Product planning and control is a business strategy designed to ensure that the output and availability of products to consumers is maintained at acceptable levels. This essentially means that production planning takes into consideration the current level of consumer demand, controls the production process so that the output is sufficient to meet that demand, and even involves arranging for the finished goods to be transported to outlets that allow consumers to make those purchases. As part of the overall process of product planning and control, factors such as the nature and design of the product, the packaging, the price to consumers, and even the locations where the product is placed for sale are considered in great detail.
A number of elements go into making product planning and control effective. One aspect has to do with understanding the current level of consumer demand, both in terms of the actual volume and the reasons for that demand. Historical data makes it easier to understand the upward and downward movement of demand in certain economic periods, which in turn makes it easier to project future demand based on what has happened before. This particular aspect of product planning and control aids in setting upcoming production schedules so that consumer demand is met but the company is not left with a huge inventory of finished goods that are unlikely to sell in an appreciable period of time.
Another aspect of product planning and production is to consider the nature of the product itself. Data collected from consumer comments or responses to surveys can often provide food for thought on how to improve the quality or function of a product so that a greater demand is created. Here, the process relies on building strong rapport with consumers who then feel free to articulate what they like about the product and what they think would improve it. For example, consumers may indicate they prefer a specific type of laundry detergent and would buy it more frequently if it were available with a certain scent. If research bears out that demand would likely increase if the product were available with that scent, the production schedule can be restructured to allow the manufacture of that variation of the product and capture those additional consumers.
Even something as simple as the packaging will be part of the process for product planning and control. Ideally, the packaging will be easily identifiable to consumers, which helps to limit the chances of scanning similar products and choosing a different one. The packaging must also be functional for consumers, possibly formulated to a size that can be easily stored on home shelves. The size, color, and shape of the packaging can often be crucial when it comes to maintaining demand and in turn setting production schedules to meet that demand.
A final aspect of product planning and control has to do with the delivery of the product. Even the highest quality product that is in the most efficient and recognizable of packaging will not be purchased by consumers if it is not readily available at the outlets in which they shop. Here, the process addresses where to sell the product, how many units to ship to each one, and even how those products are displayed in those outlets. When managed to best effect, this aspect of the product planning and control process can help maintain demand and keep the company in production for many years to come.