This 39th issue of Foresight features a special section on forecasting support systems (FSS) developed by our FSS Editor Fotios Petropoulos. His article Forecasting Support Systems: Ways Forward highlights three main areas for improvement: better utilization of open-source software and Web-based features, adoption of important methods not currently in the FSS arsenal, and much greater support for interaction between statistical output and managerial judgment. His “ways forward” make me think that if you’re satisfied with the capabilities of your current FSS, you don’t know what you’re missing.
That said, not all of Fotios’ vision finds support from the authors of the six commentaries following his article. A majority of these “critics” are developers and experts on systems for forecasting and planning. While they do endorse much of what Fotios recommends and expand his list with their own, they express particular reservations about the role of open-source software as well as anxiety over the challenges organizations will face in implementing an upgraded FSS. As one commentator expressed it:
In the hands of an uneducated user, a more powerful FSS may simply provide the tools to be wrong faster and on a larger scale. The key aspect in the future of FSS is user education.
The success of collaboration in forecasting and planning nearly always faces “inside threats” from employee and executive (mis)behaviors. In Collaborative Culture: The New Workplace Reality—the first of two articles in our Collaborative Forecasting and Planning section—Neill Wallace and John Mello examine the need to sustain effective internal collaboration, and urge management to be aware of practices that work against this goal:
The challenge for leaders will be to let go of conventional practices and instead embrace an approach that places trust in teams.
Their joint authorship itself is a victory for collaboration: Neill is a business executive and writer on workplace trends, and John is an academic and Foresight’s S&OP Editor. In the second article in this section, Jack Harwell presents An Executive Guide to Hiring Successful Demand Planners. Management, according to Jack, has to engage in broader thinking about this role and its growing importance:
Demand planning has evolved into more than a numbers game. Today’s demand planner is often the leader of the S&OP process and must guide an organization through collaboration and conflict resolution.
Contributors Wallace and Harwell then stick around a bit longer to be the subjects in this issue’s double dose of our Forecaster in the Field feature. The Fall issue concludes with a review of the newly revised edition of the well-known pharmaceutical forecasting book by Arthur G. Cook, Forecasting for the Pharmaceutical Industry: Models for New Product and In-Market Forecasting and How to Use Them. Our reviewer is Christian Schäfer, former strategist for Boehringer Ingelheim and author of an earlier Foresight article on pharma forecasting, “How to Separate Risk from Uncertainty in Strategic Forecasting,” which appeared in our Winter 2013 issue.