The Demand Planning Career, Is it a Curse or a Blessing?


If you have any knowledge of Demand Planning, I am sure that you have heard the following: “Demand Planners are like meteorologists, they rarely get credit for doing the job correctly and they’re only noticed when they get it wrong.” Even so, the bottom line is that there are serious and costly ramifications which can occur if these decisions are wrong. For this reason, the demand planning position can be one of the most important and visible in the company. It is a great place to impact many areas of business and gain corporate approval. It is best to take a positive approach and be an agent for fact based decision making. Using this approach, along with good communication skills, is a great avenue to gain the knowledge and build relationships that will prepare you for success and lead you along a career path with much variety.

Demand Planning touches every aspect of the business and the impact can make this person a valuable asset very quickly. It requires broad business knowledge and detailed customer interaction. Also, it is a functional area that has the ability to transfer these skills to any industry. It involves working with several areas of the business simultaneously and provides an excellent opportunity to tap into the  knowledge of others. Also, working in cross functional teams can be very rewarding by providing a lot of variability to the job and making it more pleasurable.

It is a collaborative process which aids in developing many relationships through the internal organization, as well as, customers and other suppliers. It is a highly visible position which can lead to new and exciting projects. Along with the knowledge to be gained from these groups, the relationships become an asset for your forecasting success and in turn your career path. Also, it can be very rewarding to work with other people to help them attain their goals and reach a collaborative decision that will benefit the entire company. A successful demand planner must become a leader in fact based decision making and a champion for change.

Along with business knowledge and relationship building, leadership skills are also an asset to a successful demand planner. A successful demand planner uses the knowledge gained and is able to interact with customers, managers, sales representative, marketing, pricing and supply chain colleagues. Becoming a good communicator is imperative to collaboration among internal and external customers. This will enable the demand planner to guide various groups in terms that make sense to them and to reach consensus among the group. All of these things together help the demand planner to provide the best forecast possible which in turn will become a huge advantage for both the company and the demand planner.

Ultimately, a bad forecast leads to bad corporate decisions and the loss of career possibilities. Take the positive approach using business knowledge, building relationships and leading your colleagues to collaboration. Pave the way for fact based decisions that will benefit you and your company. Don’t become a victim and fall for the curse. I have learned over the years to approach my career and my life with gratitude and a “can I help you” attitude. This will take you farther than any expertise on any day. Curse or Blessing, well maybe it was best defined by the Beatles, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Sylvia Starnes
Demand Planning Leader
Continental Tire

One Response to The Demand Planning Career, Is it a Curse or a Blessing?

  1. “Demand Planning touches every aspect of the business and the impact can make this person a valuable asset very quickly.”

    Great point. A demand planner has their hands in marketing and sales, finance, supply chain, and more. They have to manage multiple teams’ goals and expectations, while keeping the C-suite in the loop and customer expectations at heart.

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