Demand forecasting and demand planning are foundational elements of business plans and business strategies across the many functions within the company. They encompass long-term planning, short-term planning, and everything in between.

They are key factors in Marketing Planning, Sales Planning, Supply Chain Planning, Product Development Planning, Capital Investment Decisions, Operations Planning, Inventory Planning, Financial Planning, and other business planning. They are critical elements in the development of short-term and long-term business strategies for the company and its functional areas.

Demand Planning is More Than S&OP

Many of the business decisions made throughout the company depend upon the insights, knowledge, and proficiency of Demand Planners. Demand Planners must be concerned with the business behavior affecting business-to-business product and service transactions, and with the consumer behavior of the ultimate product and service users. Demand forecasting and planning are disciplines that are applied well beyond their uses in the S&OP/IBP processes for the company.

“The Demand Planner must understand not only the company, its products and its businesses, but the context in which the company is operating”

The Demand Planner must understand not only the company, its products, and its businesses, but the context in which the company is conducting its business. This requires curiosity, vision, analytical skills (both static and dynamic), multi-time horizon adaptability, and the ability to work with others cross-functionally and across management hierarchies.  Demand Planners are imbedded in functions all across the company within the many functional responsibility areas. While their functional locations may vary, their profession has common important elements and considerations that are fundamental to the work that they do. What are some of these elements?

What Separates Great Demand Planners from the Merely Good

  1. Understanding of the relevant industry, industry segments, and associated trends and developments
    2. Knowledge of minor, major and emerging competitors and their strategies and activities
    3. An understanding of economic conditions and trends affecting the company and its products and services sales – both domestic and global
    4. An understanding of political conditions and trends – domestic and global – which are affecting the company and its products and services
    5. A knowledge of demographic changes and trends affecting consumer demand for its products
    6. A knowledge of the key drivers of customer demand behaviors and that of consumers for the company’s products and services
    7. An ability to use technology and data sources ( internal and external) creatively and effectively for developing demand models, as well as performing demand analytics and for short-term, medium-term, and long-term projections of demand for use in business decisions and plans
    8. A knowledge of historical patterns of demand and emerging changes that might fundamentally affect demand through time
    9. A well-developed ability to communicate clearly and effectively across functions and management levels
    10. An ability to cohesively link all of the above to company goals – financial and non-financial – and to describe and explore the related business ramifications of scenarios, risks, and opportunities.

“Demand Planners represent a delicate balance of quantitative and qualitative skills”

The above elements should be carefully considered during the recruiting and hiring process for Demand Forecasters and Planners. These elements should be considerations in making promotions and compensation decisions. Demand Planners are an important resource within the company, affecting many of its business decisions and business processes. Their functional placement will vary with company organization structure. But their needed skills and abilities are commonly shared regardless of their functional placement. Demand Planners represent a delicate balance of quantitative and qualitative skills and of business perspectives that help them in the forecasting, planning, and strategic undertakings across the company.


To get up to speed with the fundamentals of Demand Planning and Forecasting, join IBF for our 2- or 3-day Boot Camp in Chicago from March 13-15. You’ll receive training in best practices from leading experts, designed to improve supply chain and enterprise performance. Super Early Bird Pricing is open now. Details and registration.