# Topic: Meaning of Forecasting Need for Forecasting How Forecasting helps in

  

Decision Making

Introduction:
Forecasting is the estimation of the value of a variable (or set of variables) at some future point in time. In this note we will consider some methods for forecasting. A

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forecasting exercise is usually carried out in order to provide an aid to decision-making and in planning the future. Typically all such exercises work on the premise that if we can predict what the future will be like we can modify our behaviour now to be in a better position, than we otherwise would have been, when the future arrives. Applications for forecasting include:

Inventory control/production planning - forecasting the demand for a product enables us to control the stock of raw materials and finished goods, plan the production schedule, etc

Investment policy - forecasting financial information such as interest rates, exchange rates, share prices, the price of gold, etc. This is an area in which no one has yet developed a reliable (consistently accurate) forecasting technique (or at least if they have they haven't told anybody!)

Economic policy - forecasting economic information such as the growth in the economy, unemployment, the inflation rate, etc is vital both to government and business in planning for the future.

Why Forecast?
 “Forecasting is an attempt to foresee the future by examining the past.”  Forecasts require judgment.  Lead times require that decisions be made in advance of uncertain events.  Forecasting is an important for all strategic and planning decisions in a supply chain.  Forecasts of product demand, materials, labor, financing are an important inputs to scheduling, acquiring resources, and determining resource requirements.  Most estimates obtained in quality forecasting are derived in an objective and systematic fashion and do not depend solely on subjective guesses and hunches of the analyst.

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Thus, Statistical forecasting concentrates on using the past to predict the future by identifying trends, patterns and business drives within the data to develop a forecast. This forecast is referred to as a statistical forecast because it uses mathematical formulas to identify the patterns and trends while testing the results for mathematical reasonableness and confidence. In many Forecasting Processes, statistical forecasting forms the baseline that is adjusted throughout the process.

Meaning of Forecasting:
Forecasting is the process of estimation in unknown situations. Prediction is a similar, but more general term. Both can refer to estimation of time series, cross-sectional or longitudinal data. Usage can differ between areas of application: for example in hydrology, the terms "forecast" and "forecasting" are sometimes reserved for estimates of values at certain specific future times, while the term "prediction" is used for more general estimates, such as the number of times floods will occur over a long period. Risk and uncertainty are central to forecasting and prediction. Forecasting is used in the practice of Customer Demand Planning in every day business forecasting for manufacturing companies. The discipline of demand planning, also sometimes referred to as supply chain forecasting, embraces both statistical forecasting and a consensus process. Forecasting is apart of human conduct. Whatever an individual does at present is in the expectation of that certain events will take place in future. This expectation is generally based on the past experience. Forecast made in this fashion may or may not be true always. In a world, where the future is not taken (known) with certainty, virtually every business and economic decision rests upon a forecast of future condition. Thus, planning which is the backbone of any business activity requires the forecasting of future events, whereas forecasting helps in viewing those events in their proper perspective .Objectivity is the corer stone of forecasting. It thus helps in reducing risks associated with uncertain future events. Thus forecasting reduces the areas of 3

Need for Forecasting:
Business Forecasting is an estimate or prediction of future developments in business such as sales, expenditures, and profits. Given the wide swings in economic activity and the drastic effects these fluctuations can have on profit margins, it is not surprising that business forecasting has emerged as one of the most important aspects of corporate planning. Forecasting has become an invaluable tool for businesspeople to

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anticipate economic trends and prepare themselves either to benefit from or to counteract them. If, for instance, businesspeople envision an economic downturn, they can cut back on their inventories, production quotas, and hiring’s. If, on the contrary, an economic boom seems probable, those same businesspeople can take necessary measures to attain the maximum benefit from it. Good business forecasts can help business owners and managers adapt to a changing economy. Some of the important needs of forecasting are listed below:

i. Helps in Production Planning:
The rate of producing the products must be matched with the demand which may be fluctuating over the time period in the future. Since its time consuming to change the rate of output of the production processes, so production manager needs medium range demand forecasts to enable them to arrange for the production capacities to meet the monthly demands which are varying.

ii.

Helps in Financial Planning:
Sales forecasts are driving force in budgeting. Sales forecasts provide the timing

of cash inflows and also provide a basis for budging the requirements of cash outflows for purchasing materials, payments to employees and to meet other expenses of power and utilize etc. Hence forecasting helps finance manager to prepare budgets taking into consideration the cash inflow and cash out flows.

iii.

Helps in Economic Planning:
Forecasting helps in the study of macroeconomic variables like population, total

income, employment, savings, investment, general price-level, public revenue, public expenditure, balance of trade, balance of payments and a host of other macro aspects at national or regional levels. The forecasts of these variables are generally for a long period of time ranging between one year to ten or twenty years ahead. Much would

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depend on the perspective of planning, longer the perspective longer would be period of forecasting. Such forecasts are often called as projections. These are helpful not only for planning and public policy making, they also include likely economic environment and aid formulation of business policies as well.

iv.

