Feedback continues to pour in each week – but we want more and, with this in mind, are pleased to announce our new
“Fuel for Thought” program. If your response is selected as our Feedback of the Week, we’ll send you a $20 gas card. Must have complete name and company, and you can only win once every three months. Send in your Feedback regularly! Make it thoughtful if you would like to win.
More great letters as usual this week.
Our Feedback of the Week is from Angela Curtis, a Supply Chain Analyst who asked that we don’t mention her company, who sent in a very excellent and thoughtful letter on our piece on The Eight Steps of the Forecasting Process, suggesting the addition of a few more steps. Good stuff. William L. Kincaid Jr. of CB Richard Ellis and Danny Halim of JDA Software responded favorably to our piece on National Association of Manufacturers president John Engler’s rebutting the claim by one research firm that China would soon overtake the US in production.
Finally, Brian Etzler of Do-It-Best responds to a number of pieces we have done lately on order picking technologies by saying Voice has worked very well for them.
Feedback of the Week – On the Forecasting Process:
A wise business consultant once told me a third of my project time should be spent planning. Some may argue that planning is an individual process that everyone innately engages in, but from working with small to mid-sized businesses I've learned that planning is usually discarded as an unnecessary expense. So although it is not specific to a forecasting software implementation, these important steps bear repeating for any project of this nature. In that spirit, I recommend adding a step in the beginning and two steps at the end.
At the beginning:
Make the paragraph after item #1 ("These models and hierarchies are often hard to change later...") its own item and even consider breaking this into a few steps.
Obtaining input from -- or even identifying -- key stakeholders is no trivial matter. As stated in the article, it is a mistake to assume that the data in the system contains meaningful or complete information, so give this step its due. A brief data quality assessment (for instance, polling your records to find out what, if anything, is in the fields you intend to use) can reveal nasty data inconsistencies that can kill a project later on.
At the end:
A. Make a plan for System Update and Maintenance. Ask questions such as:
How will the forecasting system be updated going forward? Who will be in charge of ongoing data cleansing or transformation? Could your original data source be generating additional, more useful data? Forecasting is an ongoing process, so there always needs to be a plan for the future.
Document key processes and decisions in case revisions need to be made in the future ... which brings us to ....
B. Determine a means of evaluating the effectiveness of your forecasting tool, track its predictions and re-evaluate as necessary. If there's no means to refine a system or even decide if its working as expected, support can quickly dwindle.
Sharing a unified vision to support company strategy is imperative to success. Cover all your bases by planning and gathering input, maintain and update your system once it is completed and finally, have a plan for evaluating and tweaking the system if it doesn't perform as expected.
Supply Chain Analyst
Park Ridge, IL
On Position of U.S. Manufacturing:
It is nice to see that John Engler is engaged in a significant and important role here for the US. I was born and raised in Michigan and when Mr. Engler served his terms as Governor, he changed the face of the State and its economic performance. I cannot say enough of what he did for business and the economy.
Nevertheless, I agree that the US still has a strong manufacturing capability and with recent gains in exports proves that we can compete in this global economy.Recent transportation cost increases, the weak dollar and the increase in China wages is the right recipe for US manufacturing to prosper.
I believe that NAM should focus in efforts on large high cost transportation commodities such as; furniture, HVAC equipment, Appliances, etc, as these will be the first to move back to the US as Transportation and other factors continue to be the issue.
William L. Kincaid Jr.
CB Richard Ellis
I agree with this article.
I think this probably needs to be broken down by industry. I see Food & Beverage are probably industry segments that cannot be moved to offshore, and given the complex diversification, network complexity, perishability, and channel masters’ demand; the capacity pressures are even higher.
Many of our manufacturing customers have personally expressed this to me in the past few months.
Vice President, Supply & Manufacturing Solutions
JDA Software Group
On Voice Picking:
We just recently finished a voice pick installation at all of our centers. Our high achievers had concern that there productivity would go down with voice because they would not be able to look ahead. Their interest in looking ahead was not so much for pallet building as finding shortcuts for their pick path to minimize their travel. In the end they all saw productivity improvements with Voice.
Sometimes I'm not sure that the Order Filler doesn't out-think him or herself as they try to strategize savings. Voice seems to help the Filler with their organization, simplifying the process and freeing them to focus on just picking and putting.