How important is demand planning to the success of your business?
Most supply chain management professionals would probably say between ‘vital’ and ‘critical.’
Over half of retail supply chain executives report that demand forecasting is a significant area for investment and opportunity.
Sometimes, meeting these demands can feel like you’re a fortune-teller. It’s challenging to avoid stockouts and other inventory issues when customer needs are constantly in flux and you’re juggling data from multiple systems to try to predict the next quarter’s sales.
Increasing your supply chain visibility by implementing a demand planning dashboard tool can relieve many of these struggles! Let’s look at two poor examples and four incredible examples of demand planning solutions for growing businesses like yours.
Why Use Demand Planning Dashboards?
We will show some of the best and worst examples of demand planning dashboards available on the market today, but first, let’s establish some baseline information about demand planning in general.
What is demand planning? Demand planning is an essential element of supply chain optimization that predicts and helps you to plan the inventory levels you need to meet customer demand without overstocking.
What is a demand planning dashboard? A demand planning dashboard is a tool your business can use to consolidate all your inventory information in one interface. This dashboard is available cross-functionally across your sales, marketing, and procurement teams. This cross-functionality increases visibility, clarity, and communication across teams regarding your inventory planning processes and how it fits with marketing promotions, sales efforts, and more.
Why conduct routine demand planning? Demand planning helps keep demand and inventory balanced. Measuring demand and planning for it empowers you to execute POs in the right quantities on the right day to maintain perfectly balanced inventory: not too little that you stock out, not so much that you tie up capital in overstock.
Demand Planning Dashboards: Great Examples
Blue Yonder is an end-to-end supply chain platform. In addition to demand planning, you can use Blue Yonder for inventory optimization, transportation management, workforce management, and more.
Some of the features in Blue Yonder’s demand planning dashboard include:
- Forecasting powered by machine learning
- Collaborative, workflow-based user experience
- Transparency into factors influencing demand estimates
According to one customer, “User Friendly. Very good for retail sector specially hypermarket and supermarket. Easy to understand and implement as well. Best for time management. Good for inventory and stock-taking.” -Blue Yonder Customer
GDMH Streamline is a supply chain planning platform that claims to reduce forecasting time, stockouts, and excess inventory. GDMH also offers solutions specific to retail and manufacturing.
The demand planning dashboard offered by GDMH Streamline includes features such as:
- Customizable exceptions for calendar events
- Multi-echelon planning
- Planning capabilities for kitted items and material cuts
One customer says, ”Streamline has been very helpful in reducing the time and effort required to calculate our purchasing requirements and placing our purchase orders… Support from the team is excellent and timely, and there is continual work on the product with features and updates.” -GDMH Streamline Customer
Avercast offers customized demand planning solutions that enable you to add features and functions to your dashboard based on your business needs. Their solutions are built primarily for retail, restaurant, and automotive.
Some of the features you can use in Avercast’s demand planning dashboard are:
- Multiple graphic representations of data available
- Monthly or weekly forecasting
- Customer and salesman forecasting comparison view
One reviewer says, “We like the tool how it gives a remainder of the upcoming stocks so that we can make the new inventory before we run out of stock. It also suggests if something is available in more quantity than required, resulting in saving our time as well as dollars.” -Avercast Customer
Flieber is a demand planning and inventory optimization solution. We’ve designed our software specifically for direct-to-consumer brands. Our solution offers you a single platform from which to accurately plan your inventory needs, giving you a 360-degree view of all your sales channels and supply chains.
Flieber’s robust demand planning dashboard comes with features such as:
- Accurate forecasting predicted with the help of AI and machine learning
- Customizable dashboard to show you the data you need when you need it
- Real-time adjustments that enable you to accelerate delivery or manage advertising on the fly right from your dashboard
- Inventory planning to proactively plan and execute orders for a specified period of time
Flieber’s solution is the best demand planning dashboard for direct-to-consumer businesses because it provides real-time data from all your sales channels, giving you all the information you need to synchronize your sales velocity, supply chain operations, and inventory management processes.
As one customer says, “I used to run my supply chain with virtual assistants, but the inaccurate forecasting of my spreadsheet was really hurting my business. Flieber’s forecast and their approach to purchase order management made our business simpler and more stable.” -Amethya, Flieber Customer
Demand Planning Dashboards: Bad Examples
DIY Excel Demand Planning Dashboard
One common struggle businesses face regarding their demand planning dashboards is trying to create their own DIY solution in Excel or another spreadsheet application. Many small businesses will create a sheet including starting dates, seasonality, confidence intervals, and more.
Though it’s technically possible to create a planning dashboard in your spreadsheet application, this approach has several deal-breaking downsides. Though it can work alright when your business is very small, this solution quickly becomes unmanageable as your business grows.
Firstly, this approach is incredibly time-consuming. Not only is the initial set-up of the sheet a drain on your resources, but the upkeep and maintenance of such a solution will be significantly higher than the time investment needed to maintain any of the dashboards listed previously.
Additionally, since the sheet is manually created and the data tracked through manual entry, you run the risk of increased human error. This manual entry also means the data you’re reviewing is not real-time. When something changes quickly regarding demand or if there is a supply chain delay, you cannot respond quickly enough.
In short, this solution may be cost-effective upfront, but you will never fully trust the resulting forecast due to the time lag and the possibility of human error. As a result, you will not trust the forecast enough to make confident decisions based on its data.
Manual Demand Planning
Another example of a poor demand planning dashboard is no demand planning dashboard at all. Some businesses forgo a formal dashboard for demand planning, choosing to calculate estimates manually or use gut instinct instead. In this solution, staff or management is responsible for manually tracking trends and making predictions.
The downfall of this approach is its lack of data. In this model, your team makes its predictions based on anecdotal evidence. Even if you are spot on once, without a dashboard it will be challenging for your team to determine what led to that accurate prediction so you can repeat it time and time again.
Additionally, this option holds too much room for human error, similar to the solution above. The manual nature of this solution makes it slow and clunky, meaning it will be difficult for your team to pivot when the need arises.
Lastly, if you’re manually tracking demand planning, you’ll offer little to no visibility into your demand planning efforts throughout the organization. This lack of visibility makes it difficult for sales, marketing, and the rest of your supply chain to communicate effectively regarding inventory and demand.
Implementing the Best Demand Planning Dashboard
A demand planning dashboard can give all the stakeholders in your organization a snapshot view of the critical inventory positions, replenishment recommendations, delivery estimates, and more. Implementing a solution like the ones listed in this post can help streamline your supply chain operations, improve internal communications, and prevent inventory-related challenges from eating into your profit margins.
At Flieber, we know how vital it is for you to be able to keep your finger on the pulse of your inventory, demand forecasting, and sales data at all times. Our solution is built to keep all your inventory and supply chain-related data in one place, eliminating the struggle of logging in and out of multiple systems to get the full picture of your business. Integrating your data improves accuracy, saves hundreds of hours, and simplifies decision-making so that you can focus on growing your business.
To see how Flieber’s demand planning dashboard can improve your business processes, schedule a demo today!