skip to Main Content

A Salute to Demand and Supply Planners Everywhere

Business Leadership  
02/21/2018

At the risk of preaching to the choir, I want to share with you an important insight that I didn’t fully appreciate until only recently: demand and supply planners deserve more respect. Plain and simple.

I thought I had a good idea of what these individuals had to tackle day to day. But that was before I attended an Oliver White Demand Management training not long ago. During the two-day course, I learned a great deal about the nuances of demand management. Along the way, however, I gained a whole new understanding for the often-unheralded professionals that handle the extraordinarily difficult duties the discipline requires. In fact, I came away with the awareness that the function they provide should be viewed not merely as a facilitator of efficiency, as it generally is, but primarily as a strategic contributor to and enabler of business growth. Here’s why I believe this to be true: Planners are fundamental to profitability. The job that supply chain planning pros perform can make a huge difference in how well a company works.

It’s not a stretch to say that a good planner is worth their weight in gold. Just consider what can go wrong with poor planning. Inventory over or under stocks, missed contract deadlines, or dissatisfied customers. Failed product launches. Staff frustration, especially among sales. Wasted dollars that ripple across operations and production. The list goes on and on. To see the impact a top-notch planner can have on a business, imagine the reverse of all those consequences. Then multiply a hundred fold.

Uncommon traits. What impressed me the most from the course was discovering what it takes to be a successful supply chain planner. The person who fills these shoes truly is an uncommon individual. Here’s an abbreviated list of traits they need to possess:

  • Broad comprehension and resilience. I find it fascinating that this individual is expected to understand the entire business flow, from sales to procurement to engineering to service. They must digest a massive amount of input from a multitude of stakeholders. It’s not for the faint of heart. This is real high-wire stuff, with a lot riding on the outcomes. And it’s not a one-time or once-a-year undertaking. It’s ongoing—at least monthly.
  • Emotional intelligence. These individuals must have people skills in spades. They must gracefully handle the many different personalities, egos, company politics, and reluctance to share that come with the job—while making sure that all parties are heard and understood.
  • Data ninja. This person must be able to capture all relevant data from past and current trends and forecasts, from sales, from all the different departments across the business. They must also be able to present that data visually, through charts and graphs, so that stakeholders can see and understand the impact their activities and assumptions will have on the success of the business.
  • Change agent and consensus builder. Supply chain planners exist in a constant state of ambiguity. They’re continuously facing change, yet they are expected to consistently lead to data-driven supply chain decisions and enable timely actions regardless of the challenge or opportunity in the path. Keep in mind, planners don’t own the data. But it’s their responsibility to flag any issues that arise from the data they receive from everyone else. They must proactively point out data gaps and conflicting assumptions across different departments. And at the end of the day, they are seeking a consensus on the plan—across the enterprise.

 

A rare breed indeed. It’s important that supply chain planners get full support from an executive sponsor so they can shine like the rare diamonds they are. Take a look at that list again. It’s exceptional for most people to have even a handful of these traits. But supply chain planners have all of them. That’s pretty awesome. Something to think about the next time you sit across from one of them in a meeting or pass them in the hall.

 

Author: Hemant Makhija, Sr. Director Product Marketing  

Related Articles

Data and the leadership mindset

Lou Rassey says that data is an asset and it should be seen as such. He also noted that there are three key parts to the right mindset of a successful leader in this transitional time. Good leaders should have [...]

Why good leaders are trustworthy

Transformation within industries or businesses works best when employees trust their leaders. However, many leaders make the mistake of just asking their employees to trust them instead of building a solid base. If you want to build that trust, demonstrate [...]

Traits that define a good leader in the manufacturing industry

What do successful leaders in the manufacturing industry have in common? First of all, their employees trust them. How do you build that trust? Industry Week said, “It requires the real work of building a culture around teamwork, creativity and [...]

How to advance your career in demand planning

How do you advance your career in demand planning? First you need to know the language. That might sound simple - you already use it every day! However, different companies and areas use different terminology to take the time to [...]

Embracing change starts with you

Change is necessary for a business to grow and develop. However, you can’t change the way that people think or a company’s culture overnight. Industry Week said, “Leaders should try to change how people act in the organization by defining [...]

Building efficiency through teamwork

Dave Turbide said, “The very essence of supply chain management is coordinated activity; working together to move the materials and products through the chain from source to manufacturing, from manufacturing through the distribution network, and out to the customer in [...]

Some ways you can manage the talent shortage

There is a current shortage in manufacturing labor, so businesses are getting creative! One way you can retain talent is by convincing retirement-aged workers to stay with incentives. You could also increase talent by partnering with a school to create [...]

Which kinds of leaders should encourage a growth mindset?

Bill Joiner claims there are five types of leaders; experts, achievers, and catalyst leaders. Experts have passion for what they do and problem solving skills but tend to not seek feedback from their employees enough. Achievers are typically more collaborative [...]

The Human Factor in Manufacturing

Reports that say robots are taking over jobs in manufacturing aren’t accounting for “the human factor.” In fact, Industry Week reported that humans perform 72% of tasks in manufacturing. They said, “Humans are and will remain integral to the manufacturing [...]

If You Want More Manufacturing Innovation – Don’t do these things!

Are you fostering or preventing innovation in your organization? Industry Week came up with a list of five ways you might be preventing top-notch innovation, so make sure to avoid these! They say many companies aren’t providing innovation training or [...]
Subscribe to our Blog
Back To Top