Consensus Demand: Gaining the Right Insight from Marketing, Sales, and Product Departments

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Supply Chain leaders in mature organizations know that a well-designed S&OP process can help improve the top and bottom lines while maintaining customer service levels. When cross-functional departments align and act on one set of goals, projections, and plans, both the organization and its customers benefit.

So, what is holding organizations back from reaping the full rewards of S&OP? Well, supply chain execs could face challenges during S&OP initiatives due to the lack of an agreed-upon set of informational inputs and outputs to be provided by each function during the consensus demand-planning process.  Without full and accurate participation from each department, the benefits of S&OP diminish.

Suggested inputs by department:

DepartmentTime HorizonGranularityHurdlesInput to S&OP
Marketing12-24 monthsBrand/FamilyMarketing forecasting bias (typically over-forecasts)Time-phased volume/revenue and profit forecast based on brand and portfolio activities
Sales3-6 monthsBrand/Family with historical markers OR Item/Location/Customer breakdown for NPIs or items undergoing market changesSales forecasting bias (typically under-forecasts)Time-phased volume/revenue forecast based on sales activities in the marketplace
Product12-18 MonthsBrand/Family/ItemProduct development bias (both over- and under-forecast)Time-phased view of product innovations deletions, and modifications

Consensus Demand is a pivotal milestone to reach in planning efforts that undoubtedly brings greater ROI to cross-departmental collaborative planning efforts. Bringing Marketing, Sales, and Product into the fold is an important and delicate task that ultimately proves to benefit both customers and the c-suite by enhancing service levels and moving the top and bottom lines.

Departmental insight should be applied after the baseline forecast has gone through a best-fit analysis. Then, the demand planners should appropriately adjust the departmental forecasts accounting for any inherent bias, and finally combine them with the best-fit forecast. Finally, after alignment with financial goals, a true Consensus Demand Plan can be locked down, which will better serve the company and its customers. Below is an example from our partner, Neways, on how a “build-up” to Consensus Demand looks.