Helps in Workforce Scheduling:
The forecast of monthly demand may further be broken down to weekly

demands and the workforce may have to be adjusted to meet these weekly demands. Hence, forecasts are needed to enable managers to get tuned with the workforce changes to meet the weekly production demands.

v.

Helps in Decisions Making:
The goal of the forecaster is to provide information for decision making. The purpose is to reduce the range of uncertainty about the future. Businessmen make forecasts for the purpose of making profits. In business forecast has to be done at every stage. A business man may dislike statistics or statistical theories of forecasting, but he can not do without making forecasts. Business plans of production, sales and investment requires predictions regarding demand for the product, price at which the product can be soled and the availability of inputs. The forecast about demand is the most crucial. Operating budgets of various departments of a company have to be based upon the expected sales. Efficient production schedules, minimization of operating cost and investment in fixed assets is when accurate forecasts recording sales and availability of inputs are available.

vi.

Helps in Controlling Business Cycles:

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Many experts agree that precise business forecasting is as much an art as a science. Because business cycles are not repetitious, a good forecast results as much from experience, sound instincts, and good judgment as from an established formula. Business forecasters can be, and have often been, completely off the mark in their predictions. If nothing else, business forecasts can be used as blueprint to better understand the nature and causes of economic fluctuations.

How Forecasting helps in Decision Making?

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Decision making is to choose best alternative from available alternatives to meet the objective of a company. Implementing forecasting forces a business has to base decisions on facts rather than hunches. Poor decision management might lead to failure of business. To succeed in business today, companies need forecasting that can help managers and business professionals in decision making. Almost all managerial decisions are based on forecasts. Every decision becomes operational at some point in the future, so it should be based on forecasts of future conditions. Forecasts are needed throughout an organization -- and they should certainly not be produced by an isolated group of forecasters. Neither is forecasting ever "finished". Forecasts are needed continually, and as time moves on, the impact of the forecasts on actual performance is measured; original forecasts are updated; and decisions are modified, and so on. For example, many inventory systems cater for uncertain demand. The inventory parameters in these systems require estimates of the demand and forecast error distributions. The two stages of these systems, forecasting and inventory control, are often examined independently. Most studies tend to look at demand forecasting as if this were an end in itself or at stock control models as if there were no preceding stages of computation. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the interaction between demand forecasting and inventory control since this influences the performance of the inventory system. This integrated process is shown in the following figure:

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The decision-maker uses forecasting models to assist him or her in decisionmaking process. The decision-making often uses the modeling process to investigate the impact of different courses of action retrospectively; that is, "as if" the decision has already been made under a course of action. That is why the sequence of steps in the modeling process, in the above figure must be considered in reverse order. For example, the output (which is the result of the action) must be considered first. For Example: Decision to “Whether to build a new factory” requires forecasts on future demand, technological innovations, cost, prices, competitor’s plan, labor, legislation, etc. Most forecasting required for decision making is handled judgmentally in an intuitive fashion, often without separating the task of forecasting from that of decision making. Systematic, explicit approaches to forecasting can be used to supplement the common sense and management ability of decision makers. All types and forms of forecasting techniques are extrapolation that is, predicting within the existing data. Quantitative forecasting techniques should be used in with analysis, judgment, common sense, and business experience in order to produce an effective forecasting outcome.

Decision-making involves the selection of a course of action (means) in pursue of the decision maker's objective (ends). The way that our course of action affects the outcome of a decision depends on how the forecasts and other inputs are interrelated and how they relate to the outcome.

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TOPIC:

 Role

of

Managers

in

Forecasting Techniques  Objectives of Forecasting
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ROLE OF A MANAGER IN FORECASTING TECHNIQUES:
The increasing complexities of the business environment together with the changing demands and expectations, implies that every organization needs to know the future values of their key decision variables. In virtually every decision they make, executives today consider some kind of forecast. In any organization, managers play a significant role in implementing Forecasting techniques. Forecasting takes the historical data and project them into the future to predict the occurrence of uncertain events. Forecasting serves as a self-assessment tool for the company. To handle the increasing variety and complexity of managerial forecasting problems, many forecasting techniques have been developed in recent years. Each has its special use, and care must be taken to select the correct technique for a particular application. The manager as the forecaster has a role to play in technique selection; and the better he understands the range of forecasting possibilities, the more likely it is that a company’s forecasting efforts will bear fruit .Sound predictions of demands and trends

