Inventory Planning Excellence

Inventory Planning Excellence is defined by the capacity to achieve more (high service levels) with low costs and low workload. This article will run through a 4-step process to achieve this excellence: 1. Service level strategy, 2. Automated execution, 3. Alerts and exceptions, 4. E2E control tower.

Nicolas Vandeput
9 min readMar 13


Horsehead nebula. Picture taken by my father from his garden.

At the core of inventory planning processes lies the objective of serving customers (but not too much — more about this later) at the lowest costs with the lowest effort. As for demand planning, we want to achieve more (serve our customers better at the lowest cost) by working smarter — not harder.

Figure 1 Inventory planning excellence: achieving the highest service with the lowest costs and workload.

We will achieve inventory planning excellence thanks to four steps:

  1. Defining how much service level we want to offer (piloting, where we set an objective for our inventory policies)
  2. Automating most of the execution thanks to data-driven models (automated execution)
  3. Enabling planners to act on alerts and exceptions (planners’ reviews)
  4. Using a dashboard to monitor our business and process end-to-end (control tower)
Figure 2 Inventory planning excellence relies on four steps.

Let’s discuss these steps one by one.

Piloting: Service Level Strategy

(As a preliminary note, defining a service level (or fulfillment) strategy comes after defining a business and a supply chain strategy — which is out of the scope of this article. In this article, we will discuss make-to-stock policies (MTS), assuming your business decided to go for MTS



Nicolas Vandeput

Consultant, Trainer, Author. I reduce forecast error by 30% 📈 and inventory levels by 20% 📦. Contact me: