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 optimisation 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 competent application.
ToolsGroup in everything that it does is very focused on what is known as stochastic modelling. This means modelling 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 indices. A fractional value below 1 for indices, such as in October, (.80), brings the forecast down – a fractional value above 1 for indices, 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 its 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If the selected item supersedes another item (i.e., it assumes the demand of the superseded item in addition to its own).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displays both the original demand for the selected item (solid green bar) and the acquired demand associated with the superseded item (green perimeter with no fill): the superseded demand.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 most significant 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 me to demonstrate a basic concept about forecasting, which is what an excellent 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 does not exist in any other supply chain forecasting application.
All scores out of a possible 10.
Vendor and Application Risk
ToolsGroup SO99 faces 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 the 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.
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