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are no longer luxury items, but a necessity, if managers are to cope with seasonality, sudden changes in demand levels, and price-cutting maneuvers of the competition, strikes, and large swings of the economy. Forecasting can help them deal with these troubles; but it can help them more, the more they know about the general principles of forecasting, what it can and cannot do for them currently, and which techniques are suited to their needs of the moment. The selection of a method depends on many factors—the context of the forecast, the relevance and availability of historical data, the degree of accuracy desirable, the time period to be forecast, the cost/ benefit (or value) of the forecast to the company, and the time available for making the analysis. These factors must be weighed constantly, and on a variety of levels. In general, for example, the forecasting manager should choose a technique that makes the best use of available data. A manager forecasts by going through the reports, graphs and analyzes the pulse of the business .It can make a huge difference between just surviving and being highly successful in business. The future direction of the company may rest on the accuracy of forecasting done by a manager. The forecasting methodology emphasis on the knowledge and judgment of the manager. This is unavoidable given the nature of the market, but it follows that developing a good forecast is a labor-intensive process. When an objective is set in a company, the external and internal factors have to observed and listed by the manager. Studying cultural, political and international environment is necessary as these factors are uncontrollable. Internal factors such company’s internal policies and their effects on demand changes, technology changes, sales changes also need to considered .After gathering information various forecasting techniques which are needed are applied. The forecast should be operationally applied. This can be done by breaking it down on the basis of number of product lines, the type of customers, the various management policies. The various scenarios derived earlier must be compared in light of the operational feasibility. The idea here is to determine what is feasible and what is profitable from total internal business environment. After studying various feasibilities

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the forecast becomes really useful. After using the forecast, the forecast errors and reasons for deviation are monitored regularly. Managers who implement accurate sales forecasting processes realize important benefits to company such as: 1. Ability to determine the expected return on investment 2. The ability to plan for production and capacity 3. Determine the value of a business above the value of its current assets 4. Knowing when and how much to buy 5. The ability to identify the pattern or trend of sales 6. Enhanced cash flow 7. In-depth knowledge of customers and the products they order.

The combination of these benefits may result in: • • • • Increased efficiency Increased customer retention Increased revenue Decreased costs

MANAGER AS A FORECASTING MANAGER:
The Forecasting Manager serves as the lead of a forecasting working group. The primary responsibility of this individual is to implement the forecasting process and provide objective short-term and long-range forecasting models, standards and guidelines to the Product Team. This includes the design, construction and implementation of forecasting models for specific brands. When working with the group, the Forecasting Manager must have the ability to quickly assess the major issues surrounding each forecasting problem, understand the decisions the forecast will impact, and recommend a forecasting approach. In addition, the manager should be able to identify the information/data required, and to articulate any secondary and/or primary research required to support the forecasting process. 13

The Forecasting Manager may be required to hire external consultants to complete forecasting projects. Also, this position will require the continuous evaluation of new forecasting techniques, and technologies through internal/external networking, and attending forecasting and industry seminars. Major Responsibilities are: • Understand and implement forecasting and business planning processes; -Identify key business issues that impact short-term and long-range product and market forecasts; • • • • • • • • Design primary research techniques to understand business drivers and how research results should be integrated into a forecast model; Create product-specific long-range forecasts models (incremental and absolute); Maintain up-to-date forecast models, reflecting current data/information/assumptions; Understand any promotional response models developed for their specific product; Educate others in the appropriate use of forecasting models; Compile and analyze secondary marketing and sales data; Create long-range forecasting models and benchmarks; Educate others on the appropriate use of these technologies; For forecasting to be valuable to a company or a business, it must not be treated as an isolated exercise. Rather, it must be integrated into all facets of an organization.

Objectives of forecasting:
Forecasting has few objectives. Some the few important objectives of forecasting are as follows: 1. To estimate the amount of error in forecast by using probability theory. 2. To assist in managerial decision making in uncertainties.

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3. To acquaint businessmen and economists about the future probable circumstances. 4. To clarify the differences of actual data of the future by comparing it with preforecasted data by using theory of probable error. 5. To provide basis for determination of future policy. 6. To indicate the probability of happenings in the future. 7. The forecast provides a warning system of critical functions to be monitored regularly because they might drastically affect the performance of the plan.

Topic: Requirements of Good Forecast Types of Forecasts Demand Forecast Environmental Forecast Technological Forecast

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REQUIREMENTS FORECAST
:

OF

A

GOOD

A good forecast should satisfy the following criteria:
Time frame Pattern of the data Cost of forecasting/ Economy Accuracy Availability of data Durability Plausibility/Ease of operation and understanding Flexibility

Time frame:
The first factor that can influence the choice of forecasting is the time frame of the forecasting situation. Forecasts are generally for points in time that may be a number of days, weeks, months, quarters, or years in the future. This length of time is called the time frame or time horizon. The length of the time frame is usually categorized as follows: Immediate: less than one month Short term: one to three months Medium: more than three months to less than two years.

