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66 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2018 shortages can be remedied, or at least miti- gated, by building accurate forecasts. 10 Tips for Accurate Forecasting 1. Ask your CSR what they need from you. Make sure to get the information to them when they need it. 2. Better data means a better forecast. To get an accurate picture of your business, look at 12 months of sales data. This will give you the best idea of what you need to order and when you need it. 3. Tell your CSR of anything out of the ordi- nary on the horizon. If your product was just profiled in an industry publication and you anticipate a spike in sales or if you just lost a major customer, both will affect your forecast. 4. An accurate forecast is always better than a timely forecast. What do we mean? It's better to have a correct forecast made once a month than an incorrect forecast made once a week. 5. Take heed of events that can affect the forecast. Holidays are on the calendar; every- one knows they are coming, but year after year people make the mistake of not preparing for them. Talk to your CSR and find out how early you should be ordering for Chinese New Year, Tet or any other holiday that could disrupt the flow of your products. 6. Know the lead time for your product and keep it in mind when creating your forecast. 7. If you lack experience in forecasting hire someone who has it. Work with suppliers with experience in overseas shipping. 8. Ask questions. You're not going to be an expert at forecasting to begin with, but you can learn. Your CSR will be happy to help; there are webinars and tutorials galore. Become a student of the art of forecasting. 9. Stay vigilant! Forecasts are living docu- ments and are easily affected by outside forces. Whether bottlenecks at the ports after the holi- days, labor, or bad weather, you have to build recovery time into your forecast. 10. Schedule a regular "audit" of your account. Make sure your records and data are up-to-date. Put the upcoming holidays and suggested 'order by' dates on the calendar for next year (even if it's just in pencil). Has anything changed that needs to be communi- cated to your CSR? Randy Strang, vice president of Global Program Management at UPS, spent the major- ity of his career designing and implement- ing global supply chain strategies. He knows a thing or two about forecasting and several years ago suggested manufacturers ask the

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