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Demand planning is a cross-functional strategy that supports businesses in meeting product demand while minimizing inventory levels and evading supply chain risk. It has the potential to boost productivity and client satisfaction by improving efficiency.

Demand planning should be an ongoing, deeply entrenched process in your company. Luckily, technological advancements have made this feasible, not to mention, simpler!

What Is Demand Planning and How Does It Work?

Demand planning necessitates a thorough examination of sales, customer preferences, historical sales, and seasonality data to maximize your company’s ability to meet customer demand in the most positive way possible.

Sales forecasting, supply chain management, and inventory control are all used in demand planning to acquire this aim.  To begin, it forecasts future demand using information from both internal and external sources. This estimation can then be used to notify your marketing and sales strategy, allowing you to determine how much product to buy or manufacture to increase production.

Supply chains must be as fair as possible to maximize profit margins. To ensure that supply chains are effective for supplies and, inevitably, revenue, efficient production planning is essential.

Demand planning analyst is an individual overlooking the supply chain management process for predicting or anticipating product demand to make sure the project can be conveyed and customers are satisfied. The primary objective is to tread a fine line between having enough inventory to meet customer demands while also not having excess. Demand can be shaped by a myriad of factors, such as labor market changes, consumer preferences, extreme weather, environmental catastrophes, or global recession events.

To run an ecommerce business successfully, you need a digital presence driven by an ecommerce integration like Magento integration, as well as enterprise resource planning (ERP) integration with CRM software to handle back-office procedures like stock levels, supply chain, purchasing, and financial situation.

What Is the Importance of Demand Planning?

Efficient demand planning helps businesses understand the relationship between adequate inventory levels and customer demand, resulting in profit and customer satisfaction. That is a difficult goal to achieve, especially because it necessitates cooperation across your organizational structure. Even so, the ramifications for business are substantial. Excessive stock consumes working capital, increases inventory carrying costs, and raises the risk of being stuck with close to zero or outdated inventory. Poor planning, on the other hand, can cause preventable outages and leave a company short on products, resulting in shipments, excess inventory, or costly tumbles for products.

All of these problems can cause delays, resulting in disgruntled customers.

Demand Forecasting vs. Demand Planning

Demand forecasting is a step in the bigger demand planning process that involves analyzing multiple data sources to forecast sales. Forecasts generally require the next 18 to 24 months, but the time frame varies by product and business. Companies could revise their forecasts regularly as new data and market circumstances become available. The demand forecast is used to build the global price plan.

What Role Does Demand Planning Play in a Company?

Demand planning necessitates collaboration and input from numerous departments, such as marketing and sales, buying, distribution network, operational activities, manufacturing, and accounting. In addition, managers in charge of brand portfolio management and total corporate strategy play a key role by considering component and production lead times.

Because demand planning affects so many areas of the organization, employees who control it may work in a distinct category or benefit from system integration into one of the departments mentioned earlier, as well as the acquisition or operations departments.

7 Steps to Successful Demand Forecasting

Demand planning is an inter-process that can become challenging as a company’s scope and scale, as well as its forecasting attempts, expand. The following are important steps to take:

  • Form a group: Ascertain that the members of the cross-functional demand planning team are aware of their duties and responsibilities.  Representatives from procurement and supply chain groups, for instance, may be in charge of guaranteeing that the company acquires enough inventory at the right time to meet demand forecasts. The finance department is frequently in charge of creating the exact prediction.
  • Describe and accumulated internal data relevant: To create a precise prediction, multiple workers engaged in demand planning should realize what data should have been included.  Sales data by channel and location, out-of-stock rates, cash conversion, delivery time, manufacturing time, holding cost, and other key inventory metrics should all be included in the available details. Verify with your sales and marketing teams to see when price increases and decreases, marketing campaigns, and advertisements that may benefit consumers will occur. Assemble knowledge about recent launches, retirement benefits, and productive promotions from product teams, as all of these factors, could affect prediction performance.
  • External data can be used to improve the forecast: Another important input for accurate demand planning is outer data.  This could include statistics such as provider and supplier performance and delivery schedules, as well as your top improvers’ most recent purchasing habits. Other external data include general economic conditions, which may influence prices and radical transformation in your industry or for specific products you sell.
  • Create a demand forecast based on statistical data: Determine the size of the forecasting model (or models) that makes good sense for your company together, and then get to concentrate on developing it. Although some businesses are still using Excel or even other techniques that necessitate more manual labor and are time-consuming and error-prone, demand planning software is a great way to go. You might want to construct forecasts by product or product line, or for individual customers or areas, in addition to company-wide predictions.
  • The demand forecast should be questioned: With all decision-makers, review, reanalyze, and refine the demand forecast. To see if the most recent data has a serious influence on forecasts, add it in. To measure the implications of removing improbable anomalies that could misrepresent the overall forecast, question any information that may be inaccurate. It’s also a good idea to double-check that the demand forecast matches the company’s performance and financial projections.
  • Compare forecasts to cost of goods sold: Determine the amount of inventory required to meet expected demand (cycle inventory), as well as a buffer of “safety stock.” Recognize the sellers you’ll need to keep up with the competition and verify with them to make sure they’ll be able to deliver the goods or services on time. Make sure your mobility sellers can keep up with the demand and meet your deadlines for moving cargo between destinations.
  • Analyze the outcomes: Target dates for each of the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will allow you to evaluate the performance of your demand planning. Sales forecast accuracy, inventory turns, fill rates, order fulfillment lead times, and cost of goods sold (COGS) are just a few examples of metrics that your company might track. The product gets against these goals on a regular basis and adjusts accordingly.

