Forecasting & Replenishment

Customer Spotlight: Topaz and the Forecasting & Replenishment Forum

We sat down recently with Lance Missry, Director of Procurement and Inventory Management at Topaz to discuss his experience at last year’s Forecasting & Replenishment Forum, and what his goals are for this year’s event.

Q. How many Forecasting & Replenishment Forums have you attended?

Last year was my first Forum.

Q. What did you gain from last year’s Forecasting & Replenishment Forum?

I think the most valuable part for me was learning from the other participants — talking to them, hearing about their trials, tribulations, issues, solutions. The formal presentations enabled me to learn about great shortcuts in the Demand Planning system.

One of the major takeaways for me last year was being able to understand better the processes and the cycles that people used. It was very helpful to understand the principles and business practices behind our software. Being able to watch how you actually do the batch review, how you do the forecast review, and gaining an understanding of the benefits of getting into a monthly cycle was invaluable.

Q. What do you hope to gain from this year’s Forum?

There’s a lot of hidden horsepower in the Demand Planning solution, so we’ve decided to have some new team members attend the forum this year to more or less¬†expand our pit crew. It will give them a chance to go deep on product content and expand their networks at the same time.

Right now we’re using very broad brushstrokes with our safety stock. This year we plan to take it to the next level and start refining our approach by doing a little more variable safety stock and looking into improved turns, among other things. Sending new people this year will add to our collective expertise and help us meet our goals.

Additionally the “deep dive” provided by the Forum will enable more of the procurement and inventory team to help company stakeholders better understand the overall value of the Demand Planning solution.

For example, initially it was hard to get everyone to believe that when it comes to forecasting, we’re not going to look back on history — instead we’re going to look at the forecast and order based on the forecast.

Another mindset shift involved getting the whole company to realize statistical forecasts are nice, but there’s also a lot of market and customer intelligence, as well as other information, that has to go into the forecast.

Q. How will your team prepare for the Forum?

While attending the Forum is a professional development perk of sorts, we also see it as a procurement mission. The mission being to obtain relevant knowledge and information to help us fine-tune our Demand Planning system on a number of fronts, including being able to achieve the same service levels while finding ways to reduce expenses. We’ll be preparing our attendees with specific questions to help us proceed on this path.

Q. What advice or tips do you have for other first time attendees?

I believe in the event, or we would not send people again this year. When you are handling your day-to-day job and responsibilities it’s often easy to feel like you’re working in a vacuum. My advice for first-time attendees is to be sure to bring your questions with you to the event, and schedule time to sit with a consultant if needed. Don’t forget to take advantage of the opportunity to talk to other users of the system to find out what they are doing. And lastly, make time to share the knowledge with your team internally when you return.

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Topaz Background:

Topaz is a leading manufacturer of electrical fittings, traditional lighting, ballasts, LED fixtures and lamps for residential, industrial and commercial use. With four Distribution Centers and 12 strategic stocking locations spanning the US, Topaz carries and supports 17,000 product SKU’s. The firm has been using Lanham’s Demand Planning solution for the past year to help with its demand planning and forecasting strategies.

Register now for the 2018 Forecasting & Replenishment Forumn Рbefore the early bird discount expires on April 4. And, be sure to welcome the new attendees joining us from Topaz!

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