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How SAP Demand Planning Can Improve Supply Chain Management

May 22, 2020

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

SAP APO is one of the most essential components of the SAP Supply Chain Management (SCM) solution. A suite of supply chain planner applications, APO helps improve the supply chain process by providing forecasting, planning, and optimization, and one of its most popular components is SAP Demand Planning (DP). Read on to learn more about it.

Benefits of SAP Demand Planning

SAP DP’s advanced forecasting functionality makes it easier than ever for supply chain managers to stay competitive and respond to dynamic market conditions. Of course, the application has plenty of other benefits that can improve supply chain and manufacturing operations in terms of data accuracy, system integration, and overall efficiency. Here are a few of the other aspects of the application we find most exciting: 

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

Challenges and Solutions With SAP Demand Planning

At this point, we should point out that just because your company has a powerful tool at its disposal doesn’t mean it’s making the most of it. In order to perform accurate forecasts, you’re going to need to have SAP DP working correctly. Here are a few of the most common issues we’ve seen supply chain managers face when working with SAP DP, as well as how partnering with an experienced SAP consultant can help solve those challenges. 

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 just the right customizations and integrations so that your application’s user experience works with your employees, not against them.

Problems with SAP DP’s complex features

While basic 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? 

And if you’ve already implemented SAP DP, no problem! A quality consultant can help you optimize your solution to ensure you’re making the most of its complex features and functionality. 

SAP DP isn’t performing properly or delivering inaccurate forecasts

There are many factors that could lead to problems with DP performance and accuracy, but in most cases, we’ve found they often boil down to two main issues: 1) Improper implementation, and/or 2) Software that hasn’t been updated in a while. Either way, bringing on a consultant who understands SAP methodology can help. Thanks to their years of real-world implementation experience, there are few kinds of challenges they haven’t encountered. Plus, a quality SAP consultant understands the value of thorough testing and updating to ensure that DP functions properly. 

Using only limited functionality of SAP DP

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

Not having established goals for the solution

Let’s say you’ve done your research and you know exactly what you want to get out of DP. 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 consultant can help guide you on that journey so that everyone knows how to make sure the solution is meeting your expectations. 

Getting Started With SAP Demand Planning

Expertly plan and execute your supply chain management 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, integrations, and make the most of everything SAP DP has to offer. 

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

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