The Smart Forecaster

Pursuing best practices in demand planning, forecasting and inventory optimization

Don’t Become a Victim of Your Forecast Models

Don’t Become a Victim of Your Forecast Models

Generally, the supply chain field has lagged behind finance in terms of the use of statistical models. My university colleagues and I are chipping away at that, but we have a long way to go. Some supply chains are quite technically sophisticated, but many, perhaps more, are essentially managed as much by gut instinct as by the numbers. Is this avoidance of analytics safer than relying on models?

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Reveal Your Real Inventory Planning and Forecasting Policy by Answering These 9 Questions

Reveal Your Real Inventory Planning and Forecasting Policy by Answering These 9 Questions

In this blog, we review 9 specific questions you can ask to uncover what’s really happening with the inventory planning and demand forecasting policy at your company. We detail the typical answers provided when a forecasting/inventory planning policy doesn’t really exist, explain how to interpret these answers, and offer some clear advice on what to do about it.

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How to Tell You Don’t Really Have an Inventory Planning and Forecasting Policy

How to Tell You Don’t Really Have an Inventory Planning and Forecasting Policy

You can’t properly manage your inventory levels, let alone optimize them, if you don’t have a handle on exactly how demand forecasts and stocking parameters (such as Min/Max, safety stocks, and reorder points, and order quantities) are determined. Many organizations cannot specify how policy inputs are calculated or identify situations calling for management overrides to the policy. If you have these problems, you may be wasting hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars each year in unnecessary shortage costs, holding costs, and ordering costs.

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The 3 levels of forecasting: Point forecasts, Interval forecasts, Probability forecasts

The 3 levels of forecasting: Point forecasts, Interval forecasts, Probability forecasts

There are three possible types of forecasts that can be used in demand and inventory planning processes. Point forecasting, interval forecasting, and probabilistic forecasting. Each type of forecast offers progressively more information to inventory managers that will enhance the planning process. In this video blog, Dr. Thomas Willemain explains the differences and highlights the advantages that probabilistic forecasting offers. In summary, knowing more is always better than knowing less and the probability forecast provides additional information that is crucial for inventory planning.

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Undershoot is Sabotaging your Service Level!

Undershoot is Sabotaging your Service Level!

Undershoot means that the lead time begins not at the reorder point but below it. Undershoot happens every time the demand that breached the reorder point took the stock down below (not down to) the reorder point. Undershoot picks your pocket before you even begin to roll the dice. It deludes the inventory professional into thinking his or her reorder points are sufficient to achieve their targets, whereas actual performance will not make the grade.

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The Real Culprits of Stockouts and Excess

The Real Culprits of Stockouts and Excess

Service level and fill rate are two important metrics for measuring how effectively customer demand is satisfied. These terms are often confused and understanding the differences can help improve your inventory planning process. This video blog (Vlog) helps illustrate the difference with a simple example using Excel

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Service Level vs Fill Rate

Service Level vs Fill Rate

Service level and fill rate are two important metrics for measuring how effectively customer demand is satisfied. These terms are often confused and understanding the differences can help improve your inventory planning process. This video blog (Vlog) helps illustrate the difference with a simple example using Excel

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MAX-MIN OR ROP – ROQ

MAX-MIN OR ROP – ROQ

This guest blog details the differences between Min-Max and Reorder Point- Order Quantity replenishment logic and why it is important. It is authored by Phillip Slater, Founder of SparePartsKNowHow.com the leading educational resource for spare parts management. Mr. Slater is a global leader and consultant on materials management and specifically, engineering spare parts inventory management and optimization.

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The Right Forecast Accuracy Metric for Inventory Planning

The Right Forecast Accuracy Metric for Inventory Planning

Traditional forecasting accuracy metrics aren’t applicable when the goal is to optimize inventory. It’s “service level accuracy” that matters because just setting a service target doesn’t mean you’ll actually achieve it. Poor accuracy here has extremely costly implications. The right way to measure accuracy for inventory planning is to focus on the accuracy of the service level projection. This blog explains why and details how to calculate the metric.

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Infrequent Updates to Inventory Planning Parameters Costs Time, Money, and Hurts Service

Infrequent Updates to Inventory Planning Parameters Costs Time, Money, and Hurts Service

Inventory planning parameters such as safety stock levels, reorder points, Min/Max settings, lead times, order quantities, and DDMRP buffers directly impact inventory spending and ability to meet customer demand. Ensuring that these inputs are optimized regularly will dramatically improve customer service levels and will reduce the amount of unnecessary inventory spending.

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5 Demand Planning Tips for Calculating Forecast Uncertainty

5 Demand Planning Tips for Calculating Forecast Uncertainty

Those who produce forecasts owe it to those who consume forecasts, and to themselves, to be aware of the uncertainty in their forecasts. This note is about how to estimate forecast uncertainty and use the estimates in your demand planning process. We focus on forecasts made in support of demand planning as well as forecasts inherent in optimizing inventory policies involving reorder points, safety stocks, and min/max levels.

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Excess Inventory Hurts Customer Service!

Excess Inventory Hurts Customer Service!

Many companies adopt a “customer first, better to have the inventory and not need it” approach to inventory planning. While well intentioned, this approach often ignores the role that diminishing returns and opportunity costs play in inventory management impacting the organizations ability to quickly respond to demand.

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