Making the Leap: Why Move from Spreadsheets to Demand Planning Software?

Your spreadsheets seem to be doing everything you ask of them. Over the years, you’ve customized and linked them so that they’ll spit out the numbers you need, when you need them. Sure, the presentation value of a spreadsheet isn’t so great, but….at least you know what you’re getting.

demand planning software - take the leapWhy, then, should you even consider switching from spreadsheets to software? What can demand planning software give you that you’re not already getting from Microsoft Excel? 

Do you know or appreciate the value that a demand planning solution could drive within your business?

Most blog posts these days seem to offer the “Top Five Things You’re Missing by Not Doing X” or the “Top Seven Advantages to Doing X.” I’m only going to give you two reasons for switching from spreadsheets to demand planning software – but they’re good ones.

First Reason: Nobody Is Bigger Than a Business Process

Businesses revolve around people – talented people. But people move around. Meanwhile, the business must go on. That’s why it’s not a good idea to let your business processes live in the heads – and spreadsheets – of individual employees.

When you jump from spreadsheets to demand planning software, you transcend individuals and ensure the health and continuity of your most important business processes. Rather than relying on someone to tweak a formula in a spreadsheet every time your forecast changes, you can rely on a software system that’s designed to make these changes automatically and that facilitates and quantifies changes in your business strategy.

Spreadsheets meet the needs of individuals. Demand planning software meets the needs of businesses. As you prepare to make the leap from spreadsheets, you’ll encounter employees who dig in their heels and protest. They’re probably afraid of losing their power or place in the business. Remind them that this change is about the overall health of your organization – and that they will also benefit as they gain the opportunity to become even more valuable to the business.

Second Reason: Numbers Aren’t Enough

Set up your spreadsheet the right way, and it will spit out the numbers you need for next quarter’s forecast.

Great! What do those numbers really mean? How are they generated?

When you work with spreadsheets, you’re on your own. It’s up to you and your team to decide how to manage the risk in those numbers. For many supply chain professionals, that means spending the next few weeks (or longer) making mental calculations of how much product they’ll need to buy or produce.

Even most “forecasting” software solutions don’t give you a lot of help here – they churn out numbers and leave you to connect the dots.

You need a more sophisticated methodology. You need a way to transform your planners from human calculators into true analysts. You need an approach that will manage the risk in your numbers, whilst facilitating the execution of a consistent and disciplined strategy. Demand planning software provides a way.

With the right demand planning solution, you can run your initial forecasting numbers through exception-based filters. The solution will identify potential problems and highlight them for your review. You can further improve your efficiency and effectiveness by using ABC forecasting to rank your top 50, 100, or 500 items as you see fit through a multi-dimensional ABC analysis. This will enable you to prioritize your time and effort and to proactively address the supply issues that may result.

Build a Roadmap – Not a Spreadsheet – for Your Business

The underlying theme in all of this is that when you run your business with demand planning software, you can actually build a roadmap for where you’re going over the course of the next few months, quarters, and years. More importantly, you’re providing a platform for your CEO and CFO that provides greater visibility and drives the business the way they can only dream of at the moment.

Compare that to a company that runs inconsistent, undisciplined planning processes that revolve around entering data into spreadsheets. What happens when the “author” of the spreadsheet is out sick? What happens when the spreadsheet breaks?

There’s no comparison. Demand Solutions can give you the tools to execute consistent, disciplined strategies that flow right down from your executives to your inventory planning staff. To learn more, drop us a line today.