Business Policy Blog
Pursuing Best practices in demand planning, forecasting and inventory optimization
You know the situation: You work out the best way to manage each inventory item by computing the proper reorder points and replenishment targets, then average demand increases or decreases, or demand volatility changes, or suppliers’ lead times change, or your own costs change.
To make the right decision, you’ll need to know how demand forecasting supports inventory management, choice of which policy to use, and calculation of the inputs that drive these policies.The process of ordering replenishment stock is sufficiently expensive and cumbersome that you also want to minimize the number of purchase orders you must generate.
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 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.
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.
Consider what is meant by “demand management”, “demand planning”, and “forecasting”. These terms imply certain standard functionality for collaboration, statistical analysis, and reporting to support a professional demand planning process. However, in most ERP systems, “demand management” running MRP and reconciling demand and supply for the purpose of placing orders
What is my inventory position today, on any item? Where are we stocking out and how often? What are my delivery times? Why did we ship late? Do we have too much inventory in one location, not enough in another? What are my real supplier lead times? These are obvious, daily questions, and the answers can reveal underlying root causes that when resolved will improve supply chain performance. But these answers are elusive, often because data is locked up in your ERP and only accessible via limited reporting views or spreadsheets. Creating these reports manually using Excel requires data imports, reformatting, and distribution to key stakeholders, wasting countless hours of valuable planning time. This means that getting updated information, when you need it, is not always possible. Not having access to these answers means that problems reveal themselves only after it is too late, and opportunities for improving the inventory planning process are overlooked, further contributing to poor performance.
Smart Operational Analytics (SOA™) is a native web reporting solution available on Smart’s Inventory Planning and Optimization Platform, Smart IP&O. It provides a fast, easily understood, current perspective on the state of your inventory, its performance against critical metrics, actual supplier lead times, opportunities to rebalance stocks across facilities, and helps you uncover root causes of operational inefficiencies. SOA automatically refreshes as often as you’d like providing all stakeholders immediate, up-to-date reporting on your operations and performance. You’ll have constant visibility of inventory levels, orders, shipments, and supplier performance to ensure you’ll always be in tune with the state of your operations and resolve issues before they become problems. Enhance visibility. Improve responsiveness. Increase your bottom line.
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Smart Operational Analytics
Quantify inventory value
Trend metrics over time
Measure service level performance
Measure fill rate performance
Calculate turns, holding & ordering costs
Trend metrics over time
Measure supplier performance
Compare supplier lead times
Rank suppliers across available metrics
Trend metrics over time
Who is Operational Analytics for?
Smart Operational Analytics is for executives, planners, and operations professionals who seek to:
- Measure inventory costs and performance in real time.
- Assess and compare Supplier performance.
- Identify root causes of stockouts, excess inventory, and late deliveries.
- share KPI’s such as service levels, turns, costs, and more across the organization.
What questions can Operational Analytics answer?
- What does my inventory look like? By value, count, classification?
- Is my inventory trending up, down, or the same?
- How much of my inventory is overstocked, understocked, or acceptable?
- Can inventory be transferred from overstocked locations to under stocked locations?
- Can existing supplier orders be cancelled or deferred?
- What are my current turns, service levels, and fill rates and how do they trend over time?
- How many out of stock events occurred this week, this month, this quarter?
- How are my suppliers performing, how do they compare?
- What is my supplier lead time and how has it changed over time?
Inventory and supplier reporting for your enterprise
Smart Operational Analytics empowers you to:
- Benchmark service performance and inventory costs.
- Benchmark supplier performance.
- Assess and Classify Inventory by class, stage, and more.
- Share metrics with the organization.