It is well confirmed correlation between demand visibility and corporate profitability. Almost all organizations with better demand planning and good agility to handle different market scenarios flourish and thrive.
Despite this, many organizations still hold on to conservative approaches like Excel spreadsheets and ERPs. Since demand planning is an anchor process that can provide stability to the supply chain amidst turbulent and volatile market conditions, it is crucial to choose the right tool for forecasting. A tool which not only utilizes historical records, but also analyzes market intelligence to bring out the most accurate estimate of demand.
So how do you evaluate a demand planning solution? There are a number of factors to consider before choosing the right software:
1. Always find a tool that aligns with your organization's requirement. Invest in solutions which offer a wide variety of functions that you will actually use rather than ones which advertise premium features that you will never need. The latter usually costs more and consumes time and energy to implement. Your demand streams and drivers are major contributing factors to understand the kind of solutions that you are looking for. For example, the ability to forecast at various levels, seamless integration with ERP and feasibility to include causal factors, amongst other features.
2. Understand the scalability of the software and focus on how the requirements of your organization will evolve over time and assess how easily the software can accommodate these changes.
3. Focus on High-Value Add features that improve the quality of your demand planning process. Go for solutions that go beyond just dumping incomprehensible forecasting numbers. Explore solutions that provide strategic insights to analyze the forecast in addition to exception planning and ensure that they align with your KPIs. Make sure that the tool has the capability to generate and customize reports and dashboards based on your organization’s needs with minimal manual interventions post-implementation.
4. Ask the solution provider if they can allow a trial of the product or a demo with a sample of your data to see if the solutions fit your organization's demand profile. Doing this will help you get a good grasp of how the software contributes to the improvement of KPIs and ROI.