinaro, M., Romano, P. (2017), “Managing evolutionary paths in Sales and Operations Planning: key dimensions and sequences of implementation”, International Journal of Production Research, Vol. 56, No. 5, pp. 2036-2053.

Dreyer, H.C., Kiil. K., Dukovska-Popovska, I., Kaipia, R. (2018), "Proposals for enhancing tactical planning in grocery retailing with S&OP", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 48, No. 2, pp.114-138

Goh, S.H. and Eldridge, S., (2015), "New product introduction and supplier integration in sales and operations planning: Evidence from the Asia Pacific region", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 45, No. 9/10, pp.861-886.

Hulthén, H., Näslund, D., Norrman, A., (2016), "Framework for measuring performance of the sales and operations planning process", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 46, No. 9, pp.809-835.

Jonsson, P. and Holmström, J. (2016), “Future of supply chain planning: Closing the gaps between practice and promise”, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 62-81.

Kaipia, R., Holmström, J., Småros, J., Rajala, R. (2017), ”Information sharing for sales and operations planning: Contextualized solutions and mechanisms”, Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 52, pp. 15-29.

Kristensen, J. and Jonsson, P. (2018), "Context-based sales and operations planning (S&OP) research: A literature review and future agenda", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 19-46.

Ling, R.C. and Goddard, L.E. (1988), Orchestrating success: improve control of the business with sales & operations planning, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Oliva, R. and Watson, N. (2011), “Cross-functional alignment in supply chain planning: a case study of sales and operations planning”. Journal of Operations Management, Vol. 29, pp. 434-448.

Smith, L., Andraski, J. C., Fawcett, S. E. (2011), “Integrated business planning: A roadmap to linking S&OP and CPFR”. Journal of Business Forecasting, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 4-7,9-13.

Stank, T.P., Dittmann, J.P., Autry, C.W. (2011), “The new supply chain agenda: a synopsis and directions for future research”, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 41, No. 10, pp. 940-955.

Stank, T.P., Esper, T.L., Crook, T.R., Autry, C.W. (2012), “Creating value through demand and supply integration”, Journal of Business Logistics, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 167-172.

Thomé, A.M.T., Scavarda, L.F., Fernandez, N.S., Scavarda, A.J. (2012), “Sales and operations planning: A research synthesis”, International Journal of Production Economics, Vol. 138, No. 1, pp. 1-13.

Tuomikangas, N. and Kaipia, R. (2014), “A coordination framework for sales and operations planning (S&OP): Synthesis from the literature”, International Journal of Production Economics, Vol. 154, pp. 243-262.

Wallace T.F. and Stahl, R.A. (1999), Sales and operations planning: The how-to handbook, T.F. Wallace Company, U.S.

Wilson, E. and Raman, S., (2017) “Why is S&OP process stuck in third gear?”, Journal of Business Forecasting, Vol.36, No.1, pp.10-14.

Zhu, S., Song, J., Hazen, B.T., Lee, K., Cegielski, C. (2018), "How supply chain analytics enables operational supply chain transparency: An organizational information processing theory perspective", International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp.47-68.