Six Steps to Better Sales Forecasting and Demand Planning in an Intelligent Enterprise

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A good article from last year’s Intelligent Enterprise covered six steps to better sales forecasting and demand planning. The process, which should revolve around the four critical components of people, process, information, and technology at its core, is straight-forward and a good guide for any organization that needs to improve its demand planning (since good demand projections are critical to getting good sourcing results).

  1. Conduct an SF/DP process and system assessment
    Start with an independent and unbiased evaluation of your financial and operational performance planning processes and systems that establishes benchmarks for current effectiveness and identifies areas for improvement.
  2. Identify user requirements and project scope
    Define the business requirements, develop clear definitions of information needs (for proper planning), and what product / service lines you will be addressing.
  3. Build a business case that improves value and results
    Decide whether you need better systems, better processes, or both … then, once you’ve quantified the costs, outline the expected improvements in the results and build a business case that will define the expected value and ROI.
  4. Assemble the program and plan
    Once you have approval, it’s time to define the implementation and change management program that will realize the expected benefits. Then determine the communication plan that will insure that each affected individual knows what she has to do, when, to insure project success as well as the value the program will deliver to them (to give them incentive to contribute to the overall success).
  5. Evaluate new technology against the program plan
    As you are implementing the technology, you’ll need to evaluate its effectiveness. This will require specific product evaluation criteria that should be defined in advanced.
  6. Deploy the integrated SF/DP program and set of processes
    Be sure to implement the new processes in a way that minimizes disruptions to the business, culture, and technology infrastructure.

The article also discusses a Maturity Model, the potential impact of failure, and the role that people, process, information, and technology impacts.