When it comes to managing supply chain volatility, visibility, and regulation (not to mention trying to do all of the above while keeping costs low), supply chain managers are up against several challenges. These pressures have them looking for innovative ways to refine how they forecast and manage demand with new technology.

This is where SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO) comes in to help!

Read on to learn more about SAP APO and how SAP Demand Planning and Forecasting tools can help optimize supply and demand management in your organization.

What is SAP APO Demand Planning?

SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization is one of the most essential components of the SAP Supply Chain Management (SCM) solution. SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization offers a suite of supply chain planning applications that help improve the supply chain process by providing advanced planning, forecasting, and optimization, and one of its most popular components is SAP APO Demand Planning (DP).

SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization allows employees to use customized supply planning layouts and advanced planning modules to build a demand plan that integrates the functions of different departments and companies into the supply and demand forecasting process.

Benefits of SAP Demand Planning

SAP DP’s advanced forecasting functionality makes it easier than ever for supply chains to stay competitive and respond to dynamic market conditions.

Here are a few of the other main features of the application that can benefit your organization: 

  • It can predict market demands for your products through an efficient forecast model.
  • It’s highly flexible, enabling the demand planning process within any business. 
  • Thanks to advanced statistical demand forecasting and sophisticated macro techniques, it’s easy for anyone (even non-technical folks) to create a forecast model based on demand history.  
  • Promotions and forecast overrides add marketing intelligence and enable management adjustments. 

SAP DP Integration Capabilities

Let’s take a closer look at the two main integrations for SAP Demand Planning:

Integration within the APO System

First, integration with other components of the APO system allows SAP Demand Planning to install SAP Business Intelligence (BI) queries from the SAP SCM system, simplifying reports and keeping track of critical processes through every step of the product lifecycle.

These integration capabilities also give users a comprehensive picture of demand throughout the organization, offering better insight into production and distribution and how that affects the demand planning process which defines activity in the demand planning cycle.

Integration with External Systems

Second, the Data Warehousing Workbench allows users to load data into SAP Demand Planning from the SAP ERP system, an SAP BI system, an external system, or a flat file. This way, planned and actual data from your SAP systems or any other system files can be accessed through a single web-based interface.

Integrations between SAP Demand Planning and other applications and systems allow managers and employees to build forecasts and demand plans together – making advanced planning and optimization of your demand planning cycle more effective in the long run.

Challenges and Solutions With SAP DP

Just because your company has a powerful tool like this at its disposal doesn’t mean it’s making the most of it. To perform accurate forecasts, your SAP Demand Planning module must work correctly.

Here are a few of the most common issues we’ve seen supply chain managers face when working with SAP DP and how partnering with SAP industry experts can help solve those challenges.

1) Lack of employee buy-in or use of the application

If you want to get the most out of your SAP software, your employees need to know how to use it effectively. In addition to assisting with proper training, senior-level SAP consultants have the expertise to set up the right customizations and integrations so that your application’s user experience works with your employees, not against them.

2) Problems with SAP DP’s complex features

While primary supply chain best practices are the same from company to company, your specific organization has its own unique needs.

And, while SAP’s out-of-the-box functionality will probably be a decent fit, why not bring in an implementation partner to tailor the solution to fulfill your supply chain goals? If you’ve already implemented SAP’s demand plan features, no problem! A quality SAP consultant can help you optimize your solution to maximize its complex features and functionality. 

3) SAP DP is delivering inaccurate forecasts

Many factors could lead to problems with supply planning performance and accuracy, but in most cases, we’ve found they often boil down to two main issues:

1. Improper implementation

2. Software that hasn’t been updated in a while

Either way, bringing on a consultant who understands SAP methodology and the entire demand planning process can help. Thanks to their years of real-world implementation experience, there are a few kinds of challenges they haven’t encountered. A quality SAP consultant understands the value of thorough testing and updating to ensure that DP functions properly. 

4) Using only limited functionality of SAP DP

As with any software, certain aspects of DP aren’t exactly intuitive, meaning that you or your team probably won’t start knowing everything it can do. An SAP consultant, however, has a firm grasp of all those exceedingly useful features that could take you years to uncover, and what’s more, they’re happy to share them with you.

5) No established goals for the solution

Let’s say you’ve done your research and know exactly what you want from Demand Planning. But we have two questions for you. First, have you set any concrete goals for what you want the application to achieve? Second, have you shared them across your organization?

Obviously, strategic goals are vital for any business, but a qualified SAP consultant can help guide you on that journey so everyone knows how to make sure the solution is meeting expectations. 

Getting Started With Demand and Supply Planning in SAP APO

Expertly build your demand plan and execute your SCM process and solution by partnering with the experts. Our senior-level SAP consultants can help you fine-tune your supply chain goals, improve implementations, optimizations, and integrations, and make the most of everything SAP DP has to offer. 

Need help navigating through your demand planning process or building a detailed scheduling plan within your SAP system? Whether your needs lie in specific SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization modules or in any other SAP application, our consultants have the skills and experience to handle it all.

Surety Senior SAP Demand Planning Consultant

  • US Citizen
  • 24+ years of SAP SCM experience
  • Expert in the Sales and Distribution/SCM modules
  • Excels with designing, implementing, and supporting SCM (APO) GATP and Demand Planning (DP) processes
  • Well-versed with Demand Planning, Supply Network Planning (SNP), Global Availability to Promise (GATP), Core Interface (CIF)
  • Substantial SAP S/4HANA experience

Contact us today to learn how we can help you roll out the right tools for demand planning success.