Forecast, Supply, Demand, Recriminate

Some of our products are made exclusively for certain high-profile customers. In these kinds of arrangements, the customers are expected to forecast ahead of time what quantity of product they will need. The forecast does not have to be precise down the the last unit, but it does have to be in the right range by a hundred or so, because it can take a long time for all the necessary components to make their way from Russia, China, India, Korea, England, and Mars.

If the customer sells far more tools than anticipated, they will ask us why we are not sending them more product and what is taking so long. We will try to find a polite way to tell them that parts are harder to make than promises. If the customer does not go over the forecast and we are still unable to deliver the planned quantity for some reason–a quality issue, let’s say–than the customer will want to know what’s going on and why they shouldn’t order the next lot from our competitor. We will try to find a convincing way to tell them it will never happen again and to make up for it without making another committment that maybe we won’t be able to keep.

If both of these things have happened with regard to the same customer, only different products, then when the sales people who get paid for making promises talk to the production people who get paid for making tools–but not too many unneeded tools–then the marketing people will ask why we did not meet their unrealistic promises, and we will ask why they made promises that broke the rules for what we could keep, and then they will ask how they are supposed to make promises we can keep if we are aren’t going to keep the promise they made that did follow the rules. And the marketing people will suggest that we get closer, more reliable sources for our parts, and we will say we’d love to do that but we’d all get fired for choosing the higher-cost provider, and then the marketing people will say that’s fine we’ll just lose the customer. And people will use naughty words.

And then the people in charge of getting the components in here on time will ask me to put together reports showing how naughty the sales people were in placing and changing orders, and also on how bad we really did measured by the official and agreed standards versus the arbitrary sales promises. Also the people who are responsible for building the tools once the parts are available will point out and emphasize all the times when the tools were built but did not get shipped, so the plant manager will ask me to put together a report showing the specific reason why each item did not ship and also to fix the problems while I am at it. Most of those reasons will wind up being rules that people in another part of the business made about what days we can ship to what foreign countries and whether we can ship part of the order or must ship the whole thing at once, but none of that seems very relevant to the production people who just want to ship the hot potatoe.

Then I will tell everyone that I can make a report that will tell them anything about any order at any time, only it will take several days to complete. And my boss will say, “Good, have it done by lunch. Just kidding.” And I will wonder if he has any idea what size kid that is. And I will go back to my desk and there will be a message from one person wanting me to cancel an order that is in the process of shipping and a message from another person wanting me to ship an order today, urgently, for an important customer. Also there will be many more things like that so that at the end of the day, or rather half an hour after the end of my shift, when I am shutting down open programs, I will come across one and say “What is this?” And then I will remember, “Oh yes, that is the report I was supposed to finish before lunch. Well, tomorrow I will really concentrate on it.”



One response to “Forecast, Supply, Demand, Recriminate”

  1. […] _uacct = “UA-1202685-1”; urchinTracker(); Map of the Ethereal Land The Ethereal Voice Front Page – Politics – Money – Knowledge – Art – Food – Fun Masthead About Forecast, Supply, Demand, Recriminate By Chicken Man | October 14, 2007 – 1:12 pm Posted in Category: Front Page, Money Some of our products are made exclusively for certain high-profile customers. In these kinds of arrangements, the customers are expected to forecast ahead of time what quantity of product they will need. The forecast does not have to be precise down the the last unit, but it does have to be in the right range Click Here to continue reading. […]

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