Forecast Pro User Conference

October 2-4, 2017 • Boston, MA


Overview

The Forecast Pro User Conference is a content-rich event designed to help you get the most out of Forecast Pro and to improve your forecasting. All of the conference sessions—including Forecast Pro demonstrations, user case studies, tutorials, panels and networking events—focus on “real life” business scenarios and problems while offering practical solutions that you can implement in your own organization.

We’ve purposely structured the conference to be an intimate event with a maximum of 60 users so that you can make valuable connections with other Forecast Pro users. This is your opportunity to understand how other forecasters use the software, to discover how they’ve solved problems similar to those that you face and to compare notes on forecasting practices.

Schedule

The preliminary 2017 agenda is shown below. We will revise the schedule
as sessions are finalized, so bookmark this page and check back for the latest updates.

Monday, October 2 Understanding the Methods in Forecast Pro (optional full day workshop)
Tuesday, October 3
9:00 - 9:30 a.m. Forecast Pro: Past, Present and Future Eric Stellwagen kicks off Forecast Pro User Conference 2017 by sharing his tips for getting the most out of the event and by revealing how you can influence the future direction of Forecast Pro—both while at the conference and beyond. As CEO, Co-founder of BFS, and Co-author of Forecast Pro, Eric has unique insights about Forecast Pro which he will share in this presentation. You will hear how Forecast Pro has changed in response to clients’ needs, learn about the new features introduced in the latest product releases, and discover his vision of how Forecast Pro will continue to evolve in response to the changing forecast landscape.
9:30 – 10:30 a.m Unleashing the Power of the Override Grid Over the past few years, the Override Grid in Forecast Pro has evolved from a tool for entering forecast adjustments and comments—allowing you to collaborate with colleagues to establish the final forecasts—into a full-fledged customizable worksheet facility. Now that you can import external information, define calculated rows and specify alternative baseline forecasts in the Override Grid, you have the power and flexibility to create custom worksheets for planning and S&OP purposes. In this session, James Berry will show you how to unleash the power of the Override Grid. Topics include:

  • ▪ Working with external data such as inventory or open orders.
  • ▪ Working with alternative forecasts. These forecasts may be generated internally from other groups within your organization—such as sales, marketing or finance, or be provided by outside partners—such as customers or distributors.
  • ▪ Using tokens, operators and functions to define calculated rows.
  • ▪ Formatting your worksheets.
  • ▪ The rounding algorithm which is useful for low-volume forecasts where traditional rounding results in biased forecasts. He will demonstrate how it keeps track of the “remainder” (rounded amount) and applies it to the next period’s forecast value.

Using examples, James will demonstrate how you can take advantage of the advanced capabilities in the Override Grid to design customized planning and S&OP worksheets to get the specific information you need to make better, faster decisions.
Coffee break
11:00 - 12:30 p.m. Tracking Forecast Accuracy: The Key to Improving Your Process A common goal among virtually all business forecasters—including Forecast Pro users—is to improve the forecast processes within their organizations. The first step in reaching that goal is to monitor performance to know what is working and what isn’t. If your organization is unable to assess the accuracy of its current process, how can you improve it?
In this session, Eric Stellwagen demonstrates how to implement accuracy tracking in Forecast Pro as he reviews:

  • ▪ the differences between within-sample and out-of-sample errors
  • ▪ approaches to measuring forecast error
  • ▪ the pros and cons of popular accuracy measures
  • ▪ how exception reports can streamline the review process

You will leave with an understanding of why tracking forecast accuracy is critical to improving your process, how to implement it in Forecast Pro, and the additional benefits it provides including:

