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Author's profile photo Ekta Narang

Design to Operate: Run a Resilient, Sustainable Supply Chain

Companies today require a high degree of resilience to survive, or even thrive, during periods of massive disruption, as evidenced by the 2020 global pandemic.  This resilience is enabled in large part by supply chains that are digitally connected and able to respond effectively to the threats or impacts of such disruptions.

This describes the SAP Digital Supply Chain Intelligent.

The Design to Operate framework provides a seamlessly connected supply chain that is enriched by intelligent technologies across SAP S/4HANA®. The initial scope of Design to Operate is delivered as hybrid scenario, with innovations delivered from SAP S/4HANA  and with SAP Digital Supply Chain solutions. This initial scope focuses on the industrial machinery and components industry and is being expanded over time.

Design to Operate addresses several sub-processes such as Idea to Market, Plan to Fulfill and Acquire to Decommission, both with cloud-to-cloud and hybrid integrations.

Sub-process Overview

Idea to market is a sub-process of Design to Operate and covers the inception of a product idea, to its definition into a product design and Engineering requirements.

A business generates product or feature ideas internally or receives them through feedback mechanisms from customers or business partners. A product or feature improvement idea could, for example, stem from a maintenance technician who shares her / his request for product improvement via the SAP Asset Intelligence Network. Engineers then translate an idea into product requirements and system concepts for a new or redesigned product. They also create product designs and evaluate the financial impact of the changes they made before handing over the information to manufacturing.

Idea to Market brings together SAP S/4HANA, SAP Product Lifecycle Management, SAP Enterprise Product Development, SAP 3D Visual Enterprise and SAP Asset Intelligence Network.

Key integrations:

  • SAP Enterprise Product Development is integrated with Qualtrics for requirements acquisition through product feedback and data capture.
  • SAP Enterprise Product Development – Product Cockpit: improvement requests from SAP Asset Intelligence Network displayed in manufacturer’s product cockpit as input for product requirements and systems engineering. The information includes requirements, product feedback, test cases, 3D models, and data from other systems. The Product Cockpit provides you with the following:
    • Information related to test management objects
    • Support for data from the Visualization cloud service for SAP Enterprise Product Development
    • Direct access to materials and bills of materials information in SAP S/4HANA
    • Enables you to gather product feedback

Plan to Fulfill is a sub-process of Design to Operate that describes the journey of product-related information through the stages of supply and demand planning, manufacturing and logistics.

When Engineering defines a re-designed or a newly designed product, Supply Chain Planners start to create demand and supply plans as well as production schedules. The Supply Chain Planners also collaborate with the Procurement counterparts to purchase newly defined components or materials. Manufacturing receives information about the new product from Engineering and executes on various production steps. The finished product is warehoused and then transported as customer orders are received.

Plan to Fulfill brings together SAP S/4HANA, SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain, SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud, SAP Logistics Business Network, global track and trace option, SAP Asset Intelligence Network and SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite.

Key integrations:

Acquire to Decommission is a sub-process of Design to Operate which captures the lifetime of an industrial asset as it is received, onboarded and maintained at a customer’s (operator’s) site.

After a business receives an industrial asset from its manufacturer, they technically onboard the asset using SAP Intelligent Asset Management solutions. Assets are then monitored and maintained, leveraging intelligent technologies such as IoT and machine learning. This allows for any kind of asset maintenance with integrations into other domains (finance, sourcing and procurement, etc.) and collaboration with business partners to optimize asset performance. An operator can also suggest product improvements by sharing their feedback directly with the manufacturer.

Bringing together SAP S/4HANA, SAP S/4HANA Asset Management for Resource Scheduling, SAP Asset Intelligence Network, SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service, SAP Asset Strategy and Performance Management and SAP Internet of Things.

Key integrations:

  • SAP Asset Intelligence Network integration with SAP S/4HANA: Supports automatic sharing scenarios for an improved process flow, with the addition of sharing patterns to the network authorizations application to enable automatic sharing for your equipment
  • SAP Predictive Maintenance and Service with SAP S/4HANA​: option to automatically close alerts that are assigned to maintenance notifications when the maintenance notifications are closed


  • Integration between SAP SuccessFactors and SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud, to ensure consumption of employee master data, availability and qualifications at shop floor for efficient real-time shop floor planning
  • Extend Network Supply Chain collaboration scenarios:
    • Subcontracting: Get basic subcontracting scenarios productive for SAP S/4HANA  to SAP Ariba
    • MRP exceptions: Enable MRP PO change request collaboration for SAP S/4HANA to SAP Ariba
    • Supplier collaboration (SAP Ariba) integration with SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain

Design to Operate helps businesses transform into an intelligent enterprise by providing them with:

  • A resilient and sustainable digital supply chain with best-of-breed capabilities, combined with seamless connectivity to enable a Digital Thread of the entire supply chain. Through sustainability embedded in SAP, we can steer towards decarbonization, zero waste and a safer workforce.
  • Agility to sense, predict and respond to disruptions by
    • Eliminating silos across design, planning, manufacturing, delivery and operations
    • Increasing responsiveness through Synchronized Planning which renders production, network and distribution planning as a continuum
  • Productivity and Hyper-automation with Industry 4.0 by
    • Transforming value chains with Industry 4.0 capabilities
    • Enabling new business models through the business network and multi-enterprise ecosystem collaboration
    • Digitizing and combining manufacturing automation, Intelligent Asset Management and Logistics with enterprise business execution
  • Connectivity with SAP Business Network which enables visibility and next-level collaboration with business partners in a supply chain network.

To learn more about our solution innovations, visit the SAP Roadmap Explorer.

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