Hub 2014 Recap: Demand Planning

Aramark’s Autumn Bayless, VP Global Operational Excellence, joined our own Mohan Rajagopalan, Senior Manager Product Marketing , for “Demand Planning: Smarter Product Mix, Targeted Segments, Maximized Sales”. In this operations breakout session, Autumn shared how by leveraging built-in time and planning intelligence, Anaplan’s Demand Planning application enables Aramark’s market planners to determine the best allocation of products, down to a SKU level, to distribute across customer segments and locations.

Common Demand Planning Challenges

Everyone is trying to plan across vast hierarchies, whether they are product SKU or vast geographic regions with sales and service locations with differing needs and opportunities. Planning across these hierarchies is well outside the capabilities of a spreadsheet. And lack of a tool to effectively track data across these hierarchies, and integrate specific field level intelligence, leads to ineffective, inaccurate demand planning and common challenges such as:

• Difficulty to keep product hierarchies aligned with alternate organizations of the list.
• Inability to align the demand plan with promotion strategy or new product launch process.
• Uncertainty around activating channel strategy to determine where to send products
• No ability to plan at SKU level.

And that’s where Anaplan Demand Planning comes in. Anaplan empowers collaboration with field managers to plan and present demand plans, reduces inventory time with smarter analytics around buying scales of targeted customers across channels, and maximizes sales by targeting customers with the best product mix.

A Day in the Life of a Category Manager

Using Anaplan’s Demand Planning, the category manager start their day by reviewing their allocations, then sets spreading rules, adds additional product SKUs, and then forecasts P&L as a result of these changes.

When looking at a specific customer and a specific product, you can see a number of assumptions, side-by-side, that are driving the forecast. After you’re happy with all of your baseline business rules, and you have the volume forecast set up to your specifications, it’s very hands off. The forecast auto-adjusts itself based upon the real time data coming in. And you are able to easily see the differences between your forecast and your actuals, allowing you to adjust for the next period based upon those learnings.

Similarly, the promotional forecast uses the data regarding how successful your promotions were in the past, and integrates it with the volume forecast. This allows you to apply those promotional lift characteristics at the SKU customer level. Then, over the time period you are running that promotion, it will forecast the exact volume per customer per SKU that will be generated as a result of that promotion and your overall promotional plan.

This level of precision is also available on the New Product Launch dashboard. In addition to being able to quickly and easily drop new products into your product hierarchy, with costing and pricing characteristics, you can layer them into the plan. You start by selecting when in the year they will launch, and make assumptions about what the client’s product mix will look like, using data from a similar product category of your choice to trend out the new product’s forecast.

How Anaplan has Empowered Aramark’s Market Planners, Improving Product Allocations

At Aramark, Autumn’s Global Excellence Team is focused on providing consistent, high quality, efficient service to their clients and consumers. They have 270,000 employees servicing thousands of university, healthcare, education, and entertainment venue customers.

Before Anaplan, Aramark had an analytical labor demand project they needed to deploy across their numerous account locations, and were hampered by disparate data kept at the local level at these various sites. They needed to have a view into their demand at a local level where they didn’t have centralized visibility. And they needed a quick solution that could be easily understood by account teams and the field managers. Adding to the complexity, each individual location served had differing regulations and standards governing their available product and service, and had a range of point of sale systems and data configurations as a result.

After implementing Anaplan, Aramark was able to aggregate their multiple data sources into a single Anaplan cloud-based solution. Their models were completed and in use in two months, beating their three month deadline. The resulting reports and charts were simple and easy to understand, and the majority of them are still in use today.

The new reports allow the planners to show field managers the opportunities the data uncover. This helps them see how they can meet their quarterly numbers. After they make the changes, they’re quickly seeing reduced labor, without taking a hit to customer service levels. These uncovered efficiencies, in addition to their local impact, will eventually be able to be used by Aramark to benchmark and streamline processes across the organization.

Stay tuned for more highlights from HUB 2014, and check out our archive of conference presentations on SlideShare.

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