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Long term: two years or more In general, the length of the time frame will influence the choice of the forecasting technique. Typically a longer time frame makes accurate forecasting more difficult with qualitative forecasting techniques becoming more useful as the time frame lengthens.

Pattern of the data:
The pattern of the data must also be considered when choosing a forecasting model. The components present i.e.’ trend, cycle, seasonal or some combination of these will help determine the model that will be used. Thus it is extremely important to identify the existing data pattern.

Cost of forecasting/ Economy:
Though the firm is interested in accurate forecasts, the benefits of accurate results must be weighed against the cost of the method. While choosing a forecasting technique, several costs are relevant. First, the cost of developing the model must be considered. Second the cost of storing the necessary data must be considered. Some forecasting methods require the storage of a relatively small amount of data, while other methods require the storage of large amounts of data. Last, the cost of the actual operation of the forecasting technique is obviously very important. Some forecasting methods are operationally simple, while others are very complex. The degree of complexity can have a definite influence on the total cost of forecasting.

Accuracy desired:

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Accuracy in forecasting is very important. The previous method must be checked for want of accuracy by observing that the predictions made in the past are accurate or not. The accuracy of past forecasting can be checked against present performance and of present forecasts against future performance. In some situations a forecast that is in error by as much as 20% may be acceptable. In other situations a forecast that is in error by 1% might be disastrous. The accuracy that can be obtained using any particular forecasting method is always an important consideration.

Availability of data:
Immediate availability of data is an important requirement and the method employed should be able to produce good results quickly. The technique which takes much time to produce useful information is of no use. Historical data on the variable of interest are used when quantitative forecasting methods are employed. The availability of this information is a factor that may determine the forecasting method to be used. Since various forecasting methods require different amounts of historical data, the quantity of data available is important. Beyond this, the accuracy and the timeliness of the data that are available must be examined, since the use of inaccurate or outdated historical data will obviously yield inaccurate predictions. If the needed historical data are not available, special data-collection procedures may be necessary.

Plausibility/Ease of operation and understanding:
The ease with the forecasting method is operated and understood is important. Management must be able to understand and have confidence in the technique used. It has to understand clearly how the estimate was made. Mathematical and statistical techniques should be avoided if the management cannot understand what the forecaster does.

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Managers are held responsible for the decisions they make and if they are to be expected to base their decisions on predictions, they must be able to understand the techniques used to obtain these predictions. A manager simply will not have confidence in the predictions obtained from a forecasting technique he or she does not understand, and if the manager does not have confidence in these predictions, they will not be used in the decision-making process. Thus, the managers understanding of the forecasting system is of crucial importance.

Durability:
The forecast should be durable and should not be changed frequently. The durability of the forecasts depends on the simplicity and ease of comprehension as well as on continuous link between the past and the present and between present and the future.

Flexibility:
The technique used in forecasting must be able to accommodate and absorb frequent changes occurring in the economy.

TYPES OF FORECAST:
A forecast is a prediction or an estimation of a future situation .The objectives of an organization are facilitated by a number of different types of forecast. These may be related to cash flows, operating budgets, personnel requirement, inventory levels, and so on. However a broad classification of the types of forecasts is as follows. Demand forecasts

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Environmental forecasts Technological forecasts

Demand forecasts:
Demand forecasting means an estimation of the level of demand that might be realized in future under given circumstances. These are concerned with the predictions of demand for products or services to minimize the uncertainties of the unknown future. These forecasts facilitate in formulating material and capacity plans and serves as inputs to financial, marketing and personnel planning. The forecast itself may be generated in a number of ways, many of which depend heavily upon sales and marketing information. Objectives of demand forecasting: The objectives of forecasting are different in case of short run and long run forecasts.

Short run forecasting:
Short run forecasting is usually a period not exceeding one year. The following are the objectives of short run demand forecasting: To evolve a suitable production policy: Short term forecasts help the firm to plan the production so as to avoid the problems of over production and short supply. To plan the purchase pf raw materials: The firm’s can plan the purchase of raw materials at appropriate time to reduce the cost and control inventories.

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To arrange for short term financial requirements: The firms require not only short term funds for purchase of raw materials and payment of wages, but also medium term funds for replacement and renewal to maintain productive efficiency. To determine appropriate price policy: Short run forecasting helps the firm to evolve a suitable price policy depending upon the expected market conditions to maintain consistent sales. To fix sales targets: Realistic sales targets can be fixed for the salesmen on the basis of short term demand forecasting. If the targets are too high the salesmen may fail to achieve them and they will get discouraged. If the targets are too low the salesmen will achieve the targets so easily that the incentives will prove meaningless.

