Additional Reading

Topics for Additional Reading

Advanced Analytics

Sales Analytics Can Aid Cash Flow Forecasts: Getting paid sooner rather than later is still the surest way to shorten your cash-conversion cycle, writes Mary Collins, president and CEO of the Media Financial Management Association. Collins explains this aspect of cash flow management specifically as it relates to broadcasters and other media companies that make a market in advertising. Read more here.

Predictive Analytics in the Supply Chain: Advanced predictive analytics play two essential roles in supply chain management, writes William Vorhies, a data scientist and predictive modeler. The first is forecast accuracy and the second is optimization. Both are driven by multiple considerations, such as long-range vs. near-term planning, and top-down vs. bottom-up approaches. Read more here.

Predictive Analytics vs Business Intelligence (BI): Business Intelligence (BI) systems are often confused with Predictive (or Advanced) Analytics. While the two systems work best in conjunction, they are nevertheless quite different. Read more here.

Business Intelligence vs Predictive Analytics vs Prescriptive Analytics: Predictive analytics kicks BI up a notch. That’s the analysis of WealthEngine, a marketing and fundraising consultancy. This article from WealthEngine has more on the use of predictive-analytic algorithms to find patterns in data and develop probabilities of specific outcomes. Read more here.

The Four Stages of the Data Maturity Model: Big data and analytics leader Teresa de Onis (Dell) writes that achieving “data maturity” is a four-stage journey where each step brings the organization closer to becoming “data-driven.” de Onis explains with keen insight what this means and why this evolution is critical to big-picture business goals. Read more here.

Businesses Want Advanced Analytics: A new survey-based report shows that information technology leaders want to pursue machine-learning analytics but feel that the quality of their data is not up to snuff. The reason? Most of the senior IT leaders polled reported low confidence in their data quality management practices. Read more here.

Where Predictive Analytics Is Having the Biggest Impact: A team of data experts discusses how companies are beginning to use external data to complement internal history for improved predictions. The benefits of this double-barreled approach are showing up in more-precise demand forecasts, price sensitivity estimates, and predictions of machine failure. But the ultimate potential of big data is still unknown, according to this recent article in Harvard Business Review. Read more here.

Deep Learning Tools: We’re increasingly awash in text, images, and myriad other forms of unstructured data. Question is, how do we as competitive organizations capitalize on it. Ed Burns, a senior news writer at TechTarget, has a few ideas after speaking with advanced analytics experts at the Deep Learning Summit in Boston earlier this month. Read more here.

 A New Big Data Predictive Analytics Solution for Ocean Carriers: What is the difference between forecasting and predictive analytics? It’s big data, according to Forbes contributor Steve Banker. In this latest piece, Banker envisages the ability to more effectively complement internal, historical data with big (or third-party) data for additional regression analyses and improved accuracy. Read more here.

On-Premise to the Cloud: Keeping Up with the Analytical Evolution: Hosted, subscription-based software is no longer just a cost-effective option for small and mid-size companies. It is quite arguably the most effective way to deliver robust, enterprise-class analytic capabilities, especially across multiple and globally distributed environments. Author and business analytics analyst Michael Lock has more. Read more here.


Six key benefits of cloud computing in the healthcare industry: Remote data access, low-cost storage, and virtual collaboration in real time are just a few of the advantages that hospitals and other healthcare providers can gain from cloud computing. But the benefits aren’t just to the bottom lines of providers. The greatest potential is for a transformation in patient outcomes. Technology writer Rick Delgado explains. Read more here.

The Case for Cloud-Based ERP: Debbie Schultz and Michael Johnson of Bridgepoint Consulting lay out the five most obvious benefits of moving ERP to the cloud. And not just ERP, they argue, but other major enterprise applications as well. If you’re still not convinced, Schultz and Johnson offer advice on the risks of not migrating to the cloud. Read more here.

