The Smart Forecaster
Pursuing best practices in demand planning, forecasting and inventory optimization
Do you know which items have too much or too little inventory? What if you knew? How would you go about cutting overstocks while still ensuring a competitive service level? Would you be able to reduce stockouts without incurring a prohibitively expensive inventory increase? How would these changes impact service levels, costs and turns—for individual items, groups of items and overall?
Most companies know they have too much or too little inventory but lack a key ingredient for optimizing inventory: Service Level-Driven Demand Planning. To take action, you must know how much inventory is needed to satisfy the service level you require. More fundamentally, you need to know the specific service level that will result from your current inventory policies, the gap to be addressed and its financial implications.
Many organizations, especially those with intermittent demand, find this to be an exceptionally challenging trial and error process.
Moving to a service level-driven approach will overcome this challenge and ensure that rebalancing inventory improves service level performance at a lower cost. Start with the most accurate demand forecast possible, calibrate for forecast risk and then determine your optimal inventory position. In a recent webinar, I demonstrated Service Level-Driven Demand Planning and how SmartForecasts can be used to drive this process:
1. Measure the service levels that will be achieved at current inventory levels and with your current inventory policy.
2. Identify items that will achieve high service levels (98%+) but at prohibitively high cost.
3. Identify items that are at high risk of stockout (service levels < 75%).
4. Run multiple what-if scenarios based on a different prioritization of service levels by item or item groups. Choose the scenario that optimizes financial constraints with service objectives.
5. Quantify cash savings from reducing overstocks and the costs to increase inventory when service levels are unacceptably low.
6. Take action to establish new service level-driven reorder points, order quantities and inventory levels to meet your service targets and budget.
To view the webinar replay, please click here and complete the registration request.
Gregory Hartunian serves as President of Smart Software and as a member of the Board of Directors. A graduate of The F.W. Olin School for Business at Babson College, he formerly served as Vice President, Sales and Operations.
Once a customer is ready to implement software for demand planning and/or inventory optimization, they need to connect the analytics software to their corporate data stream.This provides information on item demand and supplier lead times, among other things. We extract the rest of the data from the ERP system itself, which provides metadata such as each item’s location, unit cost, and product group.
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.