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in Editorial , Inventory Optimization

Nucleus Research Rates IO Solutions

by Frank Norton

Each year, Boston-based Nucleus Research evaluates the top inventory optimization (IO) solutions on a value matrix of usability and advanced functionality. This year, Vanguard Software made larger gains than any other competitor.

Usability

For usability, our Supply Planning module leaped the competition, surpassing all but two of 20 solutions evaluated. Nucleus Research’s usability evaluation factors workflow-design and reporting features that span visualization, dashboards, process tracking, and notifications.

Nucleus predicts that other top IO vendors will have to invest more heavily in usability in the coming years to remain competitive. “Making IO software easier to use will require vendors to provide more in the way of visualization, dashboards and notifications,” Nucleus states in its 2016 Inventory Optimization report. And while leading vendors are responding, many still rely on third-party analytics applications, such as Tableau or QlikView, to visualize critical information, Nucleus notes.

On the contrary, “Vanguard has focused on providing a self-explanatory user interface.” This “browser-based … interface … provides and extensive array of data visualizations that [Vanguard] built in-house.”

Advanced Functionality

Nucleus also recognized Vanguard for considerable strides in advanced functionality. By its analysis, Vanguard leapfrogged several larger competitors in the past year to land at the cusp of the advanced-functionality leadership quadrant. Advanced functionality factors the use of algorithmic technology, machine intelligence, real-time demand sensing, and other advanced analytic capabilities.

In its report, Nucleus noted Vanguard’s extensive set of forecast algorithms, supply planning, and multi-echelon inventory optimization capabilities – the technology backbone of the S&OP process.

“Although most supply chain professionals might not recognize it as such, IO software is really a form of prescriptive analytics,” the report stated.

Balancing Usability & Advanced Functionality

Truth be told, we’ve worked hard over the last year to improve both usability and our delivery of advanced analytics. It’s a tough balancing act: building an environment that users love working in day-in and day-out while ensuring they also get the most accurate forecasts for optimum procurement and inventory policies.

In our view, Nucleus’s research validates our innovative approach to this balance, and to being at the vanguard of forecasting and planning software. An even more important validation is our customer growth, and the growth of their businesses.

“Vanguard brought massive, positive improvements to purchasing, confidence, and stock reduction,” Ewelina Piasecka, Demand Planning Manager for Sensata Technologies, said in a recent conversation. Their system helped us stabilize production. That saved us money, but it also enabled us to grow the business more sustainably. Instead of managing spikes in demand, we achieved much greater stability in production scheduling and fulfillment.”

Commitment to Continual Improvement

To build on success, we this year added our Supply Planning module to Vanguard Forecast Server™, our forecasting and planning application suite. The new module delivers complete Multi-Echelon Inventory Optimization (MEIO) capability to operations and supply-chain teams.

It also pushes Forecast Server even further ahead of the market in balancing advanced-analytic forecasting and planning with expert process engineering and a workflow design. This double-barreled approach works perfectly for non-expert collaborators, enterprise-wide. And that strengthens what was an already formidable S&OP practice.

  • Specifically, our supply planning module includes several new features and capabilities:
  • Optimizes finished goods (FG), work in progress (WIP), and raw materials (RM) inventory using BOM expansions
  • Supports automatic, semi-automatic, and manual inventory schedules
  • Supports optimized procurement and production schedules
  • Performs rough-cut capacity analysis, automatically
  • Interactive inventory monitoring dashboard

And just as IO decisions tie directly to financial performance, our Supply Planning module integrates directly with Vanguard Financial Planning for:

  • Financial impact analysis of IO plans
  • Cash Flow Analysis
  • Integration with company financial projections

Summary

We’ve always believed that advanced analytics are key to solid forecasting, and to helping companies plan and manage any facet of their operations. We’re excited to be recognized by organizations such as Nucleus, especially for making advanced analytics accessible to knowledge workers across the enterprise. We remain committed to delivering technically advanced, easy-to-use forecasting and planning tools.

Vanguard Software Applications

Our collaborative, web-based forecasting applications unite roles, teams and departments in achieving the most accurate forecasts in the world – bar none.