  • ▪ insight into expected performance
  • ▪ the ability to benchmark your performance
  • ▪ a mechanism for spotting problems early on
Lunch
1:45 - 3:15 p.m. Forecast Pro User Case Study
Coffee break
3:30 – 4:30 p.m Visualizing Your Data to Gain Deeper Insight and Make Better Decisions
4:30 – 4:45 p.m. Wrap up
Cocktail reception
Wednesday, October 4
9:00 - 9:15 AM Opening remarks
9:15 - 10:45 a.m. Forecast Pro User Case Study
Coffee break
11:00 - 12:30 Leveraging Forecast Pro’s Reporting Capabilities Throughout Your Forecasting Process
Lunch
1:45 - 2:45 p.m. How do I...? We’ve all been there when using software, whether it is Forecast Pro or another application. One or both of the following occur:

  • ▪ You are able to accomplish an important task, but it seems to require more steps and/or take more time than it should—you suspect that there must be a better way.
  • ▪ You are trying to get something done using the software and know that it has to be possible, but just can’t quite figure out how to do it.

When these situations arise, you may wish that you had instant access to experts who would quickly answer your questions and get you on the right path. While that is just a dream in a normal day-to-day environment, at this session you will have Forecast Pro experts at your fingertips!
You will be given the opportunity to submit questions to a panel of Forecast Pro experts beforehand as well as to query them directly during the session. Here are some sample questions that the panel might address:

  • ▪ How do I customize the override grid to accomplish…?
  • ▪ What’s the best way to integrate Forecast Pro with…?
  • ▪ How do I display…?
  • ▪ My team creates forecasts that need to be reviewed by several groups in the company. How do I structure…?
  • ▪ How do I calculate…?
  • ▪ I seem to spend a lot of time formatting my output. What’s the easiest way to …?
3:00 – 3:20 p.m Concluding remarks
Conference concludes at 3:30 p.m.
Monday, October 2 Understanding the Methods in Forecast Pro (optional full day workshop)
Tuesday, October 3
9:00 - 9:30 a.m. Forecast Pro: Past, Present and Future
Eric Stellwagen kicks off Forecast Pro User Conference 2017 by sharing his tips for getting the most out of the event and by revealing how you can influence the future direction of Forecast Pro—both while at the conference and beyond. As CEO, Co-founder of BFS, and Co-author of Forecast Pro, Eric has unique insights about Forecast Pro which he will share in this presentation. You will hear how Forecast Pro has changed in response to clients’ needs, learn about the new features introduced in the latest product releases, and discover his vision of how Forecast Pro will continue to evolve in response to the changing forecast landscape.
9:30 – 10:30 a.m Unleashing the Power of the Override Grid
Over the past few years, the Override Grid in Forecast Pro has evolved from a tool for entering forecast adjustments and comments—allowing you to collaborate with colleagues to establish the final forecasts—into a full-fledged customizable worksheet facility. Now that you can import external information, define calculated rows and specify alternative baseline forecasts in the Override Grid, you have the power and flexibility to create custom worksheets for planning and S&OP purposes. In this session, James Berry will show you how to unleash the power of the Override Grid. Topics include:

  • ▪ Working with external data such as inventory or open orders.
  • ▪ Working with alternative forecasts. These forecasts may be generated internally from other groups within your organization—such as sales, marketing or finance, or be provided by outside partners—such as customers or distributors.
  • ▪ Using tokens, operators and functions to define calculated rows.
  • ▪ Formatting your worksheets.
  • ▪ The rounding algorithm which is useful for low-volume forecasts where traditional rounding results in biased forecasts. He will demonstrate how it keeps track of the “remainder” (rounded amount) and applies it to the next period’s forecast value.

Using examples, James will demonstrate how you can take advantage of the advanced capabilities in the Override Grid to design customized planning and S&OP worksheets to get the specific information you need to make better, faster decisions.
Coffee break
11:00 - 12:30 p.m. Tracking Forecast Accuracy: The Key to Improving Your Process
A common goal among virtually all business forecasters—including Forecast Pro users—is to improve the forecast processes within their organizations. The first step in reaching that goal is to monitor performance to know what is working and what isn’t. If your organization is unable to assess the accuracy of its current process, how can you improve it?
In this session, Eric Stellwagen demonstrates how to implement accuracy tracking in Forecast Pro as he reviews:

  • ▪ the differences between within-sample and out-of-sample errors
  • ▪ approaches to measuring forecast error
  • ▪ the pros and cons of popular accuracy measures
  • ▪ how exception reports can streamline the review process

You will leave with an understanding of why tracking forecast accuracy is critical to improving your process, how to implement it in Forecast Pro, and the additional benefits it provides including:

  • ▪ insight into expected performance
  • ▪ the ability to benchmark your performance
  • ▪ a mechanism for spotting problems early on
Lunch
1:45 - 3:15 p.m. Forecast Pro User Case Study
Coffee break
3:30 – 4:30 p.m Visualizing Your Data to Gain Deeper Insight and Make Better Decisions
James Berry, Director of Training
4:30 – 4:45 p.m. Wrap up
Cocktail reception
Wednesday, October 4
9:00 - 9:15 a.m. Opening remarks
9:15 - 10:45 a.m. Forecast Pro User Case Study
Coffee break
11:00 - 12:30 p.m. Leveraging Forecast Pro’s Reporting Capabilities Throughout Your Forecasting Process
James Berry, Director of Training
Lunch
1:15 - 2:45 p.m. How do I...?
We’ve all been there when using software, whether it is Forecast Pro or another application. One or both of the following occur:

  • ▪ You are able to accomplish an important task, but it seems to require more steps and/or take more time than it should—you suspect that there must be a better way.
  • ▪ You are trying to get something done using the software and know that it has to be possible, but just can’t quite figure out how to do it.

When these situations arise, you may wish that you had instant access to experts who would quickly answer your questions and get you on the right path. While that is just a dream in a normal day-to-day environment, at this session you will have Forecast Pro experts at your fingertips!
You will be given the opportunity to submit questions to a panel of Forecast Pro experts beforehand as well as to query them directly during the session. Here are some sample questions that the panel might address:

  • ▪ How do I customize the override grid to accomplish…?
  • ▪ What’s the best way to integrate Forecast Pro with…?
  • ▪ How do I display…?
  • ▪ My team creates forecasts that need to be reviewed by several groups in the company. How do I structure…?
  • ▪ How do I calculate…?
  • ▪ I seem to spend a lot of time formatting my output. What’s the easiest way to …?

3:00 – 3:20 p.m Concluding remarks
Conference concludes at 3:30 p.m.
Monday, October 2 Understanding the Methods in Forecast Pro (optional full day workshop)
Tuesday, October 3
8:45 - 9:00 a.m. Welcome
9:00 - 9:30 a.m. Forecast Pro: Past, Present and Future
Eric Stellwagen kicks off Forecast Pro User Conference 2015 by sharing his tips for getting the most out of the event and by revealing how you can influence the future direction of Forecast Pro—both while at the conference and beyond. As CEO, Co-founder of BFS, and Co-author of Forecast Pro, Eric has unique insights about Forecast Pro which he will share in this presentation. You will hear how Forecast Pro has changed in response to clients’ needs, learn about the new features introduced in the latest product releases, and discover his vision of how Forecast Pro will continue to evolve in response to the changing forecast landscape.
9:30 - 10:30 a.m. Tales from the Road: How to Get the Most from Forecast Pro
In his role as Director of Training and Senior Consultant at BFS, James Berry has worked with scores of Forecast Pro clients—not only teaching them how to use the software, but helping them to design, implement and improve their forecasting systems. What James has gained from this experience is a unique perspective on the practical challenges users face and how to overcome them—not to mention an impressive number of frequent flier miles! In this session, James will review the framework he developed to help clients create a roadmap of how Forecast Pro will be used within their organizations. He will share his insights on the common roadblocks that are encountered and tips for getting around them. Among the topics he will address are:

  • ▪ creating a forecast process
  • ▪ setting up hierarchies and data effectively
  • ▪ incorporating outside data
  • ▪ collaborating with others to establish the final forecasts
  • ▪ measuring and tracking forecast accuracy
  • ▪ gaining acceptance of the forecast within the organization