Demand Planners Need These Skills

Demand planners must possess strong analytical abilities, as well as proficiency in statistical analysis and modeling. Because they must interact with a variety of disciplines, the most effective demand planners must be excellent communicators in regards to their numerical abilities.

They are also more likely to be pioneers who champion automation, because tools like demand planning software and supply chain management software can enable the firm to enhance its demand planning and, as a result, save cash. Demand planners should be able to integrate ERP systems, as they will be the source of data, and will help them in working more efficiently.

Methods of Demand Planning

At the most basic level, demand planning has been influenced by two philosophies: push and pull. For most of the twentieth century, the push suggests changes that “if we construct it, they will arrive.” Businesses assumed that developing new technologies would generate demand, so they built them, made them accessible to customers, and stood in line for sales to come in. In practice, this strategy’s success was hit or miss. When demand exceeds supply, racks become bare, resulting in missed sales opportunities. Other times, inventory sat unsellable on shelves or in warehouses, causing wages to increase and cash flow to suffer.

The majority of demand planning process systems are based on a “pull” ideology. This begins with determining customer demand and utilizing that information to analyze all other operations management. The most difficult aspect of the pull strategy is predicting customer demand accurately. Imprecise forecasts because of the same issues as the “push” method: revenue possibilities are missed, and wages increase.

In the demand forecasting component of demand planning, common models for creating a statistical forecast are:

  • Moving average demand presumes that sales forecast will be based on a weighted average of the previous few sales periods.
  • Linear regression: This system requires subsequent demand levels to help predict sales using a least-square regression predictive method. This model, also known as the “line of best fit,” plots a slope dependent on past supply and then stretches it to forecast future growth.
  • Seasonal patterns: The seasonal patterns strategy guarantees future demand based on previous sales all through specific periods or seasons, as the term suggests. This technique is effective for businesses with a high degree of seasonality in their sales.
  • Sales forecasting: This technique forecasts future demand based on the company’s recognized sales opportunities and likelihoods for a given period.
  • Microsoft dynamics CRM API integration: with Microsoft dynamics CRM API integration you can generate your own experimental work, publicize them as Cloud solutions, and utilize them to produce forecasting.

Businesses frequently combine these methodologies with demand planning software to automate specific aspects of models for predicting. Demand forecasting software can also make forecasting more reliable and valid.

Demand Planning Top Procedures

Since the demand planning process is so complicated, guiding principles usually revolve around collaborating to enhance efficiency. The following are some of the best practices:

  • Using statistical simulation and collaborative demand planning that pull data from multiple agencies, gain buy-in, and demand transparency from all stockholders.
  • Make sure your inventory data is correct. Without precise and effective inventory management, demand planning will fail.
  • In your predictions, involve data from the supply chain, extreme weather and environmental catastrophes, market shifts, and buying behavior, a process known as “demand sensing.”
  • Branding and publicity can be used to consciously form demand.
  • Microsoft Dynamics AX integration Demand forecasting is a set of skills that lets you estimate market expectations and create forecasts given historical transaction records.
  • Integrating ERP with CRM as a service, or iPaas may standardizes the application’s fixing into an organization, making it possible to simplify business operations and collect files all over uses. Another important best practice is to choose a demand planning analyst with care. Data analysis for forecasting, tracking KPIs, and determining ideal inventory levels should all be automated by software, enabling your organization to identify on predicting the outcome, collaborating with other teams, and adapting plans as needed. Your software should be simple to operate, user-friendly, and incorporate with your stock and ERP systems.

Demand Planning in the Future

Demand planning software advancements remain to aid businesses in assessing the quality of their forecasts. Software, for instance, can attach to point-of-sale statistics and pull data from customers and suppliers, allowing businesses to integrate actual information into their analysis and planning.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices can also help with the demand process by providing real-time data on the progress of raw materials and stock. IoT technology can also track revenues in real-time, allowing businesses to easily regenerate retail outlets or storage areas where items are selling out sooner than predicted.

This accessibility can assist organizations that use a pull system in optimizing supply or stock levels, as well as limiting the costs and headaches associated with having too many or too few inventories.

Furthermore, demand planning software is heavily focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to analyze large amounts of information and spot patterns and trends that a human would miss. Demand planners can then utilize the information to make real-time changes.

Knowing where to use digital corporation configurations and enforcing artificial intelligence and machine learning program that can help optimize a toned, flexible, and data-driven strategy will introduce hidden methods to reduce costs in processes, increase profits, and provides the greatest strategic advantage will bring new approaches to reduce expenses in operations.

Demand planning can be done more and more at the moment with a stronger supply chain. Demand planning, when done correctly, can be a critical component of increasing a supply chain’s profit margins.

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