Long run forecasting:
Long run forecasting is generally for a period exceeding 3 years. The following are the objectives of long run demand forecasting. To plan the establishment of a new unit or expansion of an existing unit: Planning of a new unit or expansion of an existing unit requires an analysis of the long term demand potential of the products. The competitive strength of the firm will be greater if it has better knowledge than the rivals of the growth trends in the economy. 21

To plan long term financial requirements: Long run forecasts are essential to assess long term financial requirements. When the funds required for expansion, modernization and diversification are large, it takes time to make necessary arrangements for raising sufficient resources through long term loans and the issue of shares and debentures. To plan manpower requirements: Long term demand forecasting is useful for manpower planning. Training and personnel development can be started well in advance on the basis of estimates of manpower requirements assessed according to long term demand forecasts.

Environmental forecasts:
Environmental forecasting is attempting to predict the nature and intensity of the micro environmental and macro environmental forces that are likely to affect a firm's decision making and have an impact upon its performance in a given period. Environmental concerns such as pollution control, are much better managed from an anticipatory rather than an after the fact standpoint. Environmental forecasts are concerned with the social, political and economic environment of the state or the country.

Social Forecast:
It provides a better understanding of the forces shaping the environment. It should provide confidence to manager that his decisions reflect assessment of these issues. The use of social forecasting stems from recognition that social pressures are becoming an increasing determinant for the success of any organization. The various indicators

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indicate that the society will be experiencing a total change in next few years. Some of these changes have to be anticipated and must be incorporated in any long-range plans of an organization. The purpose of social forecasting is to provide an analytical framework for helping the corporate decision-maker to make his own judgment based on analysis. The social forecasting may not guarantee that correct decisions will be taken. Nor will it ensure that forecasts will be obtained from the emerging trends. It provides a better understanding of the forces shaping the environment. In social forecasting we include all those environmental factors that are not currently embraced by economic or technological forecasting. Primarily it involves individual as customer, supplier, manager or employee. It concerns people in-groups both inside as well as outside organizations. It further unfolds to government, society in general and to transnational organizations.

Economic forecast:
Economic forecasting is essentially concerned with modeling how people behave using financial criteria as a means for maximizing welfare. It is dependent on certain assumption of people behaviour. If the behaviour changes the forecast is likely to change. Economic forecasts are valuable because they help in predicting inflation rates, money supplies, operating budget and so on. The Techniques Available for Environmental Forecasting: a. b. c. d. Brainstorming Delphi Checklists Forecasting of issues in isolation

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e. f. g. h. i. j. k. l. m. n.

Simple extrapolation Fitting curves of a known characteristic Analogies Substitution curves Monitoring Value profiles Cross relationships between factors Trend impact analysis Cross impact analysis Scenarios

Technological forecasts:
It is forecasting the future characteristics of useful technological machines, procedures or techniques. These are concerned with new developments in existing technologies as well as the development of new technologies. They have become increasingly important to major firms in the computer, aerospace, nuclear and many other technologically advanced industries.

Important aspects: Primarily, a technological forecast deals with the characteristics of technology, such as levels of technical performance, like speed of a military aircraft, the power in watts of a particular future engine, the accuracy or precision of a measuring instrument, the number of transistors in a chip in the year 2015, etc. The forecast does not have to state how these characteristics will be achieved. 24

Secondly, technological forecasting usually deals with only useful machines, procedures or techniques. This is to exclude from the domain of technological forecasting those commodities, services or techniques intended for luxury or amusement.

Methods of technology forecasting:
Commonly adopted methods of technology forecasting include The Delphi method Forecast by analogy Growth curves Extrapolation Normative methods of technology forecasting commonly used include — like the Relevance trees Morphological models Mission flow diagrams Thus technological forecasting is not mere astrology or palmistry, but a scientific and well defined procedure adopted by a technological forecaster or a consultancy for the forecasting of a particular technology. Even though technological forecasting is a scientific discipline, some experts are of the view that "the only certainty of a particular forecast is that it is wrong to some degree."

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Topic:  Timing of Forecasts  Short Range Forecast  Medium Range Forecast  Long Range Forecast  Forecasting Forecasting MethodsQualitative

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TIMING OF FORECASTS:
Forecasts are classified according to period, time and use. The three divisions of forecast are short range forecast, medium range forecast and long range forecast.

1.

Short range forecast:
It is typically less than 3 months but has a time span of upto 1 year. It is used in planning,

purchasing for job schedules, job assignments, work force levels, product levels.

2.

Medium range forecast:
It is typically 3 months to 1 year but has a time span from one to three years. It is used for

sales planning, production planning, cash budgeting and so on. 3.

Long range forecast:
This has a time span of three or more years. It is used for designing and installing new

plants, facility location, capital expenditures, research and development, etc. There are long term forecasts as well as short term forecasts. Operation managers need long range forecasts to make strategic-decisions about products, processes and facilities. They also need short term forecasts to assist them in making decisions about production issues that span, only the next few weeks. Forecasting forms an integral part of planning and decision making, production managers must be clear about the horizon of forecasts-month or year. For Example, they must be clear about the Methods of Forecasting and the units of Forecasting (gross rupee sales, individual product, demand etc).

