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3 Top Tips for Supply Chain Planners

Posted on June 6, 2018 3:00 am;

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By Morgan International Staff Writers 

Perhaps you already work within the profession, or maybe you are interested in working within a supply/inventory planning role. We have compiled our top 3 tips that we think you should know (if you don’t already).

  1. You can’t be certain of the future

The majority of this role is about predicting the future – predicting what we expect consumers to do based on a number of factors. Indeed the demand planning models really can become rather complex, taking account of hundreds of variables including the weather, fashion, macroeconomic events, and so on. However they remain predictions. None of us can be assured of what the future holds. Therefore the best supply chain planners embrace uncertainty and factor in the reality that some predictions made are likely to be incorrect. That means build in some slack.

  1. This isn’t a one-time only exercise

We already said that plans have a high chance of being wrong, but as time moves on and the reality becomes clear, you need to re-plan. We are not suggesting you be overly reactive when sales take a slight dip. However set boundaries for action and stick to them. For example, if sales increase/decrease more than 5% against the plan in a given week then look into the detail of what is happening and reassess purchase commitments.

  1. Check the big picture

Sanity check the final results of all of your calculations. Hopefully the demand planning model is spot on. But there could be an error that delivers some unlikely predictions. So validate what you have and also triangulate the entire picture. What do we mean by that? Let us take an example to explain. You should look at overall sales of a product range as well as a single product. So you may know that one product within that range is likely to increase, perhaps because of a seasonal colour trend. However you know that the range numbers tend to be stable. Therefore you would expect to see that increase in one product cannibalise the other product sales rather than increase sales of the product range overall.

In Summary

The role of a supply chain planner is really interesting as it works at a number of levels – product, line, range level, and so on. To be successful in this role, the individual needs to use demand planning models, sense check the output, and build in shock absorbers whilst not being overly cautious.

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