Academic journal article The Journal of Business Forecasting

7 Behaviors of Great Demand Planners

Academic journal article The Journal of Business Forecasting

7 Behaviors of Great Demand Planners

Article excerpt

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY | It is well documented that Demand Planning requires a unique technical skill set. In addition to this, the most successful emulate a specific set of behaviors that separates their performance from others. In this article, I define seven of these behaviors, and provide insight to how each one translates into much greater results.

I have had the privilege of being close to the Demand Planning function in several companies and industries in my 20-year career. Although the challenges of each environment varied, the behaviors of great Demand Planners appear to be fairly consistent. I am dedicating an article to these traits, and the relentlessness it takes to deliver them. The "Seven Behaviors of Great Demand Planners" are outlined below, and they are listed in order of priority. Of course, this is my own subjective list, based on what I have observed over time. I am hoping that you or your team can utilize some of these traits to increase the value of Demand Planning in your organization.

(Disclaimer: There is no doubt that some will disagree with this list. That is great news, because it means that there are additional positive behaviors out there.)

The Seven Behaviors of Great Demand Planners are:

7. Be Infectiously Positive

6. Be Able to "Shake it Off"

5. Be Ready to Explain the Stats 4. Become "Multilingual"

3. Influence Up

2. Seek the Healthy Debates

1. Communicate with Context


The Issue:

Demand Planning is unique for two reasons:

1. Its primary objective is to forecast demand and, as we know, a forecast is always wrong.

2. The function requires a large amount of collaboration with other functions, including supply chain, sales, finance, marketing, operations, and consumer insights.

The intersection of these two premises can be difficult to manage, because the output is nothing more than a speculation, and yet, many other functions will rely heavily on this projection. In all likelihood, the forecast will change several times as assumptions materialize. In an example where a change calls for a reduction in demand, it may not be easy to deliver bad news that may reset demand expectations below the annual plan or a recent financial exercise.

What A Great Demand Planner Does:

Great Demand Planners see the opportunity in a bad situation and, as the title of this behavior states, they remain infectiously positive. The best way to accomplish this is to stay focused on the opportunity that each situation presents. For example, when a demand plan is reduced, then a great Demand Planner calls out a gap to the plan, and he/she works with those functions that generate demand (likely Sales or Marketing) to pull together actionable gap-closers to meet or even exceed the plan. They realize that the mission of Demand Planning in a situation like this is to provide the rallying cry for corrective actions, and they work closely with the demand generating functions to ensure that all gap-closing plans are valid and feasible. A great Demand Planner helps the broader team to define what is possible. An infectiously positive demeanor is a "soft-skill" that may never win a company award, but it should be considered one of the most critical activities when planning for the successful results.

I want to hit the pause button for a moment and address the fact that this example of great Demand Planning has nothing to do with MAPE, bias, or any other traditional DP metrics. If you have read my recent articles titled "Is Communication More Important than Accuracy" {JBF, Fall 2014), or "Better Decisions for New Item Launches Using Predictive Tracking" (JBF, Winter 2014), this concept will not be new to you. For those who have not read these articles, the basic premise is that Demand Planning Is an "enabler" role that needs to be focused on ensuring the business is always In the best position to optimize financial results. …

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