Collaborative Planning in Supply Chain – Share your Forecasts

Forecasting in Supply Chain

Forecast Collaboration

  1. How to reduce Supply Chain Planning cycle time and inventory levels?
  2. How to automate inventory replenishment?
  3. What will happen if one of my suppliers reduce capacity on one of their plants?
  4. How do I inform my suppliers when my customers reduce their demand?

All the above questions are asked by Supply chain managers frequently when they are planning their supply chain horizon. Collaboration is the key answer to all these questions

Current Collaboration Status

Today’s collaborative planning process is mostly a collection of disconnected processes. Limited collaboration with suppliers leads to low forecast accuracy. Low visibility into customer demands and supplier capacity leads to holding too much of inventory. Just in case effect.

Multi Tier Collaboration in Forecasting

Most of the times, the forecast is limited to Tier 1 suppliers. But Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers are also very important in a tight supply chain. If the responsibility of propagation of demand is left to Tier 1 suppliers, it may not reach the Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers effectively. It is the responsibility of the Supply chain manager to know their supply chain including Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers.

Multi Tier collaboration

Multi Tier Order Collaboration

Refer the above diagram. The forecast need to progress through various levels to get the perfect collaboration and orchestration in the supply chain.

Portal for Forecast Collaboration

Using a cloud portal is a simple solution to achieve collaboration in Forecast process. As portals are accessible from anywhere and not tied to any single ERP system, it provides a single common system that is shared between customers and suppliers to share and collaborate on the Forecast process. Also data can be sent From and Into a planning system into the collaboration portal easily providing an Automated forecast sharing process

Process in a Forecast Collaboration

A typical process in forecast collaboration works like this

  1. Customer (Buying Organization) runs their MRP (Material Requirement Planning) in their in-house planning system or ERP system generating detailed forecast for each suppliers
  2. Forecast details sent to Collaboration Portal using any Integration methods like File transfer, API, EDI etc
  3. Suppliers informed of new forecasts available in the portal
  4. Suppliers Review the forecast and may download to feed their own MRP/ERP system for further analysis
  5. Suppliers confirm their capacity to meet the forecast or request to downgrade or upgrade the forecast by providing their commits
  6. Suppliers responses downloaded and fed into MRP/ERP system for further refining the forecast and publish revised forecast
  7. The cycle is repeated every week so that any changes in the demand can be sent to collaboration portal for suppliers to review and commit

Build a Collaboration Portal or Outsource to Cloud

While it is possible to develop a collaboration portal in-house, it makes sense to outsource to ready made solutions like TPSynergy Forecast Collaboration Portal.  The cloud solutions have ready made user interfaces that are tailor made for effective forecast collaboration

Forecast collaboration

Forecast Collaboration in Supply Chain

Refer the typical collaboration portal shown above. It has the forecast details for 52 weeks that are shared in the cloud with the suppliers. It is easy for the suppliers to review the forecast and provide their capacity commits.

This kind of tools makes the Forecast collaboration process easy to deploy.