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.
When setting a target service level, make sure to take into account factors like current service levels, replenishment lead times, cost constraints, the pain inflicted by shortages on you and your customers, and your competitive position.
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.
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.