Bridge the Silos: Cloud-based computing is evolving so rapidly that it’s posing new and multidimensional integration challenges to companies looking to share data across across applications, data sources, customers and vendors. Read more here.

Demand Planning

Retail Supply Chain Execs Aim for Better Demand Planning: While most retailers forecast sales through in-store and online channels separately, increasingly more look to adopt an integrated approach. Integrated demand planning takes a bottom-up approach, where demand is aggregated at the store level, as well as by sales channel. Spend Matters explains. Read more here.

Demand Planning For New Life Science Product Launches: Forecasting the adoption and penetration of new products is both difficult and consequential. This is especially true in the high-stakes arena of pharmaceutical and life-science enterprise. But there is a way to better predict outcomes and it’s summed up as the “4Ps.” Leslie Sandberg Orne and Lindsey Acampa of Trinity Partners explain. Read more here.

Social Data for Retail Demand Forecasting: Wile social data are notoriously diverse and unstructured, they can be harnessed to improve retail demand forecasting. Valeryia Shchutskaya of InData Labs discusses ways to complement baseline time-series forecasts with usable market insights extracted from social data – great article. Read more here.

Machine Learning in Demand Forecasting and Pricing: Supply chain and analytics specialist Vishnu Mohan explains in fine detail how supply chain industry leaders leverage data and machine learning to forecast demand and optimize pricing. Read more here.

The Future of Demand Forecasting – Usage by Grocers is Lagging: Experts say grocery retailers still rely too much on manual ordering and intuition in their replenishment process. And smaller operators especially still rely on the previous year’s data in tools such as Excel to plan purchasing and distribution activities. What does the future hold? This article from Progressive Grocer explains. Read more here.

Syncing Demand Plans with Warehouse Management Systems (WMS): Effective fulfillment starts with software tools for demand, supply, and replenishment planning, writes Roberto Michel of Modern Materials Handling. Michel explains in detail how the latest tools not only create forecasts, but help translate their data into meaningful requirements for distribution centers. Read more here.

Three Golden Rules for Demand Forecasting: Demand forecasting is known as an inevitable exercise for any company in business. But it should also be known as a profitable exercise that can yield substantial ROI. Columnist David Fothergill makes this point. In addressing marketing organizations, he offers three “golden rules”to maximize returns from the demand forecasting effort. Read more here.

The Difference Between Demand Planning, Forecasting and S&OP: The S&OP process helps companies see into the future and plan for the the most likely scenarios. As such, the best way to improve S&OP is to improve the accuracy of your key inputs: forecasting and demand planning. Supply chain expert Dr. Karen Pentz explains. Read more here.

Flexible Manufacturing Can Help Pharmaceutical Industry Avoid High Costs: It is well understood that big pharma is outsourcing late-stage drug development and manufacturing at an increasing rate. What is less understood is why. Executives at Patheon, a Durham, N.C.-based provider of pharma manufacturing and supply-chain services, believe they have the answer: accurate forecasting and flexible manufacturing. Here’s the reasoning from a recent survey they commissioned. Read more here.

See into the Future of Demand by Unlocking ERP’s Full Potential: Your returns on investment in that new ERP system may go largely unrealized without a complementary investment in integrated forecasting and planning technology. Read more here.

Financial Planning and Forecasting

Learning from Forecasting’s Past: How Previous Eras Will Shape the Pharma Forecaster of the Future: Drugs representing more than $55 billion in sales will lose their patent exclusivity over the next four years, opening markets to rampant competition from low-cost generics producers. To find their way, pharma companies will make great strides in their ability to model vast arrays of legal, regulatory and marketplace scenarios. Read more here.

Cash Flow Forecasting as a Risk Management Tool: Competent cash-flow forecasting is critical to liquidity risk management, especially for global concerns dealing with foreign exchange volatility. How else to transfer the greatest possible earnings values across currencies? Read more in this article from Treasury & Risk. Read more here.

