As part of its strategy to create industry-specific solutions, Salesforce released last year its Manufacturing Cloud targeted primarily to the specific needs of global manufacturers. I was personally super excited as I spent my young, golden years implementing manufacturing systems. I found this announcement intriguing and I was eager to learn this new cloud and see how I could combine my Salesforce knowledge and years of manufacturing experience to create innovative solutions for my customers.
The first question that came to my mind was: Manufacturing Cloud sounds pretty cool, but how different is this Manufacturing Cloud from the regular Sales or Service Clouds? Would it be similar to Health Cloud or Financial Service Cloud in which it’s more of a managed package and lives in its own model? What license types would my customer need to make it work for their specific use cases? How do opportunities and contracts fit into the new model?
Quickly I learned that unlike Salesforce Health Cloud and Financial Cloud, Manufacturing Cloud is built on the core. It only works on the Lighting platform and introduces new objects such as Sales Agreements and Account Forecasting. It also integrates with business process functionality to manage and track the sales agreement lifecycle and help customers with their account forecasting.
While this functionality is probably designed around what we consider core manufacturing in the Salesforce ecosystem, these Manufacturing Cloud components and functionality could also apply to other industries such as Consumer Goods, High Tech, and Med Devices.
Manufacturing Cloud Use Cases
(and how the new Manufacturing Cloud Objects support them)
These are common in manufacturing and are basically legal documents that detail the terms agreed to between manufacturers and buyers (customers or distributors). It contains schedules specifying the products to be manufactured and price and quantities agreed upon by both parties. And complex legal documents that are important and that need to be tracked for compliance.
The terms vary but it will typically be the commitment of a customer/distributor to agree to buy X number of products at negotiated $Y price during a defined duration of time (6,12.36 months for example) and on the manufacturer/producer side details responsibility and compliance to produce these products and quantities for the buyer at the agreed-upon price and time specified terms.
Normally sales agreements include clauses such as variation on plus/minus order quantities based on the uncertainty of their demand from end customers. So these are important to track as it is typical that these do occur during the life of the agreement. Covid-19 is a perfect example of this.
As Sales Agreements take effect, distributors or customers send orders for specific quantities that are cut against these Sales Agreements. For example, an order from the customer Fiat is received for 100 pallets of audio stereo Model A. These quantities are deducted from the Sales Agreement as soon as the pallets are delivered.
I have seen some customers also refer to these Sales Agreements as operation plans that include some of these expected planned numbers typically calculated from their ERPs, production/demand planning systems or Excel sheets in some cases. If a former Sales Agreement is not available some of these assets can be used via integration or manually populating the Sales Agreement object and orders as they should contain planned scheduled production quantities.
This new Manufacturing cloud includes a new Sales Agreement standard object and business logic to manage the full lifecycle, track Sales Agreements metrics such as planned vs actual quantities, order status and price, and monitor performance compliance against each of these Sales Agreements. One feature that I found interesting and that I think will be useful is adding your own metrics to the Sales Agreement. Metrics as Inventory Levels that come from your supply chain systems customer satisfaction giving you visibility into a customer’s health.
The main purpose of this Sales Agreementobject again is to give Account Managers/Demand planners or Managers one object with critical and compliance information. I would advise customers that they keep the execution of their operation should still reside in the ERP or production planning system.
In addition to this information, the Sales Agreement object can also be complemented with its related list and orders, contracts, and relevant documents making it highly valuable to the Manufacturing user personas.
Forecasting is a vital component for manufacturing companies and it is primarily used to properly plan resources and capacity allocation to meet customer demand. Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud incorporates Account Based Forecasting to allow product and/or revenue forecasting. It comes with a formula builder to create your own calculations for example using Sales Agreement quantities or order quantities and creating your own formula.
The Account Based Forecasting interface incorporates functionality to show important metrics such as planned quantities vs actuals, discounts, sales price, forecast quantities as well as variances to monitor and keep in check Sales Agreement compliance.
An important part of the interface is that users can override forecast numbers for a single cell or a mass update if needed to adjust plus/minus quantities or revenue numbers. It is important to note that the forecasts will not roll up to parent Accounts as per current out of the box functionality.
