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Why don’t forecasters get the respect they deserve from upper management?

October 2, 2013 • Featured, Opinion

In my opinion, respect is earned, not commanded. I recognize that there are companies where management either doesn’t trust forecasts or sees no value in them. Here education is the key. Management needs to understand: One, forecasts are forecasts, but they improve over time if prepared informally, not intuitively. Two, forecasts don’t have to be perfect; less-than-perfect forecasts also add value. Management understands the numbers better if benefits are monetized—for example, they like to know how much money was saved last year by cutting down discount offerings, obsolescence, inventory, and stock- outs resulting from improvement in forecasts. Keep in mind that management wants to learn, and not to be taught.

Also, to get respect from management requires patience, perseverance, and persistence. At Parke-Davis, it took three years before management started accepting the numbers generated by the forecasting group. At the time, the company had two sets of forecasts: One comprised those that were developed intuitively by upper management for its own use. The other set was prepared by the forecasting group and was used in production planning. To make upper management understand, the forecasting group kept submitting its forecasts along with actuals. After three years, management started asking why these forecasts were different from its own, which was the turning point.

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