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The Finished Goods Series
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How to decide on a forecasting system when you don't know much about them

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance!   Making a decision to purchase unfamiliar advanced technology is always stressful.  Every company wants to spend its money wisely, but how do you do that when you are buying something you know little about?  The key is perhaps to be found in the old maxim at right.  There are two solutions to the problem:  First, you could…

1. Hire an expert

We'll be happy to point you to one of our own consultants—who (we can modestly say) know more about forecasting and inventory planning than almost anyone else on earth—but we must warn you: their expertise led them to pick FGS!  Our consultants can evaluate other systems, if that's what you want. Great idea, but which expert?  Good question!  To decide that, you need to know enough about forecasting and inventory planning to evaluate the expertise of the available consultants.  Then you'll need to spend time getting your chosen consultant up-to-speed on your company's needs, concerns, and objectives (things you already know).  And remember, very few consultants are intimately familiar with more than one or perhaps two software packages.  No, what you need to do is to…

2. Become your own expert

Forecasting and inventory planning are a science, not an art.  The problems and solutions are known.  Yes, there are quantitative concepts to think about, but any manager with the skills to survive in business today has the ability to learn enough about this science to make a wise decision. 

What you need to become your own expert is information.  What sort of information?  Well, some of the same information you'll need to possess anyway if you are going to implement a forecasting and inventory planning system successfully. 

So, becoming your own expert is really just a matter of timing.  You need the information eventually anyway to run such a system successfully, so why not get started now?  The knowledge you gain is necessary no matter whose software you select, so the time spent is certainly not wasted.

It starts with education

We can help.  E/Step Software has been in the education business since 1983.  To start, read the articles on this web site.  We would also be glad to send you reprints of other articles.  These articles talk about the concepts of forecasting and inventory planning, often from the point of view of a company like yours, but one which has already been through the implementation process.  In addition, ask us for our FGS Tutorial on CD-ROM.  This tutorial takes you step by step through the principal concepts of demand forecasting, service levels, safety stock, working stock, and replenishment planning. 

The next step is to call us to discuss your needs in detail.  Tell us what makes your company different.  We'll discuss what particular FGS facilities would be especially useful to you.  When we have a good idea of your needs, we'll have you talk with some of our clients.  They've been through the process already and can tell you what they think of our software and service.  In some cases, they can also save you time by telling you what not to do.

Analyze your data

Still can't decide?  Engage us to perform an analysis on a sample of your data.  The results of the study not only show you what the forecasts look like, they also tell you both how much you could reduce your inventory while keeping your current service levels, and how much you can raise your service while maintaining your current inventory level.  One company told us our study of their data not only showed them where the opportunities lay; it also gave them a blueprint for solving their forecasting, inventory, and service problems! 

Executive seminar

Still not convinced?  Hire us to teach an on-site seminar in forecasting and inventory planning concepts to your top management.  If we also analyzed your data, we can use the results in this workshop.  You will then not only know how to select a system, but also have a good idea how to manage it and a reasonable estimate of what the benefits will be.

Trial Implementation

Still not ready to run FGS yourself?   Use our Management Services to run FGS for you (either temporarily or permanently).  Doing a trial implementation is just like a real one, except that we run FGS for you, and you don't have to license the software or train any users.  Once you have achieved the initial inventory savings and service improvements, you can then attend the FGS workshops and take the software in-house with confidence.  And when you do, you will already be implemented