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In the face of major global disruptions and challenges, many companies are discovering that their demand planning processes are inadequate to deal with today’s market volatility. Traditional methods of predicting demand simply won’t cut it and are no longer efficient. Which begs the question, what steps can you take in order to improve and evolve your demand planning maturity?

In many cases, the first step towards further developing your demand planning is acknowledging that the current process needs attention, followed by identifying business drivers and challenges.

This guide will help you assess your current demand planning maturity and recognize the key steps to take your planning capabilities to the next level.

1- Examine Your Toolkit: Is Your Organization Executing Demand Planning at a Foundational Level?

While companies around the globe are increasing their efforts to digitalize and transform their supply chain planning activities, many organizations are still using outdated legacy systems, ERP tools and spreadsheets. These traditional tools with functional limitations create a rigid environment that does not connect data efficiently, resulting in poorly informed decisions and great costs to the business.

A more advanced approach to demand modeling and forecasting is essential to meet the needs of organizations in today’s highly challenging and disruptive marketplace. Overlooking the importance of forecasting often reflects a reactive business model where the organization is responding to the market, failing to anticipate it.

If this is the case, it’s time to take the critical step to move beyond foundational capabilities to a more strategic approach. Focus on modeling your base demand for increasing forecast accuracy, and improving the forecastability of your data.

Check out our tips here to help you achieve demand planning excellence.

2- Identify Gaps in Order to Transition to Consensus-based Demand Planning

Moving along the maturity curve means transitioning to more collaborative, consensus-based demand planning. As you advance in this journey, it’s key to understand where the gaps are:

What is preventing you from improving forecast accuracy? Is your organization dealing with a lot of disconnected data? Or lacking automation to perform routine tasks?

Assess whether your company has the ability to model across different planning levels – such as product, customer and geographic levels, or if there are current challenges to analyze and convert data.

Your priorities will depend on your particular business needs and circumstances. One key area to focus on is enhancing demand sensing capabilities, which will allow you to better understand likelihoods, costs, consumer behavior, and risk.

Then, seek to incorporate key events such as promotions and new product launches into your demand forecasting and planning activities. It’s important to improve internal collaboration to address the challenge emerging from functional silos and lack of internal consensus on forecasting processes. Envisioning forecasting as an integrative, companywide process is a critical step towards improving demand planning.

3- Gauge Your Competitiveness: Embrace Technology Enablers

Traditional demand forecasting and planning solutions are no longer sufficient for sustainable differentiation. Evolving your demand planning maturity must be an ongoing process to keep up with market changes and to stay ahead of the competition.

As you reach more advanced levels of maturity, look to increase automation in your processes, and harness AI and machine learning to enable predictive and prescriptive forecasts, and to maximize opportunities across your network while reducing risk in your demand plan.

More and more, organizations are leveraging these technologies in supply chain planning to run what-if scenarios and augment human decisions. If you are looking to better understand the practical role of machine learning and artificial intelligence and how to use these key technologies, check out our white paper here. Automating and forecasting with AI/ML will allow you to uncover powerful capabilities, including more granular data and accurate forecasts.

Embrace automation and advanced technologies to make the most of your data, for example taking in more diverse demand sensing signals and unlocking insights to drive your strategy.

Demand planning must be a companywide endeavor, so establishing collaboration and a shared end-to-end view across key stakeholders across the organization is critical. Focus on extending collaboration by linking planning activities to the extended multienterprise network.

4- Choose The Right Supply Chain Planning Software to Power Your Demand Maturity Journey

Market changes and disruptions are showing no sign of slowing down, so it’s important to continually evolve your demand planning maturity. To avoid having to repeatedly upgrade or

replace systems, you’ll need the right technology that allows you to scale your capabilities from where you are now. Look for supply chain planning software that is right for your needs; partner with a technology vendor that can evolve alongside your business, supporting the transition and helping you master more advanced capabilities along the way.

At John Galt Solutions, we partner with you across your entire journey, enabling you to start, evolve, and accelerate your demand planning maturity to maximize opportunities. Our market-leading Atlas Planning Platform provides a comprehensive end-to-end supply chain planning solution with advanced analytics and machine learning to automate planning, break down business silos and deliver greater visibility. Ready to learn more and take your demand planning to new heights? Let us show you how you can automate and transform your supply chain with the Atlas Planning Platform.