Lancaster University

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LUMS Forecasting Success

07/31/2003 15:05:21

Lancaster University Management School is celebrating a major research sponsorship success. Professor Robert Fildes in the School's department of Management Science has secured a substantial research grant to work on forecasting systems for supply chain management.The grant has been awarded by the prestigious Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is worth over £100,000 to Lancaster University Management School. The collaborating partner is Dr Paul Goodwin, of the School of Management at Bath University, who is a former LUMS student.

The purpose of the research is to improve the effectiveness of Forecasting Support Systems, which are used extensively in supply chain planning. In 2001 the international market for these systems was worth $250M in the USA and UK alone.

Supply chain planning is wholly reliant on accurate forecasts in most industries and these forecasts are provided through Forecasting Support Systems (FSSs). Current evidence suggests that these systems are not used effectively so that large and costly errors are associated with the resulting forecasts.

The project will first involve an in-depth investigation of the causes of ineffective FSS use in organisations. It will then use a series of experiments to test the effectiveness of potential new design features on a prototypical FSS.

Professor Fildes commented,

'We expect, at the end of the project, to have developed a pro-forma set of recommendations to software providers on new features that should significantly improve FSS use and forecasting accuracy.'

'This is an ambitious inter-disciplinary project which has the support of two software companies and a number of major manufacturing companies. It is innovative both in the integration of the methods used (prototyping linked to simulation, laboratory and organisational research, psychological and statistical methods) and its field of application.'

'Those who will benefit most from this research are manufacturing organisations and their customers who will benefit from the availability of software that is designed to improve forecast accuracy and utilize down-stream customer information, leading to better supply chain performance.'

'The research will also help FSS providers who will be able to improve the design of their products by including features that improve forecasting accuracy and are acceptable to users, and finally research communities who have an interest in the multi-disciplinary strands of this research.'