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The most important function of business is probably forecasting. A forecast is a starting point for planning. The objective of forecasting is to reduce risk in decision making. In business, forecasts are the basis for capacity planning, production and inventory planning, manpower planning, Planning for sales and market share, financial planning and budgeting, planning for research and development and top management strategic planning.


Forecasts are needed for marketing production, purchasing, manpower and financial planning. Furthermore top management needs forecasts for planning and implementing long-term strategic objectives and planning for capital expenditures. More specifically, production planners need forecasts in order to:

  1. Schedule production activities
  2. Other materials
  3. Establish inventory levels and
  4. Plan shipments.

Some other areas that need forecasts include material requirements (purchasing and procurement), labor scheduling, equipment purchases, maintenance requirements and plant capacity planning.

As, soon as the company makes sure that it has enough capacity, the production plan is developed. If the company does not have enough capacity, it will require planning and budgeting decisions for capital spending for capacity expansion.

A diagram displays the relationship between demand forecasting and production/ operations systems.

                                                            DEMAND FORECAST                                                       

PLANNING DESIGNING             PRODUCTION SHEDULING                                 CONTROLLING

   Product design                        Aggregate production planning                Material requirements

   Process design                              Master Scheduling                                      Planning and inventory management                                  

  Capacity planning                        Operations Scheduling                                Quality assurance

  Facilities Investment                                                                                            Project Management          

                                                     PRODUCTION OF GOODS/SERVICES


The company may choose from a wide range of forecasting techniques. There are basically two approaches to forecasting are qualitative and quantitative.

  • Qualitative approach : this approach forecasts based on judgment and opinion

Expert opinions

Delphi technique

Sales-force polling

Consumer Surveys

  • Quantitative approach

Moving averages and weighted moving averages

Exponential smoothing and trend effects

Simple regression

Multiple regressions

Trend analysis and classical decomposition

Quantitative models work superbly as long as little or no systematic change in the environment takes place. When patterns or relationships do change by themselves, the objective models are of little use. It is where the qualitative approach based on human judgment is indispensable. Because judgmental forecasting also bases forecasts on observation of existing trends, they are also subject to a number of shortcomings. As a result, the advantage is that they can identify systematic change more quickly and interpret better the effect of such change on the future.

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