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Best practices for manufacturing forecasting and automation

In this expert response, learn how to best use software for manufacturing forecasting and automation projects.

We're considering switching from Excel spreadsheets to software for our sales forecasting, but we're unsure of what sort of system would work best for us. Which is better for manufacturing forecasting -- an ERP system or a supply chain management system? And are these sorts of automation projects worth the cost and effort for small manufacturers, or are they better for large companies?

I do not believe one can make any general recommendations on which type of software system has better forecasting capabilities. Start with your forecasting needs and then evaluate the modules offered by your existing ERP or supply chain vendors. Also keep in mind that forecasting software is often a candidate for a "best-of-breed" package and is usually fairly easy to interface with other business application systems.

As far as automation projects go, it's worth the cost and effort for any size company as long as the company has the money to spend and there is a good return on investment (ROI). Determining ROI means considering the tangible savings, initial implementation costs and on-going maintenance fees associated with the system.


About the author:
Steven Phillips is an ERP professional with more than 27 years of implementation experience, and the author of the book Control Your ERP Destiny. His background includes senior management education, software selection, project management, application consulting, process redesign, systems design, testing, training and post-go-live support.

Steven has a degree in production and operations management, with advanced studies in industrial management. Previously certified by the American Production and Inventory Control Society, he has written articles appearing in APICS publications. He also runs the popular blog Street Smart ERP.

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