The Smart Forecaster
Pursuing best practices in demand planning, forecasting and inventory optimization
Are you a hero?
The executive suites at most companies are populated by leaders who became corporate “heroes.” These exceptional performers led—and continue to lead—transformative initiatives that drive revenue growth, reduce costs and increase shareholder value.
Heroic accomplishments require a bold new approach, often fueled by a ground-breaking product or service. Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen speaks of “disruptive innovation,” the extreme case of a product or practice that creates a fundamentally new market or business approach. (The Harvard Business Review YouTube channel features an interview with Prof. Christensen on the subject here.) The trick is to recognize the possibility, and have the courage to do something about it.
This presents challenges on both sides of the fence. The “best in class” technology provider will have a hard time being heard—getting past entrenched vendors and established practices. The heroic practitioner has to want to hear what’s possible, be open to change and have the drive to execute. Building a community of believers and getting that shot to make a difference can be difficult, but that’s why this work is heroic.
You may be a budding hero, or an executive who can spot opportunities and “hero-making” opportunities in your team. I have encountered many of you over the years, and your successes have been our successes. My advice is simple: go for it. Life is short, possibilities are limitless and your courage will be rewarded.
Nelson Hartunian, PhD, co-founded Smart Software, formerly served as President, and currently oversees it as Chairman of the Board. He has, at various times, headed software development, sales and customer service.
In this blog, we review 10 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.
In the supply chain planning world, the most fundamental decision is how to balance item availability against the cost of maintaining that availability (service levels and fill rates). At one extreme, you can grossly overstock and never run out until you go broke and have to close up shop from sinking all your cash into inventory that doesn’t sell. At the other extreme, you can grossly understock and save a bundle on inventory holding costs but go broke and have to close up shop because all your customers took their business elsewhere.
An inventory professional who is responsible for 10,000 items has 10,000 things to stress over every day. Double that for someone responsible for 20,000 items. In the crush of business, routine decisions often take second place to fire-fighting: dealing with supplier hiccups, straightening out paperwork mistakes, recovering from that collision between a truck and the loading dock.