The Best Demand Planning Software Tools For 2020

No comments

We all know the feeling: finding a product on Amazon (or at your favorite brick-and-mortar) only to see it’s unavailable or out of stock. It’s a common problem for consumers, yes, but an even larger issue when it comes to supply chain management. The answer? Demand planning software tools.

Compare Top Supply Chain Management Software Leaders

Demand planning software brings the power of forecasting into a company’s processes. Ultimately, these tools let you serve your customer base more effectively by planning your production and inventory in advance instead of reacting to market shifts at every turn – a vital part of business success. After all, you can’t bring in revenue and keep the lights on unless you’re consistently meeting consumers’ needs in a timely manner.

So, how do you know which solution will give the best ROI for your specific needs? What are the best options on the market?

Grab your favorite Starbucks drink (or Kombucha, if you’re like me) and settle in as we look at the big picture and then drill down to the best solutions and what they offer. Here’s the roadmap of what we’ll cover:

Demand Planning 101

Some experts describe demand planning as an “essential step in supply chain planning” that creates reliable forecasts for company use. However, demand planning goes beyond the statistical aspect, which differentiates it from demand forecasting software. The steps of the process include the following:

  • Form a team, usually from sales, operations and tech
  • Aggregate and review the data for statistical forecasting
  • Include new data, such as product sales compared to competitor sales of the same product, and revise the model and forecasts accordingly

Demand planning and demand management are similar, but think of them as siblings instead of twins – related yet different. Demand management software deals with short-term supply and demand issues. On the other hand, demand planning takes the long-term view into account. Using predictive analytics, it helps decision-makers look forward to future demand instead of keeping their view limited to the present.

Equipped with this information, your business will be more prepared to handle upcoming market needs by having enough stock on hand. The result? An increase in sales thanks to the ability to meet the demand.

Demand planning is often a particular feature of an encompassing package for supply chain management software (SCM). Why SCM? Because when the raw supplies come to company locations, the company keeps them to manufacture the products they’ll deliver to customers when demand occurs. Since demand planning gives you a better understanding of what will be ordered in the future, it can help improve the supply chain process.

Your company can take significant advantage of this form of business intelligence by using demand forecasting and planning to generate better product life cycles and ROI.

Now, let’s get detailed for a minute with planning and forecasting software. First up, trends.

Compare Top Supply Chain Management Software Leaders

Trends You Should Know About

Real-Time Monitoring

The supply chain is a complex, interconnected web of technology, processes and people. And at the center of it all, a never-ending flow of data acts as the engine. Operating a business without data intelligence is the modern equivalent of piloting a Boeing 747 through a storm with the instruments not functioning – you’re flying blind.

This is why over 80 percent of manufacturers consider real-time monitoring a crucial part of their success. It provides context for the data and gives insight into things like product quality and machine performance while revealing problem areas. This visibility helps keep your business flying high.

Knowledge Sharing Networks

That’s a pretty jargon-stuffed phrase, but basically, knowledge sharing networks are the result of integrations across BI, analytics, track-and-trace applications and quality management. Combining on-site legacy systems with 3rd-party and cloud applications creates a platform that allows supplier connection, along with greater speed and scalability.

Collaboration

The amount of data at our fingertips underpins the importance of collaboration across all aspects of the supply chain. Data reliability and accuracy are important, but in order to reduce costs and waste while improving results, companies also rely on data that provides a single version of the truth and that can be shared freely.

To be most effective, collaboration should involve every department across an organization, along with retailers and suppliers.

AI and Machine Learning

The presence of AI has become as common as sliced bread, and by 2022, its global business value will reach almost $4 trillion, according to Gartner. Though it, along with machine learning, has yet to receive widespread adoption in the supply chain industry, that’s on track to change.

And no wonder, given the capabilities AI and machine learning present:

  • Contextual intelligence, which cuts costs and inventory while speeding response times
  • Improving operations such as factory scheduling
  • Forecasting warehouse order arrivals and departures
  • Insights into SCM performance
  • 360-degree view of the supply chain

Cloud Solutions

As mentioned in our post looking at 2019 trends across the entire supply chain, cloud systems are poised for greater use moving forward, as companies overcome concerns regarding security and uptime that come with 3rd party vendors having access to software.

Another factor is globalization. With worldwide supply chains to manage, companies need easier, more effective ways of standardizing processes. Cloud solutions are a practical answer.

What Does Demand Planning Software Do?

A critical part of demand planning is creating forecasts. To make your plans a reality, you need powerful software with the ability to process huge volumes of information. You can’t conjure inventory and resource forecasts out of thin air – they have to be based on data.

