To perform at peak capacity one needs to stay sharp. In corporate culture to stay ahead you need to constantly sharpen the skills. Training helps reinforced the learnings demanded by the function. This is a worthwhile use of resources both from the company’s perspective and from the perspective of the individual as evinced by the increased budgets allocated to training. As far as demand planning is concerned we see five reasons why companies ought to do so

Reason1 – The knowledge levels of the Demand Planner determines how effective the tool will be

 A tool of any other name may smell just as sweet but unless properly used – no tool can deliver on promises made on its behalf. We have frequently seen entire demand planning teams wrestle unwaveringly with their forecasts. This is despite possessing expensive forecasting software. The simple reason is that a tool is a mere (virtual) object. It can carry out mechanical processes and save you time. Yet, it needs you to make judgements and decisions for it. Unfortunately, most teams have little or no knowledge on the subject themselves. Thus, investment in training enables teams to make more use of another investment.

Reason 2 – Irrespective of the tool, to read forecasts, demand planners need sound understanding of math concepts.

 A large proportion of demand planners do not come from a statistics background. Consequently, their understanding of the math involved is limited to some degree. This ends up hampering the function’s performance. Training on the mathematical concepts of quantitative analytics means the planners receive a solid understanding of the processes. They can then read the forecasts, better. A forecast by itself is merely a series of numbers. Knowledge of the math involved means that the planner knows why certain parameters have the value they do. For instance, alpha, beta and gamma variables in Exponential Smoothing.

Reason 3 – Training enhances the understanding of the application of mathematical concepts based on their data

 This is the logical next step. Only once the planner has enough training to handle the math, can he apply them.  Most planning software offer over 10 models upon which to base the data. Typically, the planner is left to choose  what he regards as most suitable. Training can provide insights to look beyond the numbers and gauge based on  data. What this means is that training helps planners classify the extent of external influences on data.  Sometimes only a single SKU would be affected. Sometimes it is an entire category. It takes a combination of  expertise and experience to tackle that.

Reason 4 – The efficiency of demand planning is drawn in what happens after the making the forecast. 

The planning function should ideally spend more time enabling the forecast than creating it. Thus, a trained demand planner knows to utilise his resources more effectively. He uses the time saved from quick and accurate forecasts to carry out the plan created for that forecast. The most efficient process involves a demand planner spending less time on nuts and bolts and more time facilitating the plan.

Reason 5 – Training provides the firm with a competitive advantage in terms of development. 

It means planners are proficient in the latest advancements in the function. In this world of rapid fire development and cut throat competition, a company lagging in these advancements is losing out. Features such as New Product Forecasting’ or ‘Automated Expert Selection ‘can radically transform the planning function. Training planners on these features propels the company to stand ahead of the competition

For these reasons and so many more, training the demand planning team is a worthwhile investment for any company in the world. After all a knowledgeable demand planning team is a force to reckon with. 

Neeti Joshua