Budgeting and Forecasting Is Still A Hot Topic For ERP Users: Depending on need, it might make sense to integrate your ERP system with a third-party tool for budgeting and forecasting. These disciplines require specialized sets of capability that ERP systems are not on their own equipped to handle. A formidable third-party system should reduce latency, improve reporting, and perhaps even enable multiple teams to share multiple plans and processes. Business software consultant Philip de Harcourt has more. Read more here.

Financial Forecasting Two Ways: Financial forecasts are used to project revenues, costs, cash flows, asset values and financing needs. They’re critical to understanding and planing for how much money you’ll need, when, and how you’ll get it. Dileep Rao, clinical professor at Florida International University dips into two basic approaches to financial forecasting: top-down and bottom-up. Read more here.

Why Financial Forecasting Matters: Cash flow forecasts, as well as basic revenue and expense projections are essential to ensuring the solvency of your company. This article offers a brief introduction to the business drivers that shape these projections. Read more here.

Budgeting And Forecasting Best Practices For 2016: Marilse Vargas shares 12 best practices for budgeting and forecasting in this energetic and well-written blog post for BMA Group, an international HR consultancy. At the most basic level, says Vargas, the budget should set your organizational goals, while the forecast should define expectations. There’s more too it of course. Vargas explains. Read more here.

Benchmarking to Develop A Financial Forecast: Budgeting and forecasting is essential to long- and short-term financial planning and decision making. But creating a truly useful budget requires at least three years of sales and other historical data. Smart Business Magazine relates the importance of historical data, and a few other financial forecasting necessities, following a conversation with financial expert Michael Stevenson, managing partner at Clarus Partners. Read more here.

Inventory Optimization

How Last-Mile Delivery Success Enables Competitive Differentiation: So-called “last-mile” delivery optimization is becoming a key competitive differentiation for retailers, grocery stores and home shopping companies. More in this article from Supply & Demand Chain Executive. Read more here.

Inventory Optimization Goes Big: Connecting an inventory optimization tool with your ERP system will enable increased use of data and faster, more accurate forecasting, according to Net@Work, a technology consultancy. This enables the system to recommend optimal inventory levels, restocking schedules, unit-level thresholds for automated ordering and replenishment, and more. Read more here.

7 Common IBP/S&OP Failings and How To Avoid Them: Numerous distractions and complications often undermine the potential of an Integrated Business Planning (IBP) / S&OP initiative. Supply chain consultant Steve Allanson lays out seven common missteps that can dampen, or even cripple IBP. Fortunately, he also explains how to avoid such blunders. Read more here.

Taking Stock of Optimization Technology: The latest inventory optimization (IO) platforms feature capabilities that far exceed what an ERP system is designed to handle. Read more here.

Nucleus Research Rates IO Solutions: 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. Read more here.

3 Advantages of Managing Inventory in the Cloud: Advice from an ISCO blogger: look beyond your ERP systems if you want to truly optimize stock levels. Optimizing inventory is a very complex task that ERP systems are not equipped to handle. The best way to go is a cloud-based, inventory-optimization add-on designed to integrate with your ERP system. There are three big advantages. Read more here.

Five Key Segmentation Practices for Inventory Management: Not all inventory are created equal. Variances in product profitability, seasonality, and more require a variety of inventory practices to best serve unique demand patterns. Sharper insight into these unique patterns will ultimately help right-size safety stock and service levels and quicken response to change. Read more here.

6 Best Practices for Inventory Management: Multi-channel and multi-echelon distribution schemes are dizzyingly complex. So, Roberto Michel, contributing editor to Logistics Management, went to the experts. Their advice? Several things (six in fact). But it starts with forecast accuracy and an S&OP process for disseminating that accurate info to ALL responsible parties. Read more here.

Vanguard IBP and Forecasting for Dynamics AX: Making a Great ERP System Better: From the initial install and configuration to system integration and upgrades, ease of use is perhaps the most highly valued quality of any large enterprise software investment. Read more here.