Application of Short Range forecasts:
Short Range sales Forecasts provide operations managers with the information to make important decisions such as the following

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How much inventory of a particular product (Ex Finished goods) should be carried next month?

How much of each product should be scheduled for production next week

How much of each raw material should be ordered for delivery next week?

How much workers should be scheduled to work on regular time basis and on overtime basis next week?

How many maintenance workers should be scheduled to work next week?

Application of Long Range forecasts:
Long Range Forecasts provide, operations managers with information to make important decisions such as the Following: • Selecting a product design. The final design is dependent on Expected sales volume. If the Demand is high, the Design should be such that the product can be mass –produced ton ensuring low costs manufacture. • • • • Selecting a production processing scheme Selecting a plan to supply scarce materials Selecting a long range production capacity plan Selecting a long range Financial Plan for acquiring funds for capital investment • To build new buildings and to purchase new materials 28

To develop new sources of materials and new source of capital funds(finance)

Difference between these Forecasts:
Medium and Long range Forecasts deal with more comprehensive issues and support management decisions regarding design and the development of new products ,plants and processes. And the Short range forecasts tend to be more accurate then the long range forecasts .Ex sales forecasts need to be updated regularly in order to maintain their value after each sale period, the forecasts should be reviewed and revised.

QUALITATIVE METHODS OF FORECASTING:
Qualitative forecasting methods consist of collecting the opinions and judgments of individuals who are expected to have the best knowledge of current activities or future plans of the organization. For example, knowledge of demand trends and consumer plans are often known to marketing and sales personnel are presumably familiar with individual customers or retail market segment. Management usually maintains broader market information on trends by product line, geographic area, customer groups, etc. Qualitative forecasting methods have the advantage that they can incorporate subjective experience as inputs along with objectives data. It is a human brain that permits assimilation of all types of information and the ultimate issuance of a prediction. Since each human being has different knowledge, experience, and perceptive of reality, intuitive forecasts are likely to differ from one individual to another. Furthermore, the less they are based upon fact and quantified data, the less they lend themselves to analyses and resolution of differences of opinion. The quantification of data gives them a more precise meaning than words which are in exact and are capable of being misunderstood. Also, if the forecast prove to be inaccurate there is an objective bases for improvement the next time around. A number of approaches fall under qualitative methods and these are as follows:

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PERSONAL OPINION- In this approach of forecasting, an individual does some

forecast of the future based on his or her own judgement or opinion without using a formal quantitative model. Such an assessment can be relatively reliable and accurate. This approach is usually recommended when condition in the past are not likely to hold in the future. For instance, getting an assessment of whether inventory levels are likely to last until the next replenishment; whether a machine will require, repair in the next month and so on.

• • • It is fast and efficient. It is timely and based on good information content. It uses the collective knowledge of experts.

• • • Experts can make mistakes. Subjectivity and bias of experts and vitiate the forecast. The group dynamics of the experts could be greatly influenced by the degree of

dominance of a particular person. He who could shout loudest might get his way.

MARKET SURVEY: This method is used to collect data on well defined objectives and assumptions of about the future value of a variable. A carefully designed questionnaire is administered to the selected target audience of customers. Customers are selected independently using a representative random sample. This method is very popular and if carefully implemented will give you good results.

• •

This is the apt technique to use, particularly if you want to forecast sales for a new This method of forecasting requires the active cooperation of the target audience.

product or new brand.

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• •

The sample size must be reasonably large. Larger the sample size smaller will be the Larger the sample size the more time consuming and costly the survey will be. Swo, you

standard error and sampling error. have to strike a balance between sample size and cost.

DELPHI METHOD: It is a quantitative forecasting method that obtains forecasts through group consensus. In the expert opinion method of forecasting a consensus forecast is arrived at after eliciting the opinions and views of experts with diverse background. Certainly this method is subject to group dynamics. At times, judgements may be highly influenced by persuasions of some group members who have strong likes and dislikes. Delphi method attempts to retain the wisdom and accumulated knowledge of a group while simultaneously attempting to reduce the group effects. In this method, group members are asked to make individual assessment about a forecast. These assessments are complied and then fed back to the members, so that they get the opportunity to compare their judgement with others. They are then given an option to revise their forecasts. After three or four replications, group members reach their final conclusion.

HISTORICAL ANALOGY: This method is applied when a new product is about to be introduced by a company. Forecasting sales for new products are difficult in view of lack of proper historical data. Historical analogy method attempts to forecast sales for a new product based on the performance of related or similar products in the market place. The database of sales of these products forms the basis for forecasting.