How do you get these insights? Software solutions with forecasting like business intelligence tools allow you to remove and isolate data from reports, reviews, metrics and surveys. You can then turn the results into actionable statements. If there’s a peak buying period for a certain demographic, for instance, demand planning and forecasting software can analyze thousands of reports in order to identify it.

Compare Top Supply Chain Management Software Leaders

Choosing the Right Software

Instead of fixating on the most extensive products, look for software that aligns with your requirements. An “almost” match won’t cut it. The real focus should be on tracking demand streams and drivers so that the technology provides the right kind of support for your operations.

If you have little experience, opt for a product with a simple interface. Many solutions use basic dashboard interfaces to collate graphs, charts and diagrams. This will reduce your learning curve with the system, leading to faster use across your business.

As with any software, it’s best to invest in a system with a broad range of functions that you’ll actually use, rather than bells and whistles that cost extra but you don’t need. Ideally, you want the option to dig down into the intricacies of analytics without sacrificing efficiency and user-friendliness.

To guarantee a great fit, consider the value of the following based on your individual needs:

Finally, prioritize scalability. Your needs will change, so it’s essential to invest in a system that facilitates continuous improvement and growth.

Benefits

Greater Efficiency

With demand planning and forecasting in place, you’ll be better equipped to keep the appropriate amount of inventory on hand and manage your capacity. And with the ability to create a plan using historical data insights, you can anticipate future demand more accurately. Hello supply chain efficiency!

Smooth Collaboration

Supply planning software also aids in communication and collaboration, with solutions facilitating information flow throughout the supply chain network. This leads to greater visibility and real-time updates for teams and stakeholders.

Portals grant access to key information such as supply schedules, inventory stocks, customized orders and more.

Data Analysis

Data aggregation: Before you can start making the data work for you, you need to search the available information and bring it all together in a report-based summary.

Trend analysis: These features take past information into account and produce forecasts that also consider fluctuations in data. Think of the lack of demand for winter coats during the summer season, or promotions that likely boosted results for a given period there are many reasons the data may not accurately reflect ordinary demand.

Predictive analysis: Basically the real-life version of fortune telling (except founded on data), predictive analysis uses techniques from machine learning and statistics to make predictions based on current data.

Reliable Forecasts

Your forecasts are only as good as the data you have. Thanks to demand planning systems, you don’t have to keep shooting in the dark and hoping you’ll hit your target. The ability to aggregate and analyze endless amounts of information means you can expect more accurate forecasts.

Which leads to:

Fewer Stock Shortages

When you have a reliable view of future demand, you can control inventory appropriately. Avoid the pitfalls of short-term planning by looking at the big picture.
Demand planning systems ensure inventory managers place the appropriate future orders based on projected demand. You won’t have to worry about extra stock piling up in your warehouse, or more importantly, running short on supplies when a customer’s needs exceed what you have on hand.

Reduced Costs

All of this leads to those magical words: cost reduction. Sleep better at night knowing your bottom line isn’t going to suffer a severe blow, either in the form of products gathering dust on the shelves or by dropping big bucks to rush an order because you’re suddenly short 300 units and the customer is beating your door down (figuratively, of course).

The question now is, which solution will give you what you need?

Compare SCM Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

Top Demand Planning Software Tools

To help you choose the best demand planning software, the SelectHub analyst team has carefully evaluated the numerous options available. The following five tools made it to the top of our list:

Infor Demand Planning

A cloud-based, fast and highly collaborative system that helps users create new plans and monitor existing plans. It also helps users optimize operating goals to meet demand, improve services, reduce costs and increase operational efficiency.

The software is suited for multiple industries like food and beverages, FMCG, CPG, wholesale and distribution, manufacturing, consumer electronics, high tech, aftermarket parts, automotive parts, aerospace, defense and others. It helps users make the forecasting process precise through innovative technology, while managing end-to-end omnichannel demand planning seamlessly.

Infor Demand Planning

Users can track and measure revenue against actuals and forecasts.

Top Benefits

  • Single Point Review: Provides a single platform to users for tracking and monitoring people, tasks, events and processes in real time. Users can review outstanding tasks, workflows and individual escalations across the organization and take necessary steps to rectify delays and errors.
  • Omnichannel Demand Planning: Simplify planning processes and align financial planning with the supply chain across all physical and digital touchpoints. It also allows users to engage with consumers and streamline all consumer-facing content to maintain brand identity and collaborate with external and internal partners across the supply chain. Equipped with machine learning, users can also plan sales, margins, and inventory KPIs in real-time.
  • Machine Learning: Leverages machine learning to combine data from all previous forecasts, match them against accuracy and execute to consistently improve the quality of future forecasts.
  • Infor Ming.le Integration: Integrated with Infor Ming.le, a social collaboration platform, the software can manage collaboration with all stakeholders in the supply chain process, including remote offices, external and internal partners, suppliers, contractors and customers to manage forecasting processes and ensure immaculate execution.

