Where sales forecasting and service excellence meet
Contrary to some beliefs, forecasting in general is an imperfect science and sales forecasting is just as challenging. Whilst most forecasting can’t be expected to match results 100%, it is a business process, which advanced businesses just cannot do without.
The request from sales people to customers to assist with planning a sales forecast on certain products is often met with disdain and seen as an irritation. It is often also seen by customers as time consuming, simply because they know how much time it takes to offer an accurate indication of what they may need over the next future operating period.
Another complication is that the collection of this data from a customer more often than not involves interaction with not only their supply chain team, but also their sales and marketing team who themselves are planning their own forecasts.
When we look at the some of the advantages of forecasting with as much accuracy as possible, we see the following:
- It provides the supplying business with valuable information that the business can use to make decisions about the future of the organisation;
- It ensures that correct raw materials are available for production to avoid delays;
- Larger consignments can be bought and stored allowing for lower risk in supply;
- The correct finished product can be kept available to effect shorter lead time deliveries;
- Production planning is managed far more efficiently.
Astrapak believes in delivering quality on time. We therefore are completely committed to OTIF Delivery (On Time In Full) and measure this aspect of our business all the time. It is for this reason that we lean heavily on our customer facing teams to engage customers and determine data driven sales forecasts. Without these forecasts we reduce our performance in OTIF Delivery and stand the risk of not meeting customer’s expectations and demands.
Allowing us to forecast can also contribute to price stability, as the longer and more accurate the forecast window is the more raw material we can procure allowing us to leverage costs and manage and smooth out fluctuations.
Astrapak is always driving at improving its accuracy when it comes to customer service, and sales forecasting provides that essential opportunity for us to measure ourselves against demand and to seek out areas where we can affect continuous improvement. This process of continuous improvement will definitely support accuracy and ultimately our customers will experience the benefits.
At Astrapak, we are convinced that accurate sales forecasting is indeed the pivot point for delivering service excellence to our customers.