Since demand and supply planning is an inherently complex process that is unique to each company, DemandCaster is built with numerous modules and settings that help all types of manufacturers and distributors model they’re planning to mimic their reality.
To help users learn how to configure DemandCaster to meet their planning needs, the DemandCaster documentation site includes a multitude of articles that will help you learn and navigate the many options and functions within the software. The outline below is a list of rules, suggestions, and helpful articles to get you started.
We have organized the document in major sections to introduce you to the functional structure of the software. Each section includes a summary with links to other articles that provide a deeper dive into the specific functional area. After each major section, please feel free to reach out to us to request a follow up of the section covered. We have found that the best way to learn the software is reading the section first, working with the software, and then asking us questions concerning any area that is unclear or you require more information or assistance.
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DemandCaster is a browser-based application. We recommend using Google Chrome or any other Chromium based browser such as Microsoft Edge. We also support Firefox and Safari but do not regularly test against these. We DO NOT recommend Internet Explorer.
What does DemandCaster do?
The primary purpose of DemandCaster is to help user set an items optimal order point. The inventory order point is the basis for establishing a companies optimal inventory levels (the level between too much and too little) when the following variables are taken into account.
- Replenishment lead time - the longer the lead time the more inventory must be carried on hand and on order.
- Volatility of historical demand - the higher the volatility, the more uncertainty, and the more inventory must be carried.
- Projected (forecasted) demand during the lead time and beyond - the higher the accuracy the lower the inventory.
- Desired level of customer service - the amount of extra inventory to carry to accommodate demand or supply uncertainty.
An items order point is calculated as Forecast Over Lead Time + Safety Stock in the Basic Forecasting and Inventory Platform as described below. With the Advanced Planning add-on, the forecast portion is defined in the Demand Plan and the Safety Stock is calculated in the Supply Plan. The Order Point is used in day to day requirement planning upon approval of the S&OP plan.
The article Basic Order Quantity and Replenishment Logic provides an overview of the order point logic.
Organization and Navigation
The DemandCaster Navigation menu is where you are able to quickly move from one interface to another. We are showing the full menu with all possible DemandCaster modules installed. Your navigation structure will vary depending on your companies deployment.
The DemandCaster menu is organized with a top down / left to right process logic. Where the top and left most menu options are typically run before the next step.
The menu itself is structured as follows:
- Left hand side panel is organized in major planning areas tied to your subscription.
- The menu may be expanded by clicking the Plex logo.
- Each planning area has an associated sub-menu that opens specific functional areas of the software. The sub-menu opens by clicking on the left hand side panel are and also runs horizontally once the primary page is open.
- The specific functional area is not shown until you click the selection in the sub-menu.
Here is a quick video of the menu structure.
Systems settings are the general DemandCaster settings that are applied to all items. When starting to use DemandCaster, we recommend reviewing and then editing the base planning policies in system settings. We suggest that you review each setting along with the articles in the section System Settings to understand the definition and purpose of each setting.
System Settings are available by clicking on the "Gear" icons and then clicking on "System Settings."
The Data menu is where automated and manual data loads are managed. It also is where the master data may be review. The Data menu group includes up to four components:
- Data Upload: Allows user to manually upload data and view the details of automated uploads.
- Data Hub: Users with data hub access are able to schedule data uploads from their ERP to DemandCaster or run new data extracts on demand. This is only available if the Data Hub integration is installed.
- Data Maintenance: Users are able to to manually edit or disable items and other uploaded data.
- Plex Order Creation Log: Only available to Plex customers that create orders back to Plex.
Advanced Business Planning (optional add-on)
The Advanced Planning add-on is built on the capabilities offered in the Advanced Requirement Planning Platform. It is based on the premise that statistical forecasting alone can only take you so far.
Advanced Planning is about demand and supply alignment by taking the forecasting process back to sales, marketing, and finance for their input and adjustments. Edits to forecasts can be made at any level of a companies unique planning hierarchy and the changes roll top down and bottom up. Pricing may be modified to change revenue projections. Promotion and one time events may be layered in via the Event Planning module and most importantly actual to plan performance is tracked on an ongoing basis.
Once the Demand Plan is reviewed and approved, a Supply Plan may be generated based on a level loaded or demand chase supply plan model. Thereafter the impact of the plans may be reviewed against inventory and capacity. The platform also allows for adjustments to be made in a sandbox environment prior to approving for to day to day requirement planning execution.