Key Features

  • Forecasting: Detects variances in demand patterns for each inventory item and applies a suitable framework to deliver accurate forecasts using probability and historical trend analysis. It also identifies and incorporates the effect of non-recurring events on the baseline forecasting. It also includes new product introductions to reiterate forecasts with precision.
  • Advanced Analytics: Create worksheets to cater to role-specific KPIs and relevant data to support instant decision making. Having all the information in a visual easy-to-comprehend interface also helps users increase productivity.
  • Dashboards and Performance Management: A prescriptive workflow engine creates alerts and reminders to ensure timely completion of tasks and activities. The software maps operational KPIs prevalent in the industry, such as MAPE, bias, absolute error, and individual role-based KPIs in a visual interface. The KPIs are color-coded to benchmark violation, providing a single point of assessment for individual and team-level performances. It also provides a unique and intuitive multi-panel drill down experience.
  • Promotions Management: Create, execute, track and manage promotions in weekly calendars to include trade spends, promotional profiles, cannibalization profiles and its effect on future forecasts.
  • Scenario Management: Define multiple demand scenarios, formulate a plan for them, rate each plan’s effectiveness to reduce obsolescence and guide decisions based on data.
  • Inventory Optimization: Based on forecast accuracy, users can calculate optimal safety stock amounts to help them adjust for demand disruptions and lower inventory investments.
  • Integrations: Seamlessly integrates with many other Infor applications through ERP systems like M3 and LN; Ming.le, Infor Supply Planning and Integrated Business Planning. Such integrations empower the software to collaborate effortlessly, provide aggregated forecasts for various demand scenarios and calculate plans for given scenarios.

Limitations

  • Doesn’t have native Android and iOS mobile apps
  • A free trial is not available
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Logility Demand Optimization

A cloud-based suite of tools that help users with demand planning, forecasting, life cycle planning, proportional profile planning and more.

It is suited for businesses of all sizes in industries like food and beverage, wholesale and distribution, consumer goods, retail, chemicals and more. It also helps users streamline activities and save time, increase accuracy and boost efficiency for both short-term efficacy and long-term planning.

Logility Demand Optimization

Logility lets users keep an eye on important budget and demand information.

Top Benefits

  • Halo Integration: Optimized with another Logility product, Halo, for business analytics capabilities. This integration offers demand and supply modeling for precise planning, inventory visualization and real-time data synchronization from IoT sources.
  • Machine Learning and AI: Machine learning and artificial intelligence lets users make informed decisions faster. It analyzes product and market attributes to create demand profiles and automated accuracy assessments. Responsive to future demand signals and possible demand disruptions, it also automates forecast revisions for better accuracy.

Key Features

  • Demand Planning: Generate forecasts at business levels, while factoring in key aspects like sales and marketing to logistics and financials. Users can also segment demand by customer profile, channel and product attributes. This helps users adjust the difference between high-level business planning and low-level product forecasting, optimize inventory carrying costs and align customer demands with inventory investments.
  • Logility Pulse Wise: Logility Pulse Wise lets users respond favorably to dynamic market conditions and automate planning using an autonomous engine based on artificial intelligence. This engine helps identify and analyze demand signals to update demand planning parameters in real time.
  • Demand Sensing: Logility Demand Sensing utilizes big data to capture and analyze demand signals from all internal and external sources to identify demand patterns and trends while providing advanced warning of any possible gaps in supply and demand. This helps users formulate fast responses in times of crisis and implement agile deployment to improve customer fill-rates.
  • Life Cycle Planning: Analyzes the impact of multiple demand scenarios, past trends, patterns and additional demand signals with artificial intelligence. It can then predict demand for all inventory item life cycle phases, including New Product Introductions (NPI).
  • Proportional Profile Planning: Create flexible, multi-tier, attribute-based and time-phased profiles for demand precision at each life cycle stage. It also helps users predict high-level demand while driving precision at granular levels to synchronize sourcing and production, along with logistics and cost calculations.

Limitations

  • A free trial is not available
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Kinaxis RapidResponse Demand Planning

A cloud-based tool that helps users create collaborative and comprehensive demand forecasts based on statistical factors and multiple functional perspectives.

