Process Overview

This page provides basic explanations of what forecasting entails, along with brief indications of how the TimeTrends forecasting system responds to the needs of its users.

Introduction to Forecasting

Forecasting is a process of using various tools and techniques to anticipate the amounts and/or values of future sales of products and services. It is not a measurement of a known quantity, but an attempt to combine historically observed patterns with known influencing events to come up with a "most educated guess" as to what the future holds.

Forecasting is therefore a decision-making and planning activity, fundamentally different from most measurement activities. It is constantly focused not on what has happened but on what might happen. Our job is to minimize forecast error rather than pretend that they don't exist. Our challenge is therefore to set up software systems as well as processes of information flow that allow everyone to get closer to the desired benchmarks of (verified) accuracy.

Forecasting is a subject increasingly under scrutiny as corporations look to improve their business processes and profitability. As the business world becomes ever more competitive, many organizations have found that better forecasting directly benefits their bottom line.

TimeTrends and Your Management System

The TimeTrends solution is a progressive forecasting and management information solution.

How we stand out…

The predominant benefit of the TimeTrends solution lies in its powerful and versatile Forecasting Engine and its ability to support the various elements of the customer's systems. Given that there are no two identical management information systems, TimeTrends can be much more than just a premium forecasting engine. Because of its virtually unlimited fields and tables, it can enhance other elements of a customer's IT system.

…where we fit in:

TimeTrends System Integration

Forecasting / Enterprise Forecasting

TimeTrends Forecast Warehouse
This software package is the heart of our premium forecasting system, offering configurable features and attributes that promote efficiency, accuracy, and productivity in the forecasting process. Five versions of the TimeTrends Forecast Warehouse are available:

  • For the Microsoft Access platform we offer the TimeTrends Forecast Warehouse Fundamentals, Intermediate, and Complete versions.
  • If you require an Enterprise-class solution, we offer the TimeTrends Forecast Warehouse Enterprise Editions for SQL Server and Oracle.

The TimeTrends Family of Solutions page summarizes the feature sets that are available for each version of TimeTrends.

Web Collaboration

This optional module permits automated input from field marketing / sales staff into the forecasting process using a Web browser. Its versatile design makes it adaptable to the customer's particular business environment and affords the security and checks and balances so necessary in an integrated system.

See the e-Forecasting page for more details.


Promotions Manager
This optional module promotes the refined management of a corporation's promotional activities. It is a versatile add-on to a TimeTrends Forecast Warehouse installation that allows you to easily track and calculate the effects of sales promotions with input obtained from anywhere in the world via the Internet. The Forecast Warehouse program accurately and efficiently manages seasonal and annual promotional activity through statistical analysis of historical data. However, where more sophisticated management of promotional activities is vital to the financial success of an organization (such as weekly promotions of perishable products, for example) then our configurable Promotions Manager becomes an indispensable tool for the organization.

See the Promotions Manager page for more details.

ABC Ranking

Early in the last century, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto developed what has become known as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule. Applied to business, this rule can be interpreted to mean that 80% of your business probably will be generated from 20% of your clients.

TimeTrends Automated ABC Ranking
The TimeTrends Automated ABC Ranking utility provides a thorough yet easy way to assign rankings as a batch process. The field(s) to use as the source, as well as the field(s) into which to store the ranking values are user-configurable through easy-to-use dialog box controls. Items can be sorted by either value or ordered Item count.

See the Automated ABC Ranking page for more details.


The Distributed Resource Planning (DRP) functionality of TimeTrends includes methodologies for calculating Safety Stock and systems to deplete or consume the forecasted requirements against existing inventory and open orders from suppliers.

TimeTrends Safety Stock
Safety Stock is an additional quantity of inventory intended to protect against fluctuations in supply or demand. It acts as a form of stock-out insurance. The TimeTrends Safety Stock module has been designed to allow system administrators to assign Safety Stock parameters (minimum and maximum periods, and service level) that the program can then use in its Safety Stock calculations. A few advantages of this module are that it can process many Items at once, and that it can be incorporated into a customer's database with minimal overhead.

