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Rising the ranks from demand planner to supply chain manager: the formula for success

Beyond what does a demand manager do; i.e., Demand planners work within various departments of an organization to perform revenue forecasting, inventory level alignment based on seasonal demands, material planning, and procurement forecasting. They also use an operational supply chain management (SCM) process to develop reliable forecasts.

The demand planning role has changed greatly in the last decade. It is no longer an entry level job with entry level pay. Instead, it requires deep analytical skills and a progressive career path. People that are good at demand planning understand the market and how to use analytics. What is the secret formula to rise the ranks in demand planning nowadays?

 Demand planning is central to a company’s S&OP strategy. The work demand planners do enables companies to make informed decisions about how to grow the business and meet their customers’ needs. And stellar employees are in a prime position to make a name for themselves. So what’s the secret formula to rising through the ranks in demand planning? Stand out from the crowd with some colorful PAINTS:

 Play to your strengths

Analytics and data — get comfortable with them

Immerse yourself in the industry

Nail down your KPIs

Think big picture

Soft skills are crucial

 

P — Play to your strengths

 There’s a lot of room to explore within demand planning. But while career paths vary, the Institute of Business Forecasting (IBF) has identified four main roles:

  • analytics development
  • business analysis
  • collaborative planning; and
  • product and market management

And since many companies seek to build a demand planning team, where each member brings something unique to the table, it pays to specialize. So find out what you’re good at — or what interests you — and seek out opportunities to hone those skills. Just don’t forget to work on filling in your knowledge gaps, too!

 

A — Get comfortable with analytics and data

A central part of any demand planning role, but especially one involving analytics development, is collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing data from various sources. If you can do this well, even if there isn’t much to go on, you’ll make yourself invaluable. Companies look for problem solvers, so know what you have and what’s missing. Then make sure your company can operate without missing a beat by having solutions at the ready.

 

I — Immerse yourself in the industry

Demand planning is a specialized field. Demand planners must keep up with industry-specific best practices as well as the latest news and innovations. But remember that the practical application of those demand planning skills and know-how happen within an entirely separate world. That is, your forecasts and demand plans are tailored to your company’s industry.

Therefore, it’s just as important to be well-versed in your company’s chosen line of business. If it’s, for example, selling cars, learn the ins and outs of the automobile industry. Immersing yourself in both worlds is the only way to do your job effectively.

 

N — Nail down your KPIs

It’s hard to argue with results. So the easiest way to get people to notice how important your job is and how good you are at it is to show them results. And by results, we really mean data. If you haven’t yet heard of SMART goals, we recommend you get familiar with them. Create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals that can be easily quantified and tracked using KPIs (or key performance indicators). Meet the targets you’ve set and don’t be shy about letting the rest of your company in on your success.

 

T — Think big picture

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind. But doing so can narrow your focus and make missteps or aggravations seem outsized. Take a step back to look at the bigger picture. And try not to dwell on a missed forecast or grumble about outdated technology. Instead, go one step further. If a mistake was made, examine what went wrong with the goal of being more accurate next time. If technology is making you inefficient, research and champion new technologies your company can implement.

 

S — Soft skills are crucial

You could be the best demand planner alive, but you’ll get nowhere if you’re not understood or well-liked. It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of others in your company and work with them. With their cooperation, you’re more likely to get the information needed to do your job effectively.

While the IBF has a few great suggestions for influencing colleagues, the key is to understand their priorities and pain points as well as how they digest information. That way, you can make sure your reports, data, and ideas speak to their priorities and are presented using language and formats (charts, graphs, etc.) that resonate.

 

Carving out your own demand planning career path won’t happen overnight. But by following this formula, you’ll become an invaluable asset that any company would be lucky to have on their team. Just one last little tip: don’t be afraid to lean on powerful technology and established experts. Schedule a consultation with one of our Forecast Xperts to learn how our Atlas Planning Suite can help you progress in your career as a demand planner.

 

Additional Resources

John Galt’s solution ForecastX has over 20 forecasting methods built-in to the solution. ForecastX is in use by over 3,700 happy customers worldwide. Discover yourself what value ForecastX has to build better forecasts for better business.







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