It serves industries like electronics, automotive, CPG, aerospace and defense, life sciences and more. It can be either deployed as a standalone product or along with other Kinaxis RapidResponse related applications.

Kinaxis RapidResponse Demand Planning

Easily digestible visuals and accessible data keep users up-to-date on valuable information.

Top Benefits

  • Improved Visibility: The platform, along with other supply chain applications associated with this suite, provide end-to-end supply chain visibility with the ability to integrate demand functions with other supply chain processes, improved forecast accuracy and execution of plans across departments.
  • Consensus Demand Plan: Create a consensus demand plan with collaboration between various departments like sales, marketing, finance and demand planning to minimize costs and maximize revenue opportunities.

Key Features

  • Consensus Forecasting: Offers a consensus forecast, combining statistical forecasts with multiple functional forecasts generated based on inputs provided by different departments. This feature allows users to combine demand planning with strategic capacity.
  • Performance Management: Users can measure forecast accuracy using numerous methods to perform a value comparison of each forecast stream against the demand plan and annual plan. With sales data conditioning, users can also identify data errors and outliers to be cleansed and minimize errors going forth.
  • Cross-functional Collaboration: Enables seamless collaboration between departments like marketing, sales, operations, and finance. Users can set up, benchmark and track financial targets and operational KPIs to maintain performance.
  • Demand Inputs: The platform collects demand inputs across sales, marketing, finance and operations. It lets the users submit their assumptions and perspectives, match them against historic patterns and actuals, review stats and revise forecasts accordingly.
  • Reporting: Compare various plans for current demand, aggregate supply, annual demand and supply to track forecasts against actuals and improve strategic decisions.

Limitations

  • Native mobile apps for Android and iOS devices are not available.
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is not supported.
Price: $$$$$
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (SAP APO)

A cloud-based software tool that helps users plan, execute, track and optimize their logistic processes on a strategic and operational level.

Suitable for industries like automotive, aerospace and defense, chemical and pharmaceutical, food and beverages, metal and paper production, electronics, construction and more, it helps users maintain relationships with customers and business partners. It has four modules – SAP Demand Planning, SAP Global Available-to-Promise, SAP Extended Manufacturing and SAP Supply Network Planning – that can be implemented together or licensed individually, depending on the requirement.

SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization

SAP’s forecasting tools help users stay ahead of demand.

Top Benefits

  • Integrations: Fully integrated with SAP ERP via built-in middleware CIF, and SAP SCM via SAP Remote function calls, SAP ALE technology and web services. It also integrates with third-party systems on demand to ensure seamless collaboration and sharing of data.
  • Supply Chain Cockpit: Customizable and intuitive graphical instrument panel for managing, tracking and controlling the supply chain.
  • Supply Chain Collaboration: The Collaborative Planning (CLP) tool generates an optimized, collaborative plan based on data and assumptive inputs of business partners across the supply chain network.
  • Industry-Specific Applications: Pre-built industry-specific modules for different verticals like SAP for aerospace and defense, automotive, industrial machinery and components, mill products, oil & gas, and so on.
  • Product Extensions: The Supply Chain Info Center provides a set of applications – Supply Projection, Stock Coverage, Forecast Accuracy and Capacity Analysis – to monitor and analyze planning objects in SAP APO Demand Planning. These product extensions provide valuable information regarding inventory overview, capacity load, supply plan evaluation and reliability of forecasts. They also identify possible bottlenecks and project supply shortages to help users plan ahead.
  • Data Persistency: Offers data persistence through transactional data storage within an object-oriented in-memory liveCache, which users can access as required.

Primary Features

  • Demand Planning: This module offers planning layouts, interactive planning books and a demand planning library of statistical forecasting and macro techniques. Utilizing these resources, users can adopt a consensus-based approach to create demand plans and forecasts with inputs from different departments. It also allows users to add marketing intelligence, make required management adjustments and manage life cycles, promotions and collaborative demand planning.
  • Supply Network Planning: Operates on heuristic, rule-based and optimization-based algorithms to manage purchasing, manufacturing, distribution and transportation. It also uses constraints and penalties to plan products from across the supply chain network and factors in safety stock planning as well as load building for transportation.
  • Production Planning and Data Scheduling: Manage multi-level production planning using a choice of existing or custom heuristics. Along with an order pegging feature, the platform supports lot quantity calculations and sourcing for make-to-stock, make-to-order, make-to-order with order BOM, engineer-to-order, project manufacturing and flow manufacturing.
  • Global Available-to-Promise: The Global Available-to-Promise (gATP) module runs on a multi-level, rule-based engine to perform component checks, open BOM and deploy product or location substitution strategies. This helps users allocate products, perform backorder processing and fulfill commitments to customers subject to global availability.
  • Service Parts Planning: Caters to planning functions specific to service parts based on product attributes and product sales patterns to determine the frequency of required actions and maintain top-to-bottom transparency throughout the supply chain.
  • Transportation Management: The Transportation Planning/Vehicle Scheduling (TP/VS) module helps users execute transportation planning in the form of shipments based on orders and deliveries created in SAP R/3 and transferred to SAP APO using SAP APO Core Interface (CIF).
  • Multi-Level Supply and Demand Matching: This module helps users align production and demand against supply across channels, and comprises features like Capable-to-Match (CTM) and Supply Distribution.