How to Make the S&OP Process More Robust: Debashis Sinha of GlaxoSmithKline lays out the fundamental components of the S&OP process. Sinha describes a collaborative nexus that brings into view sales, operations, marketing and finance data to synthesize integrative forecasts. But what makes this process work? And why do too many S&OP initiatives fail? Read more here.

Supply Chain Success Series: Leveraging the Learnings of Enterprises – Part I: In supply chains, best practices often transfer well across industries. Best practices in inventory management and forecasting serve heavy industry as well as makers of wearable devices. More about these and other adaptable best-practices in this UPS-sponsored article in SupplyChainBrain. Read more here.

Boldly Overhauling a Broken S&OP Process: Bob Valletta helps lead global demand planning at Corning’s life sciences division. In this article, Valletta provides an unusually detailed step-by-step process for developing and executing a successful S&OP overhaul. It’s all based on real-life experience doing just that at Corning Life Sciences. Great case study …Read more here.

Involving Execution Managers with Sales and Operations Planning: Done right, sales and operations planning (S&OP) should function as a linchpin, tying daily operations and performance measurements to strategic goals and planning. Larry Lapide, a forecasting and planning researcher and consultant, provides a detailed explanation in this article of how S&OP guidance can improve strategy execution on a daily basis. Read more here.

Better S&OP by Building Bridges with Sales & Marketing: Successful S&OP requires more input from sales and marketing than is typically sought, writes Krishna Menon, S&OP leader at Sullair-Australia. S&OP is an operations dominated exercise. Yet, it’s sales people who have the clearest vantage of the here-and-now marketplace movements — the stuff that’s not already captured in operation’s historical data. Read more here.

How to Deal With People Involved:  Just like there are multiple names for this process, there are also multiple ways to achieve the alignment mentioned above. Some companies only have one S&OP meeting per month, others need the full cycle of meetings to be able to align. Read more here.

Advanced S&OP: S&OP Innovation Summit Preview: Executives from Caterpillar, Blackberry, Kenmark Group, Jones Lang LaSalle, Anheuser-Busch and more will speak at this year’s summit. Key topics will include advanced S&OP, IBP, technology and several others. Read on for a complete preview with attendance information. Read more here.

6 Tips for Dealing with Resistance to Change: Implementing S&OP is a challenging process, not just from a technical point of view but also from an interpersonal point of view. S&OP introduces substantial changes to many functions and levels throughout the company. As a result, resistance is a very common reaction during an S&OP implementation. Read more here.

Initial Steps to Success: The first key to successful S&OP is getting the right individuals from the right functional areas committed to a shared demand-supply balancing process. The next step is finding and implementing the right supporting technology. S&OP project manager Brewster Smith provides a concise description of the S&OP implementation process. Read more here.

Communication in S&OP: Consensus among demand leaders in sales & marketing and supply leaders in manufacturing, procurement, and logistics is critical to the S&OP process. But its not a matter of horizontal communication across functions. Leaders must also communicate vertically to ensure their part in the execution of shared strategy. Read more here. 

3 Keys to Gaining Consensus: Jenna Seymour, Director of Demand Supply at Dell, explains how to gain the consensus in your demand planning and S&OP process. Speak the language of your Audience, understand your Product, and Execute on your commitments. Do this to not only build trust, but to bring other functional leaders into a shared, enterprise success. Read more here.

The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle: The notion of Integrated Business Planning (IBP) is making its way to the market as a sort of S&OP 2.0, a process of total enterprise integration that puts enterprise goals above those of individual functions. Read more here.

Your S&OP Initiative: A new survey finds the key to the S&OP investment. It’s not executive buy-in. It’s not workforce enthusiasm. It’s the key performance indicator. Too many companies don’t set down the KPIs to measure success. Robert J. Bowman of SupplyChainBrain has more. Read more here.

