October 30, 2020

Accurately Forecast Inventory Needs Using a Custom Plug-in

Business Case:

Effective inventory management is critical for fulfilling customer demand. For businesses, inventory shortage means revenue loss. To maintain high fill rates (measure of demand satisfied by inventory on hand), businesses need an effective inventory management system.

Prior to our solution, our client, a global technology company, was manually forecasting inventory needs. To generate forecasts, inventory planners collected data from multiple sources and performed calculations in Excel. The manual system was time-consuming and resulted in forecasts populated with stale data. In partnering with us, our client’s goal was to improve forecast efficiency and accuracy with an automated data collection tool.

Key Challenges:

  Automate data collection  
  Minimize technical skills required to use the tool  
  Enable access for teams across geographies  

Our Solution:

We created an Excel plug-in that enables our clients to update on-hand inventory, confirm incoming orders, and forecast orders.  

Figure 1: Solution Design

The Excel plug-in is an executable registry file that runs on C# Office JavaScript. The plug-in sources data from multiple locations and optimizes the data’s format for Excel. Planners can log in to Excel from any location and their alias and role are identified through SQL mapping. Planners receive a custom list of stock keeping units (SKUs) based on their access type. Role-based access enhances security and prevents order error. 

When in the Excel spreadsheet, planners simply need to update on-hand inventory and confirm incoming orders. The plug-in automatically displays the forecast number, enabling the planner to order new inventory.  

Business Outcomes:

Our Excel plug-in automates data collection and improves forecast accuracy. The solution’s plug and play functionality ensures users of any skill level can access and operate the tool. Our solution enhances security and accountability with role-based access, preventing order error.  

With more accurate forecasts, our client avoids over-order costs and ensures they meet customer demand.


    Designed an Excel plug-in that enables our clients to accurately forecast orders
    Enabled efficient inventory ordering to minimize stockouts
    Minimized technical skills required to use the tool

Forecasting inventory is critical for fulfilling customer demand. So how do you forecast demand? Check out how machine learning accurately forecasted our client’s sales