Limitations

  • The embedded SAP BI architecture is not intended for use for company reporting purposes.
  • Built-in SAP migration between the two deployment options, as part of SAP Supply Chain Management or as an add-on to SAP Enterprise Resource Planning, is not available.
Price: N/A
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Oracle Demand Management Cloud

Part of Oracle Supply Chain Planning Cloud, this cloud-based system combines forecasting algorithms with flexible analytics to help users adopt a customer-centric demand planning methodology.

Suited to industries like automotive, CPG, wholesale & distribution, industrial manufacturing and retail, it helps users monitor operations in real-time and plan for better customer service and reduced costs.

Oracle Demand Management Cloud

Demand plans let users lay out strategies and view helpful information.

Top Benefits

  • Machine Learning: Automated machine learning algorithms that combine fifteen industry standard and proprietary forecasting models to manage demand patterns and product life cycles with accuracy.
  • Analytics: Has a patented Bayesian analytical forecast engine that generates accurate forecasts, and has built-in real-time updates to help users make quick and informed decisions.
  • Statistical Forecasts: Generate statistical forecasts based on several factors and use them to understand demand variations and patterns per factor.
  • Forecast Trees: Forecast trees organize and extrapolate analytical demand forecasts for a given profile. This helps users plan ahead for variations and disruptions, using historical actuals as well as predictive future analyses.
  • Business Insights: Using the Oracle Social Network, users can collect perspectives and assumptions from different departments within their organization, capture and adjust demand forecasts and communicate important information.
  • New Product Forecasts: Launch new products for a sample or specifically targeted audience. The new product can be forecasted based on historic actuals of a similar product. This helps users test initial demand and supply requirements for a new launch.
  • Forecast Simulation: Test and monitor different scenarios by simulating factors like forecasting profile configuration, existing demand plan parameters and other causal factors to see their impact on the forecast in near real time.

Key Features

  • Forecasting: Visualize and track forecast components like baselines, seasonality, trends and other causal factors for continuous and intermittent data series while maintaining causal correlations and adjusting for built-in exceptions.
  • Demand Planning: Record demand insights from external and internal stakeholders to inculcate data and assumptive inputs into demand plan formulation. Moreover, both demand and supply plans can be managed centrally.
  • Demand Sensing: Captures demand inputs from multiple external, internal and industry-dependent sources in real time. Insights captured this way matched against historic patterns and fed into the machine learning algorithm to predict possible impacts on demand patterns and forecasts.
  • Replenishment Planning: Perform demand-driven replenishment planning for inventory items based on item-locations, demand patterns, optimal inventory levels, safety stock levels and replenishment characteristics. Users can also review existing policy values and perform what-if scenarios to improve performance and customer service levels.
  • Customer Service: Configurable dashboards with summary info-tiles, KPIs, data visualization elements and personalized workbenches. It also automates customer-centric business processes and offers provision for dynamic segmentation.
Price: N/A
Deployment:
Platform:

Company Size Suitability: S M L

Compare SCM Pricing & Costs with our Pricing Guide

How to Start Your Investment in Demand Planning

Knowledge is power when it comes to choosing software solutions, so be sure to do your homework, taking into account the trends on the horizon. Also, keep in mind that popularity doesn’t always equal quality. Plenty of smaller products that fly under the radar can deliver brilliant results.

Visit our vendor comparison to see the top demand plannning tools and get more info to inform your decisions. All the vendors on our Leaderboard are known for providing high-quality software activations.

You can opt for a hands-off integration if you have some experience with demand planning and forecasting tools. Or, if you need support, reach out to your chosen provider. They can guide you through the process as well as help you combine multiple systems.

What are some benefits your company could gain from implementing demand planning software? Let us know in the comments!

Shweta JoshiThe Best Demand Planning Software Tools For 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *