Data-rich demand planning creates supply chain resilience

15 July 2021 | 1493 Shares

Photo by Jake Nebov on Unsplash

At the heart of an agile and market-responsive supply chain is the ability to predict future demand. In times before the technological revolution, second-guessing what was laying around the corner for retailers and their suppliers came from experience: staff members with years in a business, combined with a knack of predicting and hedging throughout the ever-changing dynamics of the market.

Today’s much more effective crystal ball is made of silicon and it comes in the form of pure data gathered by an organization throughout operations. Demand planning still requires experience and market insight, but the cold, hard nature of numbers and statistics makes it less of a best-guessing exercise and more of an astute use of today’s most powerful (and specialized) demand planning applications.

Modern businesses that embrace a more integrated technology stack and data model can solve complex business problems in a simplified, highly automated and tightly orchestrated manner. While many traditional products and services will still look the way they always have, the underpinning business operation is directed by demand planning insights: these are delivered by platform level technologies.

Having a “nose” for the market is no longer enough. Digital business runs (literally) at close to light-speed. So, business managers who think they can sense changes in customer demand are left downwind of competitors that have been able to deliver faster time to value.

Future-proofing a business’s demand-planning function drives adoption, avoiding costly switch-overs or commercial failure in the future.

In a previous article on Tech HQ, we looked at Vuealta, a vendor that provides highly advanced and capable software for supply chain operators running on the Anaplan platform. We touched on the advantages that come from using Vuealta’s portfolio to extend, for instance, an ERP’s inherent capabilities.

This article looks at the specifics of demand planning, elements that comprise past performance reviews at scale, scenario modelling, and option testing, and explores the possibilities of combining marketing, operations, and sales professionals in the forecasting processes.

The Options of Analysis

As any data specialist will tell you, creating clean data is half the battle. Software helps teams easily visualize and correct for outliers, compensate for SKU code changes, and see when new products (or retiring older lines) can affect overall operations. Data sets can be easily segmented by distributer, product group, SKU by volume sold, or date range, to name just a few options. Users can effectively “zoom in” to specific parts of the informational backdrop formed by daily operations and then “zoom out” to see full context and overviews.

Anomalies can either be adjusted for modelling purposes, removed altogether, or the Vuealta platform can help smooth them out to produce realistic baseline historical results.

The Art of Prediction

There are multiple models of statistical analysis used by supply chain professionals to best craft possible outcomes in any given situation: preparation for seasonal trends, attempting to get to the root cause of definite spikes or troughs in demand, or predicting the trajectory of new product sales.

Vuealta’s approach is to help users assess the material differences between the outcomes of statistical algorithms and find the best-fit analysis methods for each stakeholder in the business: Marketing gurus, Operations Directors, and Finance pros. The platform encourages both experimentation (more on this in a moment) but also collaboration. The beauty of having all models in one forum means that the best, most strategically-focussed outcomes can be agreed, firmly based on empirical data – with all models tested against historical data for veracity.

By modelling potential business decisions in software, companies can get a firm steer on what might fly, how current product lines could be cannibalized, and where the best areas for investment might lie. There’s total clarity on the possible effects on revenues and margins and how each stakeholder can expect to be impacted over different timespans – even given unplanned demand fluctuations.

The Detailed Picture

With complex supplier and distribution networks, variables in most operations can number in their thousands. Using Vuealta’s platform for demand management and prediction means the silicon “brain” does much of the heavy lifting behind the scenes, helping organizations see clearly into the past and thereby plan better for the future. As relationships between partner organizations shift and business strategies change, the ability to normalize data and still produce actionable predictions are significant advantages.

The Vuealta platform helps all parts of an organization align better, with multiple stakeholders who can base their operations going forward on a reliably modelled basis. To dig into the details of how the Vuealta demand management capability might benefit your organization, take a look at this information page. When you’re ready to discuss your organization’s specific needs, the Vuealta team is only a click or two away.