Forecast Solutions

 Forecasting Software - Demand Planning Software

In our opinion there is no one 'best practice' for forecasting that is suitable for all businesses.   For example, the needs of a FMCG company that sells into multiple grocers and foodservice are very different to those of an engineering company that sells thousands of products into a highly fragmented customer base.

Also, there is no single software product that will meet the needs of every company.  At Forecast Solutions we have a recommended software solution that is very flexible and will meet many requirements, but if that proves not to be appropriate we can help in a broader software selection process.  We can create simple solutions using Excel or can help develop and improve an existing Excel system. 

Recommended Forecasting Software

The software we recommend is from a UK developer.  It is configured to best meet the company's particular needs and can be implemented to integrate with existing IT systems.  It is highly versatile, providing flexible reporting across hierarchies of products and customers and can be used for budgeting as well as forecasting:

Easy to use

The software is suitable for all types of user, having a similar look and feel similar to Excel.  It is particularly easy to use for non-technical staff including members of the sales team.

Flexible reporting system

There is very flexible reporting with the ability to cut and slice across different levels of product and customer.  New reports can easily be defined and all reports support work on the forecast.

Powerful statistical forecasting  

Statistical methods include the extensive range of forecasting techniques contained in the world-renowned R statistics package.  Exponential smoothing and arima methods are available, together with specialist options such as TBATS.

Supports various processes

Whether or not the forecasting process includes statistical forecasting, manual overrides can easily be made to the forecast at any level of detail from a combined graph / report view.  Forecasts are not routinely overwritten when the sales history is updated.

Promotional activity

Dealing with promotions is of paramount importance in many consumer goods businesses.  Frequent and variable promotional activity can be accommodated in the software, with historical data cleansing carried out automatically or through manual overrides.  There is an optional promotions management system.

True multi user access

The system gives true concurrent multi-user access with full security based on products and customers.  Access to a particular measure, such as the statistical forecast, can be limited to particular users if needed.

Integrates with other systems

The software can integrate with SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, NetSuite etc. through SQL feeds or delimited text files.  Scheduled data feeds are installed from / to other company systems.

What-if scenarios

Multiple units of measurement can be incorporated including a full range of financial measures to support budgeting and sales planning, including multiple currencies if required. Any number of forecast or budget versions can be developed and maintained.

For a discussion about forecasting software or a demonstration, please email us, call 01844 291942 or submit a form here

illustration of statistical forecasting

Forecasting using Excel

The advantage of forecasting in Excel is that there is total flexibility in designing a system to meet the precise needs of the business, including the ability to combine the results of a causal analysis with time series projection. 

Forecast Solutions can work to improve an existing process based on Excel or we can develop a completely new solution.  A solution in standard Excel may be sufficient, but we can partner with VBA specialists to provide a more user-friendly interface if such is needed.

The potential drawback of Excel is that high numbers of products / customers and increased complexity can make forecasting systems in Excel time-consuming to create in the first place and troublesome to maintain. 

Factors that may tilt the balance in favour of specialist demand forecasting software rather than Excel include large numbers of items to forecast, a need for multi-level forecasting, flexible reporting across product and customer hierachies and multiple units of measurements.

So there is a point at which increased complexity and the need for a more sophisticated approach triggers the need for specialist forecasting software. 

For a discussion about forecasting software or a demonstration, please email us, call 01844 291942 or complete the form through this link.