Coffee break
11:00 - 12:30 p.m. What Next? A Roadmap for Continuous Forecast Improvement
Forecasting experts advise that no matter how sophisticated—or basic—the forecasting process is in your organization, there is always room for improvement. They will tell you that on a regular basis, your team should assess the strengths and weaknesses of the current forecasting process and challenge itself to improve it. While the concept of continuous improvement sounds great, it isn’t always easy to step back from the process and take the broader view you need to figure out exactly what has to happen to reach the next level.
In this presentation, Eric Stellwagen shares a roadmap showing how successful forecasting processes evolve and explains the role that Forecast Pro can play in each step of the journey. His insight comes from what he has learned during nearly 30 years of consulting with a wide range of organizations to design and implement forecasting systems.
Lunch
1:45 - 3:15 p.m. Case Study: Implementing Forecast Pro TRAC across Caterpillar's Independent Dealer Network
In this session you will hear how Caterpillar Inc.— the world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment—is implementing an improved forecasting process with its independent dealers as a key initiative in its S&OP process. Getting an accurate picture of demand requires collaboration with Caterpillar Dealers who interact directly with customers and have critical insight into the state of the business.
So how did Caterpillar create and implement a forecasting process which relies on the participation of its independent dealers for success? Patrick DeShon, Americas Dealer Demand Senior Specialist at Caterpillar, will start by describing the landscape against which dealer forecasts need to be generated. Challenges include:

  • ▪ a product line composed of products which are inherently low-volume and high-dollar value
  • ▪ an independent dealer network, some of which are publicly traded companies and billion dollar     businesses in their own rights
  • ▪ inconsistent technical expertise across dealer forecasters
  • ▪ a lack of leading economic indicators that can predict demand
  • ▪ a customer planning horizon that does not typically extend into the supply planning window
  • ▪ an existing system based predominantly on a “group of experts” or a simple spreadsheet-based     comparison to demand history
  • ▪ an existing forecast “process” focused on collecting data rather than helping to create the actual forecast
  • ▪ the ability to measure forecast accuracy yet a lack of tools for improvement
  • ▪ the need to align bottom-up dealer-generated forecasts with corporate forecasts

Pat will then review Caterpillar’s Forecast Pro TRAC-enabled solution which addresses these challenges and is integrated into a SAP supply planning system across the North American Dealer network. He will discuss how they achieved “buy-in” from dealers which are not under Caterpillar’s direct control and the logistics for rolling out the solution across the network. You will hear how dealers were trained in waves with a combination of Web-based group training and individual coaching.
With 50% adoption rates and most of the dealer training completed in18 months, the initial metrics reveal that the program has been a success—those dealers who adopted the new tools and process showed better improvements in forecast accuracy. Pat will also describe the next steps, including: measuring success with the new tools; building continuous improvement into the process; documenting successes; supporting and growing a community of dealer forecasters and moving beyond the basics with maturing users.
Coffee break
3:30 – 4:30 p.m Unleashing the Power of the Override Grid
Over the past few years, the Override Grid in Forecast Pro has evolved from a tool for entering forecast adjustments and comments—allowing you to collaborate with colleagues to establish the final forecasts—into a full-fledged customizable worksheet facility. Now that you can import external information, define calculated rows and specify alternative baseline forecasts in the Override Grid, you have the power and flexibility to create custom worksheets for planning and S&OP purposes.
In this session, James Berry will show you how to unleash the power of the Override Grid. Topics include:

  • ▪ Working with external data such as inventory or open orders.
  • ▪ Working with alternative forecasts. These forecasts may be generated internally from other groups within your organization—such as sales, marketing or finance, or be provided by outside partners—such as customers or distributors.
  • ▪ Using tokens, operators and functions to define calculated rows.
  • ▪ Formatting your worksheets.
  • ▪ The rounding algorithm which is useful for low-volume forecasts where traditional rounding results in biased forecasts. He will demonstrate how it keeps track of the “remainder” (rounded amount) and applies it to the next period’s forecast value.