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• • •

You cannot precisely say how your new product is similar or related to a particular Suppose you have a number of products that you feel are similar to yours. Which of these Products that are similar to yours could have failed in the past for a variety of reasons. Let

product. will you consider as most similar to yours? us say a similar product failed in the past because whenever there was an advertisement about this product, it was not available on the shelf. So, the consumers developed a negative perception about this product and became skeptical about its availability. You may not know all these and simply conclude your product will also fail! PANEL CONSENSES: To reduce the prejudices and ignorance that may arise in the individual judgement , it is possible to develop consensus among group to individuals. Such a panel of individuals is encouraged to share information, opinion, and assumptions to predict future value of some variable.

• It is dependent on group dynamics and frequently requires a facilitator or convenor to coordinate the process of developing a consensus.

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Topic:

 Forecasting MethodsQuantitative Forecast  Steps of Forecasting

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QUANTITATIVE FORECASTING METHODS:
Time series Forecasting Methods:
Time series forecasting methods are based on analysis of historical data (time series: a set of observations measured at successive times or over successive periods). They make the assumption that past patterns in data can be used to forecast future data points. 1. Moving averages (simple moving average, weighted moving average): forecast is based on arithmetic average of a given number of past data points 2. Exponential smoothing (single exponential smoothing, double exponential smoothing): a type of weighted moving average that allows inclusion of trends, etc. 3. Mathematical models (trend lines, log-linear models, Fourier series, etc.): linear or non-linear models fitted to time-series data, usually by regression methods 4. Box-Jenkins methods: autocorrelation methods used to identify underlying time series and to fit the "best" model

Components of Time Series Demand:
1. Average: the mean of the observations over time 2. Trend: a gradual increase or decrease in the average over time 3. Seasonal Influence: predictable short-term cycling behaviour due to time of day, week, month, season, year, etc. 4. Cyclical Movement: unpredictable long-term cycling behaviour due to business cycle or product/service life cycle 5. Random Error: remaining variation that cannot be explained by the other four components

Simple Moving Average:

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Moving average techniques forecast demand by calculating an average of actual demands from a specified number of prior periods each new forecast drops the demand in the oldest period and replaces it with the demand in the most recent period; thus, the data in the calculation "moves" over time Simple moving average: At = Dt + Dt-1 + Dt-2 + ... + Dt-N+1 N Where N = total number of periods in the average Forecast for period: t+1: Ft+1 = At Key Decision: N - How many periods should be considered in the forecast Tradeoff: Higher value of N - greater smoothing, lower responsiveness Lower value of N - less smoothing, more responsiveness • • • The more periods (N) over which the moving average is calculated, the less susceptible the forecast is to random variations, but the less responsive it is to changes. A large value of N is appropriate if the underlying pattern of demand is stable. A smaller value of N is appropriate if the underlying pattern is changing or if it is important to identify short-term fluctuations

Weighted Moving Average:
A weighted moving average is a moving average where each historical demand may be weighted differently Average: At = W1 Dt + W2 Dt-1 + W3 Dt-2 + ... + WN Dt-N+1 Where: N = total number of periods in the average Wt = weight applied to period t's demand
Sum of all the weights = 1

Forecast: Ft+1 = At = forecast for period t+1 35

Exponential Smoothing:
Exponential smoothing gives greater weight to demand in more recent periods, and less weight to demand in earlier periods Average: At = a Dt + (1 - a) At-1 = a Dt + (1 - a) Ft Forecast for period t+1: Ft+1 = At Where: At-1 = "series average" calculated by the exponential smoothing model to period t-1 a = smoothing parameter between 0 and 1 The larger the smoothing parameter , the greater the weight given to the most recent demand

Double Exponential Smoothing:
(TREND-ADJUSTED EXPONENTIAL SMOOTHING) When a trend exists, the forecasting technique must consider the trend as well as the series average ignoring the trend will cause the forecast to always be below (with an increasing trend) or above (with a decreasing trend) actual demand Double exponential smoothing smoothes (averages) both the series average and the trend Forecast for period t+1: Ft+1 = At + Tt Average: At = aDt + (1 - a) (At-1 + Tt-1) = aDt + (1 - a) Ft Average trend: Tt = B CTt + (1 - B) Tt-1 Current trend: CTt = At - At-1 Forecast for p periods into the future: Ft+p = At + p Tt Where: At = exponentially smoothed average of the series in period t

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Tt = exponentially smoothed average of the trend in period t CTt = current estimate of the trend in period t a = smoothing parameter between 0 and 1 for smoothing the averages B = smoothing parameter between 0 and 1 for smoothing the trend