TimeTrends Inventory Consumption
Inventory Consumption is the methodology by which existing inventory is consumed by the Forecast to pinpoint the date at which inventory will run out and, thus, inventory replenishment is required.

See the DRP page for more details.

TimeTrends Exception Management

Focus on Exceptions through Filters

The Item Filters (a type of Report) in TimeTrends were designed to be a flexible and efficient tool to help you, the forecaster, pinpoint and focus on the items (or groups of items) that are not performing according to the criteria that are most important to your business success.

  • Unlimited filters are available to limit the item list to only those exceptional items that require the forecaster's attention. The Filter drop-down window contains a list of the most recently used filters for quick access (configurable, default=15).
  • Filters can be as simple as "Location=10" to view only the items from the Pennsylvania warehouse or they can efficiently call queries that are stored in the TimeTrends database for much more complex item selection criteria.
  • Items can therefore be viewed based on criteria such as "Variance to actual above a certain level", "Actual Sales to Saved Forecast Variance", "Impending Stock-outs", "Excessive Safety Stock", etc.
  • These Queries are set up at implementation or as business rules are added to the forecasting process. They can be designed by the forecaster, the TimeTrends Administrator or ALT-C as desired. Generally there is very little work involved and most often this work ends up being performed by ALT-C as part of Customer Support.

Direct Access / Tools Menu / Query Integration

TimeTrends allows for the possibility of creating and running user-defined "tools" to, for example, update and report on safety stock / stock-outs by item or group of items.

The Tools | Query menu provides instant access to all of the user-defined queries that can be set up to affect only the currently selected group of items. Note that most queries can also be easily set up to run at a Product Family (or other item grouping) level.

There is a convenient toolbar that makes all commonly used functions readily available to the forecaster. These quick access functions include graphing, display of statistical measures, Item Browsing, Forecasting and so on. Complete context-sensitive help, that includes many "how-to" articles and interactive tutorials, is also available from the toolbar.

Other Productivity Features

TimeTrends Supercession
The optional Supercession operation supercedes or replaces an obsolete Item with a different Item that may or may not already exist.

S&OP Process
The ability of the TimeTrends system to maintain multiple forecasts (field, statistical, marketing, production, etc.) in various units of measure facilitates the often complex and Byzantine task of assembling a company's budget. The powerful reporting capabilities of TimeTrends allow it to track the forecasts against the actuals as well as the budget values. Because of this, the TimeTrends forecasting system fully supports the Sales & Operations Planning process, by allowing the user to "slice and dice" the information in any number of ways. For example, forecast accuracy (based on a wide array of available statistical measures and metrics) can be measured and even offset against lead-time.

Since each company's S&OP process is unique, participants in the S&OP process must see the information in a context (hierarchical level and units of measure) that is meaningful to them. The process also needs to store and compare several different metrics, some of which are not normally part of the forecasting process. Due to its inherent flexibility of design (multiple saved forecasts and multiple units of measure), TimeTrends is uniquely qualified to facilitate the corporate S&OP process, by allowing a company to customize both the analytical tools and, by extension, the entire S&OP process to its specific needs.

TimeTrends Executive Analysis Reporting
TimeTrends reporting capabilities are able to handle virtually any reporting activity that your process requires. Generally, the reporting process is controlled via a custom report "control panel" as shown below. This allows the forecaster to launch a "batch" of reports that can be printed, saved as SnapShots (possibly for local Intranet posting) or exported to Excel for further processing and analysis. The reports' underlying queries can also be used to feed downstream IT subsystems or generate HTML reports for Internet publication via Web server .asp pages. Report generation can also be set up as a scheduled batch job to run, for example, every night.

Sample TimeTrends
                Report Control Panel


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