Using examples, James will demonstrate how you can take advantage of the advanced capabilities in the Override Grid to design customized planning and S&OP worksheets to get the specific information you need to make better, faster decisions.
4:30 – 4:45 p.m. Wrap up
Cocktail reception
October 4
8:45 - 9:15 a.m. Opening Remarks
9:15 - 10:45 a.m. Case Study: Optimizing a Demand Planning Process with Forecast Pro
In this session, you will learn how Forecast Pro TRAC can be used to optimize a demand planning process that is currently driven by a large-scale enterprise forecasting tool (such as SAP APO, JDA Manugistics, etc.). Drawing upon his extensive experience, Mark Chockalingam, Ph. D., Founder and President of Demand Planning LLC, will illustrate how his firm has helped clients integrate Forecast Pro TRAC to improve their processes and make them more efficient. He will walk you through techniques to address challenges faced in data extraction, data inputs, integration to the ERP tool, and finally collaboration and integration within the Supply Chain.
11:00 - noon Improving Forecast Pro Performance
Most users are satisfied with Forecast Pro’s processing time, particularly given the option to run the software as a native 64-bit installation on a screaming-fast PC. Nonetheless, if you are forecasting a very large number of items and/or operate in certain environments, speed may become an issue. In this presentation, James Berry, Director of Training and Senior Consultant at BFS, will share tips and techniques for improving Forecast Pro performance.
James will explain where bottlenecks may occur and demonstrate what changes you can make to improve performance. Among the topics that he will discuss are:

  • ▪ identifying performance issues when operating in a networked environment.
  • ▪ deploying “hidden” settings that can improve performance, such as using the manual override mode and purging the archive.
  • ▪ using Super Projects to keep individual projects at a practical scale.
  • ▪ understanding which features result in performance “hits” and how to make changes that minimize their impact.

Lunch
1:15 - 2:45 p.m. How do I…?
We’ve all been there when using software, whether it is Forecast Pro or another application. One or both of the following occur:

  • ▪ You are able to accomplish an important task, but it seems to require more steps and/or take more time than it should—you suspect that there must be a better way.
  • ▪ You are trying to get something done using the software and know that it has to be possible, but just can’t quite figure out how to do it.

When these situations arise, you may wish that you had instant access to experts who would quickly answer your questions and get you on the right path. While that is just a dream in a normal day-to-day environment, at this session you will have Forecast Pro experts at your fingertips!
You will be given the opportunity to submit questions to a panel of Forecast Pro experts beforehand as well as to query them directly during the session. Here are some sample questions that the panel might address:

  • ▪ How do I customize the override grid to accomplish…?
  • ▪ What’s the best way to integrate Forecast Pro with…?
  • ▪ How do I display…?
  • ▪ My team creates forecasts that need to be reviewed by several groups in the company. How do I structure…?
  • ▪ How do I calculate…?
  • ▪ I seem to spend a lot of time formatting my output. What’s the easiest way to …?

3:00 – 3:20 p.m Concluding Remarks
*schedule subject to change*

Workshop

Optional pre-conference workshop:
Understanding and Implementing the Forecasting Methods in Forecast Pro
Monday, October 2, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.



Many Forecast Pro users rely on the software’s Expert Selection mode to create forecasts automatically based solely on demand history and get excellent results. Nonetheless, most are able to improve their forecasts by customizing their approach, particularly in those instances where automation is less effective—such as when forecasting items with limited history, promoted items or new products.

This pre-conference workshop surveys the forecasting methods in Forecast Pro, explains how they work conceptually, reveals their strengths and limitations, and offers best practices for applying them in a business environment. The sessions incorporate demonstrations with Forecast Pro using real-world examples that apply best practices. You will leave the workshop with a working knowledge of the forecasting methods offered in Forecast Pro, enabling you to improve your forecast process and to get the most out of the Forecast Pro User Conference.