Multiplicative Seasonal Method:
What happens when the patterns you are trying to predict display seasonal effects? What is seasonality? - It can range from true variation between seasons, to variation between months, weeks, days in the week and even variation during a single day or hour. To deal with seasonal effects in forecasting two tasks must be completed: 1. A forecast for the entire period (ie year) must be made using whatever forecasting technique is appropriate. This forecast will be developed using whatever 2. The forecast must be adjust to reflect the seasonal effects in each period (ie month or quarter) The multiplicative seasonal method adjusts a given forecast by multiplying the forecast by a seasonal factor Step 1: calculate the average demand y per period for each year (y) of past data by dividing total demand for the year by the number of periods in the year Step 2: divide the actual demand Dy,t for each period (t) by the average demand y per period (calculated in Step 1) to get a seasonal factor fy,t for each period; repeat for each year of data Step 3: calculate the average seasonal factor t for each period by summing all the seasonal factors fy,t for that period and dividing by the number of seasonal factors Step 4: determine the forecast for a given period in a future year by multiplying the average seasonal factor t by the forecasted demand in that future year

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Seasonal Forecasting (multiplicative method) Actual Demand Year 1 2 3 Q1 100 120 134 Q2 70 80 80 Q3 60 70 70 Q4 90 110 100 Total 320 380 381 Avg 80 95 96

Seasonal Factor Year 1 2 3 Avg. Seasonal Factor Q1 1.25 1.26 1.4 1.30 Q2 .875 .84 .83 .85 Q3 .75 .74 .73 .74 Q4 1.125 1.16 1.04 1.083

Seasonal Factor - the percentage of average quarterly demand that occurs in each quarter. Annual Forecast for year 4 is predicted to be 400 units. Average forecast per quarter is 400/4 = 100 units. Quarterly Forecast = avg. forecast × seasonal factor.
• • • •

Q1: 1.303(100) = 130 Q2: .85(100) = 85 Q3: .74(100) = 74 Q4: 1.083(100) = 108

STEPS IN FORECASTING:
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Forecasting business change involves more than analysis of statistical data-it also embodies the prediction of economic change such as secular trend. Seasonal variations. Cyclical variations and a consideration of cause and effect. Broadly speaking the forecasting of business fluctuations consists of the following steps:

1. Understanding why changes in the past have occurred:
One of the basic principles of statistical forecasting-indeed of all forecasting when historical data are available – is that the forecaster should use the data on past performance to get a “speedometer reading” of the current rate (say, of sales) and of how fast this rate is increasing or decreasing. The current rate and changes in the rate- “acceleration” and “deceleration”-constitute the basis of forecasting. Once they are known, various mathematical techniques can develop projections from them. If an attempt is made to forecast business fluctuations without understanding why past changes have taken place, the forecast will be purely mechanical based solely upon the application of mathetical formulae and subject to serious error. Observation and analysis of the past behavior is one of the most vital parts of forecasting. However, it should be carefully noted that though future may be some sort of extension of the past. It may not be an exact replica. Changes in business and economic activity are caused by numerous forces or factors which are often difficult to discover and measure. Not only this, they may appear in all kinds of combinations and may be constantly changing. Hence in making forecasts, we should not assume that history repeats itself. Rather, we should believe that there are certain regularities in the past behavior which can be observed and used as a basis for reducing the uncertainities of the future. It is often said that the past, imperfect indicator of the future though it is, is the best guide we have in attempting to make predictions.

2. Determining which phases of business activity must be measured:

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After it is known why business fluctuations have occurred, or if there is a reasonable supposition, it is necessary to measure certain phases of business activity in order to predict what changes will probably follow the present level of activity.

3. Selecting and compiling data to be used as measuring devices:
There is an interdependent relationship between the selection of statistical data and determination of why business fluctuations occur. Statistical data cannot be collected and analysed in an intelligent manner unless there ia a sufficient understanding of business fluctuations; likewise, it is important that reasons for business fluctuations be stated in such a manner that it is possible to secure data that are related to the reasons.

4. Analyzing the data:
In this last step, the data are analysed in the light of one’s understanding of the reason why change occurs. For example, if it is reasoned that a certain combination of forces will result in a given change, the statistical part of the problem is to measure these forces and from the data available, to draw conclusions on the future course of action. The methods of drawing conclusions may be called forecasting techniques and they represent any one of a large number of analytical devices for summarizing data and drawing inferences from the summaries.

Conclusion:

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We have given just an overview of the types of forecasting methods available. The key in forecasting nowadays is to understand the different forecasting methods and their relative merits and so be able to choose which method to apply in a particular situation (for example consider how many time series forecasting methods the package has available). All forecasting methods involve tedious repetitive calculations and so are ideally suited to be done by a computer. Forecasting packages, many of an interactive kind (for use on pc's) are available to the forecaster.

Bibiliography:
 Business Statistics by J.K. Sharma
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 www.findarticles.com  www.encyclopedia.co.uk/define/forecasting  www.dictionary.reference.com/browse/forecast  www.eurofound.europa.eu/eiro  www.ieor.verkeley.edu.oliver/book.html  En.wikipedia.org/wiki/technology_forecasting  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_forecasting

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