Sylvia Starnes - Continental Tire

Education in the demand planning arena is a critical part of achieving improved results. We here at Continental Tire are always looking for ways to increase our forecast accuracy and improve our customer relationships; IBF is one of our main sources for doing so. Over the years, it has been my experience that the more demand planning education that a forecaster has the better. During my career I’ve seen very few people move into higher education seeking to prepare for a career in demand planning. Most are promoted into the position and a good foundation is needed to prepare for the road that lies ahead.

Many managers have purchased and implemented forecasting software while the needs of the workforce are an afterthought. This should never be the case! While attending the IBF Leadership and Best Practices conference in Orlando last week, I heard one of the speakers say that we need to train our demand planners to understand what is inside the “black box” and how it works. This was a profound statement for me. This brought back several horrifying situations that I have had to displeasure to observe. Nothing is more embarrassing than to be sitting in a meeting and someone asks one of your direct reports how they came up with the numbers….and here it comes….. the dreaded answer: “the system gave it to me”! Once again, the BLACK BOX made my head spin around backwards.

It is management’s responsibility to give these professionals the foundation they need once they have been promoted into the demand planning arena. I have found that many managers think that just because the person has been successful in other areas they will just “catch on”. This is a huge leadership blunder. Here at Continental Tire, we require that all demand planning staff become a Certified Professional Forecaster through IBF. The book written by Dr. Chaman Jain, Fundamentals of Demand Planning and Forecasting, is a great avenue to understanding the foundation of the dreaded Black Box. It is written with many years of experience which is a wealth of knowledge for any demand planning professional.

This book prepares the demand planning professional to become a Certified Professional Forecaster through The Institute of Business Forecasting. This process consists of three exams for CPF and two additional exams for advanced segments. This certification can be the difference between a functional demand planning group and an exceptional demand planning team. I challenge all managers and leaders in demand planning to use this opportunity to educate their team and in turn accelerate key performance measures. Many thanks to Dr. Chaman Jain for sharing his knowledge in such a powerful way and for preparing many for a career in demand planning.

Moral of the story…. don’t let your team get caught in the black box. Take the time to educate.

Sylvia Starnes CPF
Senior Demand Planner
Continental Tire, The Americas, LLC

Sylvia Starnes recently presented at the 2014 Best Practices Conference at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort.  Sylvia serves as Senior Market Planner for Continental Tire. She holds a BA in Business Administration from Montreat College.  Sylvia is a Certified Professional Forecaster, (CPF) with IBF and Certified in Production and Inventory Management, (CPIM) and Supply Chain Professional, (CSCP) through APICS. Sylvia has 15 years experience in forecasting/demand planning and 10 years experience in logistics/warehouse management. She specializes in building customer relationships and demand planning collaboration.