MUFI Rating & Risk – ToolsGroup SO99 (Forecasting)
MUFI: Maintainability, Usability, Functionality, Implement ability
Vendor: ToolsGroup (Select For Vendor Profile)
ToolsGroup is a software vendor that is mostly known for its inventory optimization and multi echelon planning software for supply planning. However, while less known for the forecasting functionality that is part of their SO99 product, it is a very capable application.
ToolsGroup in everything that it does is very focused on what is known as stochastic modeling. This means modeling in a way that represents the variable nature of reality. This comes across in their forecasting application and is on display in the following screenshot.
Most forecasting applications have a single line representing the forecast. ToolsGroup’s S099 application produces a range of values indicating the probabilistic nature of the forecast. This is a very innovative concept and gets people thinking of a forecast as not a single value.
ToolsGroup has a very nice seasonality management functionality, which allows a seasonality index to be created, which helps adjust the forecast up or down based upon the indice. A fractional value below 1 for an indice, such as in October, (.80), brings the forecast down – a fractional value above 1 for an indice, such as February, (1.03), brings the forecast up. Some forecasting applications have similar functionality. However, ToolsGroup regularly displays a combination of ease of use long with a high degree of sophistication.
Lifecycle Planning in ToolsGroup SO99
Supersession is the substitution of one product for another product. In lifecycle planning, this often takes the form of phasing out one product and replacing it with a newer version. Seeing the demand for both products in an integrated way is one of the challenges. ToolsGroup has made this very clear in their user interface, which is why I wanted to include them in this section.
ToolGroup can show both the phased out product, and the phased-in product on the same screen. See below, and notice the transparent portion of the block graphs.
If the selected item supersedes another item (i.e., it assumes the demand of the superseded item in addition to its own), the demand bar on the graph displays both the original demand for the selected item (solid green bar) and the acquired demand associated with the superseded item (green perimeter with no fill): the superseded demand. – Kristen Nordstrom, ToolsGroup
ToolsGroup SO99 and Lumpy Demand
Of the vendors I have analyzed, probably the one (that does not specialize in service parts) with the greatest focus on demand intermittency is ToolsGroup. This is consistent with ToolsGroup ‘s orientation towards detailed planning, as is demonstrated in the screenshot below:
Notice that with ToolsGroup, the lumpiness shows in the demand history. However, the future lines in purple and blue are very long. This is called the prediction interval, which is the range over which a forecast is likely to fall. On a lumpy product like this one, notice how broad the range is when compared to the more predictable demand pattern below:
The more predictable item has a smaller range of values. It is inherently more forecastable. ToolsGroup’s interface allows to me to demonstrate a basic concept about forecasting, which is what a good user interface should be able to do.
ToolsGroup’s SO99 is a forecasting application for companies that are very serious about forecasting. It takes a different approach in some of the areas, and a good fit for ToolsGroup implementations will be companies that buy into the ToolsGroup vision. Some of the functionality in ToolsGroup SO99 for forecasting do not exist in any other supply chain forecasting application.
All scores out of a possible 10.
Vendor and Application Risk
ToolsGroup SO99 faces the similar issues of the more heavyweight forecasting applications, which is one of being overwhelmed with the available functionality. Overall the SO99 application is well designed, and it has some productivity-enhancing features ranging from how it performs lifecycle planning to substitution and supersession. The SO99 user interface is of good quality easing user adoption. Users must become acclimated to the concept of probabilistic forecasts.
Likelihood of Implementation Success
This accounts for both the application and vendor-specific risk. In our formula, the total implementation risk is application + vendor + buyer risk. The buyer specific risk could increase or decrease this overall likelihood and adjust the values that you see below.
Finished With Your Analysis?
Brightwork Forecast Explorer for Error Calculation
Improving Your Forecast Error Management
Did you know that most companies don’t know what their forecast error is? If a company knows an error percentage but not the interval or the aggregation level measured, that means they don’t know. Most forecasting applications make getting a weighted forecast error extremely difficult. That is why we developed a SaaS application that allows anyone to find out their forecast error with a simple file upload.
The Brightwork Forecast Explorer is free to use in the beginning. See by clicking the image below:
Software Selection Book
Enterprise Software Selection: How to Pinpoint the Perfect Software Solution Using Multiple Sources of Information
What the Book Covers
Essential reading for success in your next software selection and implementation.
Software selection is the most important task in a software implementation project, as it is your best (if not only) opportunity to make sure that the right software—the software that matches the business requirements—is being implemented. Choosing the software that is the best fit clears the way for a successful implementation, yet software selection is often fraught with issues and many companies do not end up with the best software for their needs. However, the process can be greatly simplified by addressing the information sources that influence software selection. This book can be used for any enterprise software selection, including ERP software selection.
This book is a how-to guide for improving the software selection process and is formulated around the idea that—much like purchasing decisions for consumer products—the end user and those with the domain expertise must be included. In addition to providing hints for refining the software selection process, this book delves into the often-overlooked topic of how consulting and IT analyst firms influence the purchasing decision, and gives the reader an insider’s understanding of the enterprise software market.
By reading this book you will:
- Learn how to apply a scientific approach to the software selection process.
- Interpret vendor-supplied information to your best advantage. This is generally left out of books on software selection. However, consulting companies and IT analysts like Gartner have very specific biases. Gartner is paid directly by software vendors — a fact they make every attempt not to disclose while consulting companies only recommend software for vendors that give them the consulting business. Consulting companies all have an enormous financial bias that prevents them from offering honest advice — and this is part of their business model.
- Understand what motivates a software vendor.
- Learn how the institutional structure and biases of consulting firms affect the advice they give you, and understand how to properly interpret information from consulting companies.
- Make vendor demos work to your benefit.
- Know the right questions to ask on topics such as integration with existing software, cloud versus on-premise vendors, and client references.
- Differentiate what is important to know about software for improved “implement-ability” versus what the vendor thinks is important for improved “sell-ability.”
- Better manage your software selection projects to ensure smoother implementations.
- Chapter 1: Introduction to Software Selection
- Chapter 2: Understanding the Enterprise Software Market
- Chapter 3: Software Sell-ability versus Implement-ability
- Chapter 4: How to Use Consulting Advice on Software Selection
- Chapter 5: How to Use the Reports of Analyst Firms Like Gartner
- Chapter 6: How to Use Information Provided by Vendors
- Chapter 7: How to Manage the Software Selection Process