Guest blogger: Len Tashman previews Fall issue of Foresight

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Editor Len Tashman's Preview of the Fall 2015 issue of Foresight

Len Tashman

Len Tashman

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.

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About Author

Mike Gilliland

Product Marketing Manager

Michael Gilliland is a longtime business forecasting practitioner and currently Product Marketing Manager for SAS Forecasting. He is on the Board of Directors of the International Institute of Forecasters, and is Associate Editor of their practitioner journal Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting. Mike is author of The Business Forecasting Deal (Wiley, 2010) and editor of the free e-book Forecasting with SAS: Special Collection (SAS Press, 2020). He is principal editor of Business Forecasting: Practical Problems and Solutions (Wiley, 2015) and Business Forecasting: The Emerging Role of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (Wiley, 2021). In 2017 Mike receive the Institute of Business Forecasting's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2021 his paper "FVA: A Reality Check on Forecasting Practices" was inducted into the Foresight Hall of Fame. Mike initiated The Business Forecasting Deal blog in 2009 to help expose the seamy underbelly of forecasting practice, and to provide practical solutions to its most vexing problems.

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