Thoughts on Niels van Hove’s New Definition for Integrated Business Planning (IBP): Vanguard Software’s own Brian Lewis shares his perspective on the meaning of IBP. Read more here.

A New Definition for Integrated Business Planning: Is IBP the new S&OP? And what exactly is it? A process? system? strategy? ideal? Supply chain consultant Niels van Hove probes these and other questions. Read more here.

Sales Forecasting

Improving Product Forecasting: Recent surveys spotlight new product forecasting as a major challenge, especially in the U.S. Turning the matter on its ear, RetailWire managing editor Tom Ryan has sparked a lively debate (see discussion) around this recent post on how to improve the process. Warning: opinions vary. Read more here.

As Omnichannel Grows, Retailers’ Needs Multiply: Buy in store? Order online for home delivery? Order online for pickup at store? The combination of in-store, online and mobile shopping has retailers scrambling to connect basic processing and fulfillment functions across multiple systems and environments. One company, in partnership with Microsoft Dynamics AX, is pushing a new cloud ERP rig designed to do just that. Read more here.

Metric of the Month: Sales Forecast Errors: Accurate and regularly updated assumptions drive reliable sales forecasts. Likewise, reliable sales forecasts drive successful demand plans. But to make it all work, companies need to make sure that financial planners, as well as sales and operations planners, are an integral part of forecast-assumption management. Read more here.

Hostess – A Supply Chain Transformation Saves an Iconic Brand: Hostess Brands had nearly burned in the oven four years ago, before new investors came in and saved it. Now, the owners of Twinkies and Ho Hos are thriving due to a major supply-chain overhaul that dramatically lowered the company’s cost of doing business. Forbes contributor Steve Banker explains. Read more here.

Three Simple Methods for New Product Sales Forecasting: New product forecasting is difficult to do well but essential to planning, executing and assessing the launch of new products. In a recent paper, Teresa Jurgens-Kowal of new-product consultancy, Global NP Solutions, describes three common models to develop an initial sales forecast for new products. Read more here.

How to Boost Sales Forecast Accuracy: Our focus this week is on the challenges, opportunities, and pitfalls of the sales forecasting process. To help start us off, Dale Chang of Silicon Valley-based Scale Venture Partner’s describes in a recent article the advice he gives to his portfolio companies: when it comes to fixing inaccuracy, the first step is acknowledging that a change in action is needed. Read more here.

Supply Planning

Taking Your Supply Chain to the Cloud: Why manage the supply chain in the cloud? Abir Thakurta, head of global supply chain for Havertys Furniture, has an answer. Read more here.

Dealing with Pharmaceutical Supply-Chain Complexities: Globalization, the opening of new markets, and the widening array of drugs (and active ingredients) are increasing pharmaceutical supply chain complexity. Michael Schmitz, head of planning and logistics for a major contract manufacturer, explains how developers, manufacturers, and layers of supply-chain partners will overcome, given the right info-sharing technology and practices. Read more here.

The Value of Supply Chain Segmentation in Pharma: Alessandro De Luca, head of Global Supply Network Operations at Merck Group, describes three essential steps to supply chain segmentation for pharmaceutical manufacturers. He calls it the ABC of segmentation. Read more here.

Top-down vs. Bottom-up: Whether for budgeting, goal-setting, or forecasting, organizations of all stripes grapple with the predicament of when to apply top-down, bottom-up, or hybrid approaches to business processes. Author and business consultant Mark Kolakowski delivers a concise breakdown – including pros and cons – in this article from Investopedia. Read more here.

Target Hires New Online Fulfillment Exec.: Target Corp. hired a new operations executive to head online order fulfillment, a new position created as the company gets underway on a major supply-chain overhaul announced earlier this year. Read more here.

Advancing Information Transformation in the Manufacturing Industry: Manufacturers must improve on their ability to extract usable insights from big data, writes Kimberly Knickle, research vice president for IDC Manufacturing Insights. They must also learn to embed data-capture technology into every facet of the supply chain (and beyond): from manufacturing to distribution to end-user feedback. Read more here.

