There is an abundance of information regarding sales forecasting. Plenty of books, articles and blogs have been written and disseminated in seminars, online, and other media. Many different techniques have been advocated through the years, only to be discarded when the next “hot” method comes along, or markets change. However, there isn’t much information available illustrating the best ways to apply modern sales skills to the lean environment.
A key objective of implementing lean into any operation is to find and eliminate waste in processes. This includes the sales forecasting process. It is important to have strong organizational support for the use of formal forecasting methods if these are to be used successfully. Lean Business Planning and Forecasting can be a simple, focused, agile and practical way to align your strategy, assumptions, and essential cash flow.
When it comes to sales forecasting in a lean environment, there are several skills that a good lean forecaster needs. This article from the Lean Enterprise Institute details some of these skills. Furthermore, controlling the process and resources used in the process also enhances lean sales forecasting, according to this white paper from SAS.
Collaborating externally with your supply chain is another cornerstone of sales forecasting in a lean environment. Collaborative planning entails negotiating front-end agreements that define the responsibilities of the partner organizations. It will allow the building of a joint business plan that shows how the organizations will work together to meet demand. Collaborative forecasting and replenishment, encouraged and implemented in a lean environment, will allow the organization partners to generate actual orders on demand and respond to customers’ expectations quickly.
Vice President, Grant Programs