Forecasting in Supply Chain


The forecast of demand forms the basis for all strategies and planning decisions in a supply chain. Consider the pull/push view of the supply chain. Throughout the supply chain, all push processes are performed in anticipation of customer demand whereas all pull processes are performed in response to customer demand. For push processes, a manager must plan the level of production. For pull processes, a manager must plan the level of available capacity and inventory. In both instances, the first step a manager must take is to forecast and what customer demand will be.

Mature products with stable demand are usually easiest to forecast. Staple products at a super market, such as milk or paper towels, fit this description. Forecasting and the accompanying managerial decisions are extremely difficult when either the supply of raw materials or the demand for the finished product is highly variable. Good forecasting is very important because the time window for sale is narrow and if a firm has over- or under-produced, it has little chance to recover. For a product with long life cycle, in contrast, the impact of a forecasting error is less significant.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness


It is said that the difference between efficiency and effectiveness is the difference between’ doing things right’ and ‘doing right things.’ It should encompass both efficiency and effectiveness. That is ‘doing right things right.’

Imagine that you visit your friend. As you are chatting, your friend asks his wife to bring coffee. A little later a tray with milk, sugar, coffee powder and cup is placed before you to prepare coffee of your taste, light or strong, with or without sugar, etc. and you prepare coffee and drink it.

On some other occasion, you visit another friend. As you are chatting, your friend’s wife brings coffee in a cup (before being asked by your friend). Coffee is already prepared. As you take the first sip, she enquires if the sugar is enough. As you say, ‘its ok’ and drink coffee, she stands there. After you finish, she takes the cup and goes off.

In these two cases of serving coffee, it could be seen, that the purpose was served. In the first case it was done in a ‘5-star’ style. No one can find fault with it. But in the second case, there is an additional component attached to it, namely the personal touch. This definitely had its role in creating an ‘impact.’

The first can be said to be an efficient way of serving coffee and the second an effective way. Efficiency is all about how the ‘producer’ has felt and effectiveness is all about how the ‘user’ has felt.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Product Life Cycle


Customer demands are constantly changing. There are many reasons for this, ranging from fashions to new regulations. Sometimes there are obvious patterns to demand. Another pattern comes from the product’s life cycle. Demand for just about every product follows a life cycle with five stages:

  1. Introduction. A new product appears and demand is low while people learn about it, try it and see if they like it—for example, palmtop computers and automated checkouts at supermarkets.
  2. Growth. New customers buy the product and demand rises quickly—for example, telephone banking and mobile phones.
  3. Maturity. Demand stabilizes when most people know about the product and are buying it in steady numbers—for example, color television sets and insurance.
  4. Decline. Sales fall as customers start buying new, alternative products—for example, tobacco and milk deliveries.
  5. Withdrawal. Demand declines to the point where it is no longer worth making the product—for example, black and white television sets and telegrams.

The length of the life cycle varies quite widely. Each edition of The Guardian completes its life cycle in a few hours; clothing fashions last months or even weeks; the life cycle of washing machines is several years; some basic commodities like Nescafe has stayed in the mature stage for decades.

Unfortunately, there are no reliable guidelines for the length of a cycle. Some products have an unexpectedly short life and disappear very quickly. Some products, like full cream milk stayed at the mature stage for years and then started to decline. Even similar products can have different life cycles – with Ford replacing small car models after 12 years and Honda replacing them after seven years. Some products appear to decline and then grow again—such as passenger train services which grew by 7 per cent in 1998 and cinemas where attendances fell from 1.64 billion in 1964 to 54 million in 1984, and then rose to 140 million in 1997.

One thing we can say is that product life cycles are generally getting shorter. Alvin Toffler says, ‘Fast-shifting preferences, flowing out of and interacting with high-speed technological change, not only lead to frequent changes in the popularity of products and brands, but also shorten the life-cycle of products.’

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.