Executive Briefings

Dorman Products Transforms Its Demand-Planning Process

With sales of roughly half a billion dollars, Dorman Products is one of the world's leading manufacturers of automotive parts for the aftermarket, selling more than 100,000 distinct products. The company has experienced sharp growth over the past four years, says director of corporate forecasting Donald H. Mitchell. Recently, it saw the need to transform its demand-planning process, in order to create "a more transparent environment."

Demand-planning can be a difficult task to carry out under any circumstances. "Within the organization, it gets looked at as a black hole," Mitchell says. "People don't understand what forecasting is."

The push for transparency began with the capturing of data used to make key decisions. Historically, says Mitchell, Dorman had relied in large part on anecdotal information. "We needed to get into more fact-based decision-making."

The major challenge was culture change, says senior corporate analyst Tom Savage. "Transparency is not something that people undertake willingly. The natural way is to do what's been working for the last ten years."

From the start, it was crucial to get buy-in from top executives, as well as throughout the organization. Earlier this year, Mitchell says, Dorman had to adjust its forecast because growth turned out to be different from the plan. A few years ago, that change would have required hours of meetings, followed by a perfunctory conversation with the CEO and executive team. Now, with Dorman seeking to instill culture change throughout the company, it became important to base key decisions on what was right for the whole organization, not just a particular team or product line. "We needed to be able to make smart decisions, especially in times when we're growing," says Mitchell.

Forecasting today requires more than just raw data, says Savage. The company also looks at such "fact-based" information as sales and individual product trends. In casting a wider net, it required more of a collaborative effort among the various functions that make up the supply chain.

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Keywords: Forecasting & Demand Planning, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Business Process Management, Collaboration & Integration, Customer Relationship Mgmt., Event Management, Order Fulfillment & P.O. Mgmt., Sales & Operations Planning, Supplier Relationship Management, SC Finance & Revenue Mgmt., SC Planning & Optimization, Supply Chain Visibility, Global Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain Analysis & Consulting, Quality & Metrics, Business Strategy Alignment, Automotive, Plan Variance, Demand Variability, Demand Volatility

Demand-planning can be a difficult task to carry out under any circumstances. "Within the organization, it gets looked at as a black hole," Mitchell says. "People don't understand what forecasting is."

The push for transparency began with the capturing of data used to make key decisions. Historically, says Mitchell, Dorman had relied in large part on anecdotal information. "We needed to get into more fact-based decision-making."

The major challenge was culture change, says senior corporate analyst Tom Savage. "Transparency is not something that people undertake willingly. The natural way is to do what's been working for the last ten years."

From the start, it was crucial to get buy-in from top executives, as well as throughout the organization. Earlier this year, Mitchell says, Dorman had to adjust its forecast because growth turned out to be different from the plan. A few years ago, that change would have required hours of meetings, followed by a perfunctory conversation with the CEO and executive team. Now, with Dorman seeking to instill culture change throughout the company, it became important to base key decisions on what was right for the whole organization, not just a particular team or product line. "We needed to be able to make smart decisions, especially in times when we're growing," says Mitchell.

Forecasting today requires more than just raw data, says Savage. The company also looks at such "fact-based" information as sales and individual product trends. In casting a wider net, it required more of a collaborative effort among the various functions that make up the supply chain.

To view video in its entirety, click here


Keywords: Forecasting & Demand Planning, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Business Process Management, Collaboration & Integration, Customer Relationship Mgmt., Event Management, Order Fulfillment & P.O. Mgmt., Sales & Operations Planning, Supplier Relationship Management, SC Finance & Revenue Mgmt., SC Planning & Optimization, Supply Chain Visibility, Global Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain Analysis & Consulting, Quality & Metrics, Business Strategy Alignment, Automotive, Plan Variance, Demand Variability, Demand Volatility