SYSPRO: Forecasting and Inventory Optimization for Small & Mid-Sized Businesses, Part II

In Part I, we covered the inventory forecasting solution for SMBs contained in the new SYSPRO 6.1 solution suite, which is built on the Microsoft .NET platform and which is (tightly) integrated with Microsoft Office and other Microsoft products. We concluded that the forecasting solution, which allows you to create forecasts and the product family / grouping level as well as the SKU level, is quite robust and extensive for an SMB offering, as well as being quite easy to use, and left off noting that it provides the foundation for a true inventory optimization solution that is newly available from SYSPRO in SYSPRO 6.1.

Today we’re going to cover their new inventory optimization solution. Since I am assuming you read my recent posts on the Basics of Inventory Management and the Basics of Inventory Optimization, I’m not going to repeat them and dive right into an overview of the SYSPRO product.

The SYSPRO inventory optimization solution starts with a forecast and current stock levels, your storage (warehouse) network, and your inventory policies and produces an optimal inventory plan that will minimize your inventory requirements, and, thus, your corresponding inventory costs. The key to optimizing your costs in the SYSPRO tool is the definition of an appropriate inventory policy for each product family and/or SKU and the accurate definition of relevant warehouse information regarding stock levels and associated costs.

For each product family and/or SKU, you define the lead time, any necessary gross requirements or batching rules, the economic batch (order) quantity, and any maximum inventory levels (by count, value, or volume). In addition to these basic inventory policies, you can also define more advanced “risk” policies, using the distribution algorithm of your choice (normal, poisson, etc.), if you are forecasting a family or SKU where demand can be highly variable. And for each warehouse, you define, at a minimum, the cost and UOM cost, the stock on hand (available, and free, if different), in transit, allocated, and on (back) order. When this is combined with a forecast and a time period is defined, the system is able to compute an optimal suggested inventory plan by SKU and individual warehouse location. It can then become your draft inventory plan as-is, or you can manually alter it first. Once the draft plan is accepted, it becomes the new, current, inventory plan.

And since the module is tightly integrated with the forecasting module, it’s easy to go back to a forecast, revise it, and return to the inventory plan. (For example, if you simply click on the selected forecast in the inventory optimizer, up pops the forecast module.) And once you have an optimized inventory plan, you can immediately jump into the MRP (Material Resource Planning) module which will take the inventory plan (and the forecast it is based on), the sales order, WIP (Work In Progress) data, and other associated information and produce a raw material requirements plan if you also have the association material planning information (either in SYSPRO or another ERP or database you connect to).

Finally, between the integrated Crystal Report Writer, it’s support for VB scripting, and its direct Excel integration, you can product just about any report you want (although it might take some work on the part of the developer if it isn’t a report that’s already in, or similar to what’s already in, the system). As for getting data in, the system can accept CSV, XML, and SQL database scripts (as the schema is exposed). In summary, SYSPRO provides a solid forecasting and inventory optimization offering for SMBs.

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