Where the real value and performance is derived is via collaboration. This is because all parties are aligned using the same set of data and sales and marketing directly drive operations. As a result, excuses start to go away and accountability is driven. Studies have proven that companies that are best at demand planning/ forecasting average:
- 15% less inventory
- 17% increase in perfect order fulfillment
- 35% shorter cash-to-cash cycle times,
- 1/10th of the stock-outs of their peers.
The Advanced Planning menu group includes the following elements:
- Demand Plan:
- Scenario Plan:
- Supply Plan: This interface allows the user to execute a requirement plan to assess the impact on inventory and capacity. It is executed following the initiation of the supply plan. The results of this review could initiate changes to the demand plan if supply is unable to meet the requirements stated.
- Capacity Review: The detailed capacity view resulting from the requirement view.
- Plan Approval: After the Demand and Supply plans are ready, the plan is approved in DemandCaster in order to drive the day to day requirement plan. Requirement planning uses the S&OP approved demand and supply plan until the next approval is initiated normally at the start of the following month.
- Change Log: View changes made to the plan by user, type, date, time. Includes capability to undo demand plan changes.
- Hierarchy: The interface where the user establishes the S&OP hierarchy. This is executed during setup of the S&OP process or as new hierarchical levels are introduced.
Market Forecast Manager (optional add-on)
Market Forecast Manager is an add-on to Advanced Business Planning to help planners supplement their forecasting and demand planning process with up-to-date and vetted data sources, such as IHS Markit’s Light Vehicle Forecast and/or Point of Sale data. Together, the solutions reduce risk by automating the data exchange, intelligently forecasting, contextualizing demand plans, and optimizing production and capacity.
The Market Forecast Manager menu group includes up to two components depending on which is provisioned in your account.
- IHS: This consumes and manages IHS Markit’s Light Vehicle Forecast data
- POS: This consumes and manages point of sale data
The Requirement Plan is a component of the core Advanced Requirements Planning platform. It includes two components:
- Item Selection: The main selection interface where users select items for Requirement Planning in addition to changing item related planning options.
- Planner Action: The list of all the resulting Requirement Plans and Planner Action results.
Capacity Requirement Planning
The Capacity module plans work center to identify capacity issues. It includes:
- Capacity Grid: Provides a capacity management and production scheduling grid.
- Data Maintenance: Adds capability to manage and view routings and work centers.
Analytics are designed to help users focus on the most important items and also help review and modify planning settings and other variables so that appropriate planning and stocking policies may be applied. Analytics includes 6 components:
- Classification: Multi-criteria segmentation analysis by business importance (ABC), order frequency (high, medium, and low), and forecast accuracy (high, medium, and low).
- Forecast: Item based forecasting statistics
- Lead Time: Manufacturing and supplier lead time and on time performance analysis.
- Stocking: Analysis to determine if and what level of a bill of material an item should be stocked.
- Order Point: Result of the different safety stock and forecast options that together set the order point for a given item item.
- Review: Analysis of how well an order point performed relative to actual results.
The Reports menu group includes three components:
- Reports: Numerous standard and company specify excel and PDF reports available to download on demand.
- Custom Reports: User defined custom reports using the data available in DemandCaster.
- Forecast Performance: Analysis of forecast performance by item and analysis date.
The Users menu group is available to the DemandCaster administrator to help manage users. It includes four components:
- Users: List of all authorized DemandCaster users.
- User Groups: Organization of the different user groups. Each user group has a different set of view permissions. As an example, a user group may be suppliers where they are only able to view the items they produce without seeing customer or pricing information.
- Roles: Different user roles.
- Permissions: The assignment of the different view permissions by user role.
- Tags: A tag is a unique value applied to an item
- Tag Categories: The capability to group tags
The Utilities menu group includes five components:
- Automation: Interface to automate analysis such as nightly requirement planning.
- Notes: All user inputted notes.
- Lock Periods: Provides the capability to pre-schedule periods where orders cannot be scheduled for delivery. Helpful in situations such as scheduling around Chinese New Year as an example.
- Change Log: Record of changes made to DemandCaster data and settings.
- Announcements: Placeholder for in-app announcements
- Batching: Order batching management.
Continue to navigate through the balance of the articles in this section to gain a deeper understanding of the structures and settings of the DemandCaster software application.
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