Even though two-thirds of companies in the consumer goods supply chain consider demand volatility and forecast accuracy a high businesses priority, half still rely on Excel spreadsheets for forecasting, according to the Consumer Goods Supply Chain Forecasting Survey by ToolsGroup and trade association the Global Market Development Center (GMDC).
The survey responses were gathered from a sample of GMDC members during May 2012.
There was also clear survey evidence of a corporate focus on achieving high service levels and fill rates. A full 58 percent of respondents identified these Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as high priority.
Eighty-one percent of respondents say they now achieve 95-99 percent service levels based on fill rates or in-stock at the shelf and 5 percent are topping 99 percent levels.
The survey identified a distinct difference between companies’ priorities and the relatively simple systems they are still deploying.
For instance, while 74 percent of respondents would find it helpful to develop a bottom-up forecast (SKU-Location) by key customer and leverage point-of-sale (POS) data, more than half don’t have a forecast system in place to plan collaboratively with their partners, beyond home-grown Excel-based solutions.
The survey also confirmed the importance of trade promotions to supply chain planning. Forty-one percent of the survey respondents reported that at least one-third of their volume is driven through advertising and trade promotions, which directly impact baseline forecasts.
“Most consumer goods companies’ supply chain needs are too challenging today for them to be able to see and forecast supply chain activity using only Excel,” commented Pat Smith, General Manager – North America, ToolsGroup.
“Spreadsheets are simply not powerful enough to be able to analyze data and achieve today’s more aggressive supply chain planning goals.”
“With so many economic variables outside people’s direct control, the best news from the survey is that there are specific actions that companies in the consumer goods supply chain can take today, like modernizing their forecasting tools, to improve their ability to raise profitability and service levels,” says Mark Deuschle, Chief Marketing Officer at GMDC.