Partner Collaboration Portal
During my tenure at automotive manufacturing companies, I participated in several projects in which we implemented different kinds of vendor and supplier collaboration portals with the intent of our automotive customers to exchange information with their suppliers, vendors, and customers. Those projects were long and complex as the technology wasn’t capable of delivering a seamless experience. So when I see a template specifically designed for manufacturing that can be implemented with just a couple of clicks, it just blows my mind. Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud comes with an industry-specific template that you can use and customize as needed to collaborate with your distributors and customers. The template allows you to share the Sales Agreements creating transparent communications.
The collaboration options are endless and include tasks to work with your partners on new deals, jointly monitor and track Sales Agreements, update the status on POs and invoices, share product information and catalogs, place orders, joint marketing efforts as well as sharing critical KPI metrics that will benefit both, by using dashboards and reports.
Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing Cloud
Manufacturing Cloud also comes with a set of Einstein Analytics dashboards, tailored to Sales Agreements and Account Management use cases. These are designed to keep you informed of which accounts are contributing the most to revenue and the breakdown of actuals vs planned and provide visibility into your upcoming month forecast, most valuable accounts, account contribution among many of the nice dashboards created for this app and ready to be used out of the box.
In addition, the Sales Manufacturing Cloud Einstein out of the box app comes with two ready to use Einstein Discovery use cases: Maximize Sales Agreement Product Renewal and a second one for Price Prediction for Products and Schedules.
Since you have the Einstein Analytics Plus licenses you can also deploy embedded intelligence to predict account churn/attrition rate, supplier risk, and propensity to buy as some of the common cases for manufacturers.
How do Opportunities Translate into Sales Agreements?
Currently, there is no direct functionality to auto-convert an opportunity or quote to a Sales Agreement. You have the option of applying Process Builder to automate the process and create the Sales Agreement after the Opportunity is closed won. The same applies to Opportunity Schedules and CPQ Quotes.
The mapping is pretty straightforward: the Sales Agreement will be created using the account for the opportunity and the products will flow into the Sales Agreement product lines and schedule.
There are two main types of licenses for Manufacturing Cloud as per the current release. In the Salesforce Sales world, we call these SKUs which may evolve as this cloud becomes more mature. The two types of licenses are The standard Manufacturing Cloud license and the Manufacturing Cloud CRM license. You can also acquire Manufacturing cloud add-ons if there is a need for Partner Community or Einstein Analytics manufacturing specific components. Moreover, according to the Salesforce team, customers can swap existing Salesforce Cloud licenses to Manufacturing Cloud if there is a need for the functionality that comes with it. Always check with your Salesforce Sales Executive or Salesforce partner for more details.
When you get the Manufacturing Cloud license you will get all Sales Cloud features plus the Manufacturing Cloud features which include Sales Agreements and Account-based forecasting.
If Service Cloud functionality is needed then you will need to move up in licensing and get the Manufacturing Cloud CRM license which will bring all the functionality that comes with the Service cloud.
Add on components were created specially targeted to the SF Manufacturing Cloud and include:
- Partner Community for Manufacturing which is a prebuilt Community Template tailored to Manufacturers.
- Einstein Analytics for Manufacturing is another add on that can be added with a prebuilt set of dashboards designed for manufacturing customers.
The Future is Bright for the Manufacturing Cloud
Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud includes great functionality that many of our customers are eager to get their hands on and implement as it helps fill the gap that existed with the manufacturing industry.
The Sales Agreement object is a great step in providing manufacturers with a 360° view of their customers, distributors, and partners. The Einstein Analytics component will further enhance the value by adding intelligence to predict customer churn rate along with manufacturing functional dashboards.
For me, the icing on the cake for this new Manufacturing Cloud is the Manufacturing Partner Community that allows our manufacturing customers to collaborate in a variety of ways to improve communication and collaboration with their distributors and partners making it a well rounded and top of the class solution.
I am definitely looking forward to future releases of Salesforce Manufacturing Cloud.