Forecasting Support Systems (FSS) – essentially, decision support systems for forecasters – are being given increasing scrutiny in forecasting circles, including our recent half-dozen articles in Foresight. Additionally this year, there has been a special issue of the International Journal of Forecasting focused on the topic.
Keith Ord and Robert Fildes offer this definition of FSS in their new textbook, Principles of Business Forecasting:
A set of (typically computer-based) procedures that facilitate interactive forecasting in an organizational context. An FSS enables users to combine relevant information, analytical models, and judgments, as well as visualizations, to produce forecasts and monitor their accuracy (p. 398).
This 31st issue of Foresight contributes two new articles to the FSS literature. Sujit Singh, COO of software-services company Arkieva, leads with a comprehensive evaluation of the adequacy of Excel in forecasting support, Supply Chain Forecasting and Planning: Move On from Microsoft Excel? Sujit explains that Excel’s shortcomings become more and more glaring as organizations grow in size and complexity. Then Tim Januschowski, Stephan Kolassa, Martin Lorenz, and Christian Schwarz present a systems development of intriguing potential in Forecasting with In-Memory Technology. The authors believe that this synthesis of analytical and transactional processing can enhance the use and acceptance of forecasting analytics within the organization.
In our Financial Forecasting piece, Foresight welcomes Jeffrey Mishlove, author of The Alpha Interface series of books and blogs on financial markets, who looks ahead to The Future of Financial Market Forecasting: Five Trends Worth Watching. Don’t miss the interview with Jeff in this issue as part of our occasional “Forecaster in the Field” feature.
Our always popular Book Reviews look at a pair of interesting titles. The first is Professor Mark Moon’s Demand and Supply Integration: The Key to World-Class Demand Forecasting. Reviewer John Mello examines Moon’s contention that DSI represents the way Sales and Operations Planning should be practiced within an organization. The second review is on Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics by Tom Davenport and Jinho Kim, and is a follow-up to Davenport’s Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning (coauthored with Jeanne Harris). Jack Pope’s review judges the book to be most appropriate for those “in non-quantitative roles that depend on others for the heavy analysis work.”
Our section on Forecasting Principles and Practices makes a convincing argument for greater application of statistical process control (SPC) in forecasting evaluation and planning. Using Process Behaviour Charts to Improve Forecasting and Decision Making is written by Martin Joseph and Alec Finney, longtime practitioners of SPC. They feel that process behaviour charts (PBCs) can bring significant new perspectives to S&OP meetings by distinguishing situations requiring action from those where changes are not really called for.
Then, Chris Gray, noted author of books on S&OP and Operations Management, provides his perspective on the evolution of the forecasting function in organizations. In New Directions in Managing the Forecasting Process, Chris observes that “businesses have shifted their focus away from the purely mathematical and statistical hammers and nails of forecasting and toward better management of the forecasting process.” His article offers a set of seven requirements for effective forecast-process management.