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Sales Forecasting Service - Outsourced Demand Forecasting
At Forecast Solutions we can provide a remote demand forecasting service for any size of project ranging from a forecast for a single product to the creation and operation of a major forecasting support system for many thousands of products or listings. It may be just an ad hoc analysis carried out in order to give guidance or a second opinion, or a detailed ongoing sales forecasting service to replace, on a temporary or permanent basis, the company's own specialist software and human resources
Ad Hoc Forecasting Services
For the creation of a one-off demand forecast for a small number of product lines we will receive the historical sales data on an Excel file, then carry out expert analysis to construct the sales forecast.
The historical data is tested for the presence of a seasonal pattern and, if the seasonality is statistically valid, a set of seasonal indices is calculated for use in forecasting. If the sales history is weekly, as opposed to monthly, it may be beneficial to smooth the indices to reduce the jagged characteristic that weekly indices often display due to the greater volatility at that level of detail.
The parameters will be optimised for a number of alternative forecasting models and the best performing model selected based on simulated historical forecast accuracy. A unique feature in this process is that the parameters can be optimised based on forecast accuracy over the supply lead-time for the product in question.
A sales forecast is supplied. Optionally we can provide an Excel spreadsheet for routine updates to the forecast as new historical data becomes available, in effect a mini forecasting system.
Outsourced Forecasting Service: Small to Medium
For an outsourced service for small to medium size projects a forecasting database will be built remotely using Excel or selected specialist software and exchange of data will be by file transfer.
Moderately complex product and customer hierachies can be accommodated and forecasting will be carried out at one or two levels of detail. Historical sales data will be supplied in the first instance and on an ongoing basis using Excel or csv files. Commercial judgement overrides to the forecast for promotions and other exceptions can also be made by file transfer.
Extensive analysis will be carried out to set up the forecasting system in the most advantageous way. It is often beneficial to generate seasonal patterns at an aggregated level and deploy them at the detailed level, so this possibility will be explored. A range of forecasting models will be deployed and the most successful selected on the basis of simulated forecast accuracy over the sales history.
A set of forecasts are produced at the outset and at regular intervals thereafter, usually but not necessarily on a monthly or weekly basis. There is a regular review of the system configuration to ensure best possible forecast accuracy over time.
Forecasting Services for Major Projects
For large or complex projects we will team up with a leading supplier of planning and forecasting software. The forecasting support system will be jointly built by Forecast Solutions and an agreed software developer. It will be remotely hosted and operated on an ongoing basis by Forecast Solutions, with full backup support if needed by the software company.
Forecast Solutions will ensure the software is set up and used in such a way as to produce the most accurate possible sales forecasts. Additional analysis will be carried out outside of the software as necessary to improve forecast accuracy performance.
It should be possible to provide multi-user access to the hosted system for the purpose of intervention with forecast overrides regarding promotions and other exceptions. It may be possible to automate data transfer operations for the receipt of sales history and distribution of forecasts.
Incorporating causal factors in the forecasting process
As well as using time series forecasting methods such as exponential smoothing in the most effective way, Forecast Solutions is also skilled in demand analysis and econometric modelling using regression analysis to quantify the effect on sales or market share of drive factors such as pricing, economic indicators or unseasonal weather. It may be possible to incorporate the results of a causal analysis into the forecasting process.