Demand Planning in Uncertain Times – Part 2

by Jackie Biallas

What is an Inventory Planner to do in these uncertain times?  We’re accustomed to being able to forecast demand and inventory levels with accuracy.  We provide our companies with solid information regarding cash flow, profitability and inventory.  Our goal is to keep our customers satisfied while achieving our company objectives.  It is understandable that Inventory Planners are feeling somewhat lost right now in these uncertain times.  However, besides demand planning, there are many things Inventory Planners can do to help their companies come through these difficult times.

Know Your Customers and Suppliers

It is more important than ever to really understand your customers.  What are they thinking?  How are they planning for the future?  What can we be doing to satisfy our customers more and strengthen our relationships with them?  What can we be doing for them now that will make us a preferred supplier to them in the future?  Talk to your customers often to stay informed about their current challenges and future plans.  If you are able to obtain POS data, use that to analyze how consumer demands are changing.

Likewise, it is important to maintain strong communication with your suppliers.  Understand what their challenges are in obtaining materials and with their production capacities.  Many manufacturers have closed factories to protect their employees.  The supply chain may be increasingly disrupted by transportation issues as truckers may be limited in the number of hours they can drive and others become sick.  Anticipating issues in the supply chain and creating contingency plans will help the company.

Be an Asset to Other Departments

Planners often have more insight from data than other areas of the company.  This is the time to share that data with other departments and work together for creative ideas to increase sales.

  • Finance – share the information you are seeing with the Finance Department.  This includes any opportunities and liabilities in sales and inventory positions and any transportation issues that develop.  Cash flow is a priority for every business now.  Planners have insights to the metrics that affect cash flow.
  • Marketing – work with the marketing department to develop creative campaigns and promotional plans using the data you see from the marketplace and the knowledge you have of your inventory levels.  Keep an eye on what the competition is doing.
  • Product development – Using your knowledge of your suppliers’ capacities, your inventory availability, and market information, there may be opportunity for new product development
  • Production – It will be crucial to work with the production department and maintain good communication regarding production capabilities and changing priorities in scheduling production.

Increase Your Knowledge

You may have more free time outside of work now since we all have to stay home.  You don’t have the commute or activities to go to.  Use this time to improve yourself and gain knowledge!  Attend webinars, take online courses, read articles and books that you haven’t had time to read in the past.  Use this time to make yourself even more valuable to your organization!

Demand Planners are Extremely Valuable in Uncertain Times

Demand Planners are extremely valuable to their companies in these uncertain times.  By sharing data and insights with other departments in their company, strategic decisions can be made to make the best of this unprecedented situation.

For more tips on how demand planning can help your company during these uncertain times, contact the industry experts at SAFIO Solutions.