Tag Archive: accuracy

Is there an ROI on a Forecasting System?

September 12th, 2019

A Client Question
Since forecasting can deliver significant benefits with increased levels of service, inventory turnover and margin improvement, the question that inevitably arises is whether it makes sense to purchase a forecasting or demand planning system. Of course, the answer is: “It depends”.

In one client situation, goods were manufactured in Mexico and purchased from Asia. Key customers were large retail outlets. Demand seemed to change daily.  Yet, lead times were in the months if the ‘right’ stock wasn’t in the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time. Of course, they could cover some small changes by adding freight costs but that isn’t a recipe for profit. Improving the forecast would improve their success. So, the question turned to whether a system would have a ROI.

The Answer
In their case, they could achieve a rapid return on investment by using a forecasting system. However, let me say upfront that more often than not, I do not recommend a system. It completely depends on whether it will drive the appropriate level of improvement and associated results or not. In this case, we could easily drive dramatic forecast accuracy improvement since we started out at such a low level of accuracy due to the business environment, industry and key customers. The people understood the importance of the providing forecast feedback and although the key customers didn’t have “good” forecasts to provide, they could provide data we could analyze. In these types of situations, we are able to reduce inventory by a minimum of 20%.  It should be noted, though, that results can be far greater.

Food For Thought
Although forecasting systems can be a great idea to drive service, inventory and margin improvement, they do not always provide a return. Take a step back to understand your industry from a forecasting point-of-view:

  • Is demand constantly changing?
  • Are you supporting small numbers of customer/location points with less than 25 items or is it 100 fold?
  • Are you able to gain key customer input and/or point-of-sale data?
  • Do you have anyone familiar with demand planning and forecasting to be able to make sense of what a system is telling you?
  • And, last but definitely not least, have you found the appropriate scale for your forecasting system?

Trying to kill a fly with an assault rifle is overkill. If you are interested in running your situation by us, contact us.

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Robots & Demographics

June 7th, 2017

According to Industry Week and Moody’s Investor Service, there could be a significant upside to robots with the near-term demographic time bomb in Japan and Germany. Certainly, work will need to continue to get done; however, as more and more workers retire, that could become a challenge. Thus, robots might have another advantage in addition to automation – as the percentage of workers over 65 is expected to soar in both Japan and Germany, robots might substitute for labor. Also, both countries are early robot adopters. The time is ripe for robots.

Robots & Demographics

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

The key question is whether you are pursuing automation, robots and other strategies to meet your objectives – whether it is to increase efficiency, replace labor (as it becomes harder to find) or to increase accuracy. If you don’t start thinking about how to incorporate this type of strategic thinking into your plans now, the opportunity is likely to pass you by.

Technology changes daily. For example, there is never the “right” time to purchase a computer. By the time you purchase the computer, technology has changed. However, if you wait for that perfect time, it could be similar to hanging onto a Blackberry waiting for the perfect upgrade. Instead, think about which technology and automation is important in supporting your business objectives. Don’t just pursue technology for technology’s sake but correlate the appropriate technology with your business objectives to achieve success. Do a bit of research, ask experts, put together plans and ACT while the technology is still ripe.