Workshop Agenda

  • At a Glance
  • Detailed Agenda
Introduction to Forecasting
Components of Data
Exponential Smoothing
Forecast Accuracy and Evaluation
Box-Jenkins (ARIMA) Models
Event-Index Models
Large-Scale Forecasting
New Product Forecasting
Introduction to Forecasting
A broad overview of business forecasting and its various uses within the organization. Topics include approaches to forecasting, features of data, the role of judgment, selection of appropriate forecasting methods for varied data sets and resources for forecasters.
Components of Data
An in-depth look at the different components found in time series data including trends, seasonal patterns, business cycles, trading-day variation, interventions (events) and noise. Discussion addresses the forms the components can take, spotting local vs. global components, interpretation of business cycle indicators and the use of the new custom components model.
Exponential Smoothing
A survey of exponential smoothing techniques with particular emphasis on the Holt-Winters family of models, Croston’s intermittent demand model and a new model designed to forecast items that exhibit significant volume only at certain times of the year. Topics include the pros and cons of using these models, when they are best used, how they work, identifying model components, parameter optimization and model diagnosis.
Forecast Accuracy and Evaluation
A detailed look at evaluating the accuracy of forecasting methods. Topics include the distinction between within-sample and out-of-sample errors, a survey of error measurement statistics, a summary of findings from forecasting competitions and an explanation of how to use both real-time tracking reports and simulations as predictors of model performance.
Box-Jenkins (ARIMA) Models
An exploration into the use of ARIMA models for business forecasting. Topics include the advantages/disadvantages of using these models, how and when they should be applied, automatic identification procedures and model diagnostics.
Event-Index Models
Event-index models extend the functionality of exponential smoothing models by providing adjustments for promotions, strikes and other non-calendar based events. This unit addresses how these models work, how and when they should be used, and how to customize their design to best suit your needs.
Large-Scale Forecasting
Approaches for focusing on critical items when forecasting large volumes of data. Topics include evaluating and forecasting SKU data, filtering and ABC (Pareto) classification, outlier detection & correction, exception reporting, and measuring accuracy across multiple time series.
Multiple-Level Forecasting
This section explores hierarchical forecasting techniques. Topics include discussion of the need for forecasting at various levels, product vs. geographical hierarchies, reconciliation strategies, top-down vs. bottom-up approaches, the use of proportional allocation and adjustment for seasonality.
New Product Forecasting
This session explores various approaches for forecasting new products. Topics include the pros and cons of different methods based on a product’s classification, and a review of popular methods including item supersession, forecasting by analogy and the Bass diffusion model.

Speakers


  • Eric.jpg

    Eric Stellwagen

    As the co-author of the Forecast Pro software product line with nearly 30 years of experience in the field of business forecasting, Eric Stellwagen is the ideal instructor for this workshop. Drawing upon his extensive consulting experience helping organizations to address their forecasting challenges, Eric regularly presents workshops on business forecasting and is widely recognized as a leading educator on the subject. Eric infuses his classes with practical approaches and uses real-world data to illustrate concepts.

  • /images/James.jpg

    James Berry

    In his role as Director of Training and Senior Consultant at BFS, James Berry has worked with scores of Forecast Pro clients— not only teaching them how to use the software, but helping them to design, implement and improve their forecasting systems. What James has gained from this experience is a unique perspective on the practical challenges users face and how to overcome them—not to mention an impressive number of frequent flier miles!

Venue

The Forecast Pro User Conference 2017 will be held at the Marriott Courtyard Boston Downtown, a landmark hotel located in the heart of Boston. Reduced hotel room rates of $299/night are available if booked by September 11, 2017. A limited of rooms are available so we encourage you to book your hotel room now online or by calling Marriott reservations at (800) 321-2211. (Note: when making reservations by phone, indicate that you are booking a room at the Marriott Courtyard Boston Downtown under the Forecast Pro User Conference Room Block to receive the discounted rate.)

If you would like to extend your stay to take advantage of all that Boston has to offer in the early fall season, a limited number of hotel rooms are available at the same rate of $299/night on the two days prior to start of the conference and the two days after the conference has ended. Please contact us if you would like to book a hotel room at the special rate during these extended dates.