Demand planning is a crucial aspect of supply chain management. Most companies involved in the manufacture and sale of goods, whether wholesale or retail, have demand planner jobs available. Different companies have different needs depending upon the products they handle, and therefore, the types of demand planner jobs will vary widely. Still, these jobs fall into three basic categories: positions that involve forecasting only, that involve both forecasting and inventory management, and that involve forecasting, inventory management, and a host of other responsibilities.
Basically, forecasting means using statistical analysis of company supply chain data to predict how much of a particular product will be needed and when that product should be delivered. This can be a very complex and time-consuming process depending upon various factors; including the number of products sold; the number of businesses, retailers, or end users expecting the products; and the variety and seasonality of the products. The ability to forecast accurately can avoid losses caused by overstock or shortfall of products and can therefore have a huge financial impact on a company. Consequently, some demand planner jobs focus only on the forecasting aspects of supply chain management.
Other types of demand planner jobs require both forecasting and inventory control. Aside from predicting the amount of product needed, the demand planner would also be responsible for managing current and future inventory. This could involve storage, shipping, and management of excess inventory. Often, this is a hands-on position involving a degree of warehouse supervision and management.
Aside from forecasting and inventory control, many types of demand planner jobs are multifaceted and include other related responsibilities. For instance, a demand planner might be responsible for carrier rate negotiation or the actual purchasing of products and product components. If the demand planning for a company is accomplished by a team rather than an individual, the job might also entail team management and administration. The particular responsibilities required for these multifaceted jobs vary widely from company to company. In addition, many larger companies have various levels of demand planning, including supervisory, management, and directorship positions, all of which could carry a different set of duties and responsibilities.
Regardless of the particular type of demand planner job an individual obtains, certain skills are usually always required. For instance, all types of demand planning positions require strong analytical skills, a solid understanding of the supply chain process, and the ability to interpret data. Good organizational and communication skills are almost always a must as well. Technology related to demand planning is always changing and improving, so no matter what type of demand planning job is obtained, an individual must be willing to adapt and learn new methods of performing the job functions.