System Integration Round-Table: Navigating an Uncertain Landscape: Small business and multinationals in supply-chain and logistics sectors are migrating from customized, one-off software to suites of integrated, modular, and scalable applications. As the migration continues, so will robust expenditures in systems integration technology. Modern Materials Handling magazine has much more on this from a panel discussion this month with four industry experts. Read more here.

The ROI of Forecast Driven Supply Planning: Returns on investment (ROI) from forecasting and planning systems range widely, based on innumerable, case-by-case variables. But of all the possible IT investments, it is safe to say that increased forecast accuracy (the benchmark of forecasting & planning) is the single biggest and surest driver of direct savings, revenue, and total return on investment. Read more here.

A Sustainable Supply Chain is Key: Apple has earned a clean bill of health for supply chain vigilance and sustainability, says Environmental Leader, a trade publication on energy management practices. In a recent article, the publication cited Apple’s latest audit, which reports sizable reductions across its supply chain in production-related waste and fresh water usage. Read more here.

Get On Board With Sustainability: Demand for so called “fast fashion” is why Forever 21 stocks 539 new products each week — Americans now buy an average of 64 clothing items per year. But it all comes at a cost, often to the environment, but also to workers. This has sparked a reckoning among many consumers, and more recently a response from fashion upstarts catering to new demand for transparency and sustainability in apparel sourcing. Read more here.

Sustainability Goals in the Supply Chain: Our most recent post linked to an article highlighting five reasons why supply-chain sustainability is a hotspot of investment, hiring, and career advancement. Today we’ll turn our attention to how companies can embrace sustainability. Supply Chain Management Review offers four best practices that procurement pros should consider when incorporating sustainability goals into management objectives. Read more here.

5 Reasons Supply Chains are the New Sustainability Hotspot: The coalescence of international laws and standards for sustainable sourcing has spurred producers to action. Many are investing in people and technologies to vet procurement practices and upstream activity. James Allan of Verisk Maplecroft, a supply chain advisory, offers five reasons why procurement is hot, and getting hotter. Read more here.

MIT Offers Online MicroMaster’s Credential in Supply Chain Design: MIT is promoting an online MicroMaster’s program that teaches supply chain design to working professionals. Students who complete a semester’s worth of courses online can earn a MicroMaster’s credential, then complete their master’s degree with a single semester on campus or at another university. Read more here.

How A Mobile Enhanced Supply Chain Can Boost ROI: A solid mobile strategy is now a must for successful supply chain management. And it’s not just for huge companies. Some of the most rapid changes are happening at small and medium companies, where the convergence of devices, broadband access and cloud-based enterprise applications are closing old doors and opening new ones. Read more here.

Top Supply Chain and Logistics: News, analysis, interviews and explanatory journalism on logistics, supply-chain management, e-commerce and more. Read more here.

Betting Big on Data in the Supply Chain: Connected devices and real-time shipment tracking technologies are here. What’s next is the ability to harvest vast fields of data from these technologies in ways that bring real-time visibility into supply-chain strategy. Those who do this well will win, says ModusLink CEO John Boucher. Read more here.

Software Configurability Underpins Global Supply Chain Performance: Software configurability is key, at least when it comes to global supply-chain performance. While out-of-the-box glory would be a dream, it is much more essential that your enterprise software conform to unique supply chain processes and can quickly change tack when business conditions, or your software environments, change. Consultant Ty Bordner explains why. Read more here.

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About Vanguard Software

Vanguard Software introduced its first product for decision support analysis in 1995. Today, companies across every major industry and more than 60 countries rely on the Vanguard Predictive Planning platform. Vanguard Software is based in Cary, North Carolina.

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A responsive supply chain is critical for achieving supply chain planning success in times of both major and minor disruption. For supply chains, responsiveness means being able to have the agility to plan, monitor, and respond instantly when unexpected events occur.

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