Enhancing planning and scheduling with SAP S/4 PP/DS

Overview of the latest news in the next evolution of planning.

15 April 2024

The tools and systems that support complex business processes must advance in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. PP/DS for S/4HANA, formerly known as ePP/DS, is here to stay, marking a new era in the realm of supply chain and production planning. 

This first article in our article series about SAP PP/DS will introduce you to SAP S/4HANA’s Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS) module – a modern successor to the previous APO PP/DS – and how it integrates with SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP) to deliver end-to-end planning solutions. 

SAP was founded in 1972 and has since then been a market leader in delivering new innovations for the end-to-end digitalisation of organisations. In 1998, the first version of SAP’s APS application APO (Advanced Planning and Optimization) was launched. In the years that followed, this established SAP as the market leader in supply chain planning. However, in 2015, SAP IBP was introduced as the new kid on the block in planning. But one piece was missing from the functionality suite – production planning and detailed scheduling (PP/DS). 

A few years later in 2018, PP/DS was launched as an embedded version of the ERP suite S/4. In this article, we will explore what is new, what has changed and whether SAP still delivers end-to-end planning capabilities.

The shift from APO PP/DS to S/4 PP/DS

For years, SAP’s Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO) toolset has been at the forefront of planning technology. However, the transition to S/4 PP/DS represents a significant evolution, harnessing the in-memory capabilities of SAP S/4HANA to deliver a more streamlined, powerful and real-time planning experience. 

From an IT architecture point of view, embedding PP/DS in S/4 is a major change. However, it also makes sense from a business point of view, as the production planning and scheduling process is typically very closely linked and often overlapping with the execution processes in production, warehouse, sales and distribution, logistics etc. Thus, bringing the tool closer to execution is a benefit from the perspective of business users.

From an IT perspective, the “move” has resulted in a much-simplified integration setup. While the CIF (core interface) remains, the setup has become highly automated, and 90% of the IT setup work has been removed. 

To summarise, here are some of the immediate benefits:

  • Highly simplified installation and activation of S/4 PP/DS compared to APO
  • No interface setup, no batch-job setup and scheduling
  • Shared master data with S/4
  • Native real-time integration with SAP IBP
  • Simplified master data setup
  • Cloud deployment
  • Closer link to execution processes

Seamless integration with SAP IBP

PP/DS for S/4HANA fits perfectly into the bigger picture of end-to-end planning when used in conjunction with SAP IBP. SAP IBP provides a cloud-based platform that delivers strategic, S&OP and tactical planning capabilities across the entire supply chain. The combination of IBP for mid-term/long-term planning and S/4 PP/DS for short-term, detailed scheduling empowers organisations to synchronise their strategies with operational execution more effectively than ever before. 

In addition, with the native real-time integration interface for SAP IBP and S/4, users can experience true synchronised planning for the end-to-end process.

What is new with PP/DS for SAP S/4HANA from a functionality perspective?

S/4 PP/DS introduces several significant enhancements (with more to come) that cater to the evolving needs of the business and IT landscape:

  • Improved integration with IBP: S/4 PP/DS now delivers improved integration with IBP. Since PP/DS is now fully embedded in SAP S/4HANA, it allows for a unified data model and eliminates the need for complex data replication processes. This ensures that planning decisions are based on real-time data, leading to increased accuracy and efficiency.
  • New advanced heuristics and optimisers: the new PP/DS includes new sophisticated algorithms that provide better planning results. These include a new and improved PP optimiser, SBC (supply-based confirmation) with tight integration with aATP as well as a heuristic for considering flexible constraint planning. These tools can handle complex scenarios and constraints, ensuring optimal resource utilisation and adherence to delivery commitments.
  • Enhanced user experience: maybe the most noticeable change from a user perspective is the new user interface (UI). The web-based Fiori user interface in PP/DS offers a modern, intuitive experience that simplifies the user’s interaction with the planning system. This results in improved productivity and faster adoption of the system. Furthermore, the Fiori applications are “plug and play”, enabling faster roll-outs and greater standardisation.
  • Real-time analytics, alerts and reporting: with the power of HANA, S/4 PP/DS provides real-time analytics that enable planners to make informed decisions quickly. This capability is crucial to responding to dynamic market demands. 
  • Tighter process integration with aATP (formerly gATP in APO): the new system provides improved capabilities at the intersection between ATP and order confirmation through synergies with aATP (advanced ATP). This enables a better approach to responding quickly to customer requests based on capacity planning and detailed scheduling, allowing planning managers to fine-tune production processes to meet specific operational goals.

Examples of apps from the Fiori browser-based user interface

Conclusion – summarising the benefits for IT and business

The enhancements of PP/DS for S/4 provide tangible benefits for IT and business users:

  • Streamlined IT operations: the integration with S/4HANA simplifies the IT landscape, resulting in lower maintenance costs and a reduced need for interface management.
  • Improved usability through a standardised and modernised user interface for faster user adoption. 
  • Agile end-to-end business processes with S/4 PP/DS and IBP: real-time data and advanced planning capabilities enable businesses to be more agile, reacting swiftly to changes in demand or supply conditions. 
  • New PP/DS functionality: by enabling more accurate planning and scheduling, organisations can better meet delivery deadlines, leading to increased customer satisfaction.

SAP PP/DS for S/4HANA represents a leap forward in the realm of supply chain and production planning. Its tight integration with SAP IBP for end-to-end planning ensures that businesses remain agile, responsive and competitive in today’s challenging landscape.

Stay tuned for upcoming articles and events, where we will dive deeper into specific S/4 PP/DS functionalities and use cases.

Do you need help with supply chain planning? 

Implement Consulting Group is your partner in unlocking the full potential of end-to-end planning with SAP S/4 PP/DS and IBP. Our expertise in supply chain planning ensures a seamless and value-driven transition to this next-generation tool. 

Contact us to find out how we can help you transform your planning processes.

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