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A demand planner is a professional who achieves many goals and administrates many aspects of product inventory, supply chain statistics, and general demand for products or services. Demand planners often operate in product-centered industries like retail or manufacturing. They often work on "product fulfillment", or other strategic plans around the central issue of supply and demand.
Multiple departments within a company will frequently interact with the demand planner. This person may meet with sales or marketing departments, as well as with departments like engineering or warehousing, to come up with effective top-level plans for meeting demand or accommodating customers. In general, the demand planning professional operates as a company-wide driver for process improvement or efficiency with an eye toward overall demand for products and services.
One essential thing that companies often look for from a demand planning professional is something pros call "forecasting". In some ways, there is a prophetic component to what companies want from a demand planner. This professional individual often works up reports and other resources on future demand, fusing information about the past and present, to project what will happen relative to supply and demand for company products.
In order to accomplish many professional goals and tasks, the demand planning professional may use various sources of information. Some of the information around a supply chain comes from within the company, in the form of observational reports on inventory, and how fast products are moving. Demand planners may also use outside information from analysts or consultants to further develop reports on future demand.
In addition to the kind of cross-functional research that helps a demand planning professional to forecast inventory needs, this person may also be involved in working with a company’s software architecture. Some software programs can help a demand planner to input data into supply chain or logistics applications. Other software tools are critical in forming the kinds of projections that company management will look for. This is why it helps for someone in this field to have a general knowledge of IT.
Many experts point out that the various skills for a demand planner include not only technical awareness, but also a variety of hands-on approaches to product development. The demand planner may need to visit physical locations to get a better personal outlook on the movements of products or materials, and other events in the supply chain. Logistics, or supply-chain, oriented degrees or qualifications may help the demand planner to establish his or her applicable skills to a potential employer.
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