The role of the demand planner has evolved during the past years, and so are the tools available to support their ability to forecast future sales and customer demand for products in an ever changing world. The ability to plan and respond to change is more critical today than ever before as technology has changed the way customers buy, the speed at which products are developed and delivered, and the way we communicate and collaborate with our colleagues, customers and suppliers around the world.
Today, the role of the Demand Planner requires a unique individual with a special blend of analytical and statistical skills with an emphasis on communication, facilitation and collaboration to orchestrate the sharing of information across the commercial teams, and build partnerships with various sales, marketing, manufacturing and Executive teams within the organization.
The tools to support the Demand Planner are also evolving as technology brings new challenges and capabilities to support their efforts. Some key elements that current demand planning tools provide include:
- Strong statistical forecasting engines to help analyze trends, seasonality and anomalies in our customers buying patterns.
- Cloud based systems with Web/Browser based user interfaces to support easy collaboration and consensus planning with anyone, anywhere at any time, around the world.
- Scenario planning capability and unlimited “what-if” analysis to support the collaborative decision making process to better understand the impact of various scenarios to make more insightful decisions faster with real-time, in-memory processing
- Exception management and KPI dash-boarding capability to help identify problem areas in advance, and take corrective measures quickly
- Product life cycle management capability as the pace of new product introductions increases, and product life cycles become shorter in this world of rapid disruption and expanding competition.
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities are being incorporated to help improve forecast accuracy thru deeper big-data analysis and predictive analytics that technological advances have brought to businesses in recent years.
Demand planning is critical for businesses to remain competitive and operate with the ability to respond quickly to changing business conditions. This is why we see today’s leading demand planning organizations continuously investing in the skills and knowledge of their people, and the tools and technology to support them as they continue to improve the business performance and impact of their planning organizations.