Unlocking the next level of demand forecasting in supply chain isn’t just a goal—it’s a necessity to adapt properly to today’s ever-changing markets. This requires the right quality and balance on four pillars: data, tools, process, and people skills. In our previous blog ‘Unlocking the next level of demand forecasting: why solid data hygiene is your key to success’ the importance of data hygiene as the foundation for stepping up in demand forecasting has been emphasized. In this blog, we discuss the significance of the other foundational building blocks: process, people, and tools.
Fuelled by the rapidly changing environment, the traditional reliance on individual knowledge and expertise is giving way to a new era where analytics and human skills work hand in hand. This is particularly true when it comes to demand forecasting. At the heart of this transformation is the understanding that demand forecasting is not a solitary task, but rather a symphony that requires a harmonious alignment of people, processes and tooling. Achieving maturity means moving beyond the rudimentary methods of the past, embracing sophisticated statistical models, and empowering people with an analytics and collaboration skillset, leveraged by the power of technology.
Collaborative excellence in demand forecasting
Cross-functional collaboration between different functions in the company emerges as a key catalyst in this journey. The days of siloed departments operating in isolation are over. Demand forecasting requires a united front, where marketing, sales, and operations converge to share insights and align strategies. Merging the various angles and contributions to enrich a solid baseline forecast, generated by a powerful forecast engine, fosters plan acceptance and plan quality. Adhering to a clear planning drumbeat throughout the organization, to gather and consolidate and forecast inputs, is essential to strengthen and truly embed the right planning behavior. Especially when a strong feedback loop is in place for in-depth review of the added value of each step in the forecast process.
Transform demand forecasting in supply chain through intuitive tooling
The shift towards easy-to-use, intuitive tools for capturing market intelligence is pivotal. The era of complex, unwieldy systems is fading, making room for platforms that empower users at every level of expertise. Tools should be configured in such a way that adding the right information can be done at the levels that fit the business specifics. For one case, for example, the customer-product detail level could be needed to capture key account promotional forecasts, while for other events enriching on country-product group level is required.
Furthermore, tools providing clear demand insights drive effective forecasting. It’s not merely about collecting data; it’s about distilling it into actionable intelligence. The data-savvy organizations of tomorrow are those that can translate raw information into strategic foresight, enabling agile decision-making in a dynamic market.
Grow and nurture forecasting and planning capabilities
Reflecting on the people dimension, the future of demand forecasting should not depend on individual knowledge. Having the right mix in place of forecasting and planning knowledge, analytical skills, and collaborative behavior is crucial. Lasting success is about creating an interconnected ecosystem that outlives individual expertise, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and shared learning.
Companies that keep a good eye on all four pillars can truly reach forecasting excellence: solid data hygiene, clear processes, fit-for-purpose tools, and getting the best out of people. The EyeOn Fast Scan provides organizations with a clear stick in the ground of current forecast maturity and the potential that can be reached. This can be used as a great starting point for taking the right improvement steps on each of these four pillars.