Stability in the inefficient use of forecasting systems: A case study in a supply chain company

Robert Fildes, Paul Goodwin

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Computer-based demand forecasting systems have been widely adopted in supply chain companies, but little research has studied how these systems are actually used in the forecasting process. We report the findings of a case study of demand forecasting in a pharmaceutical company over a 15-year period. At the start of the study, managers believed that they were making extensive use of their forecasting system that was marketed based on the accuracy of its advanced statistical methods. Yet most forecasts were obtained using the system's facility for judgmentally overriding the automatic statistical forecasts. Carrying out the judgmental interventions involved considerable management effort as part of a sales & operations planning (S&OP) process, yet these often only served to reduce forecast accuracy. This study uses observations of the forecasting process, interviews with participants and data on the accuracy of forecasts to investigate why the managers continued to use non-normative forecasting practices for many years despite the potential economic benefits that could be achieved through change. The reasons for the longevity of these practices are examined both from the perspective of the individual forecaster and the organization as a whole.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1046
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Forecasting
Issue number2
Early online date24 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the anonymous contributors to this case study for giving their time to explaining the processes in the case organization. They would also like to thank researchers who were involved with aspects of the case at an early stage, Dr Stavros Asimakopoulos, Andrea Franco and Professor Konstantinos Nikolopoulos. The research was supported by grants GR/60181/01 and GR/60198/01 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), United Kingdom .


  • Actor–networks
  • Behavioural operations
  • Cognitive biases
  • Forecast adjustments
  • Forecasting support systems
  • Judgmental forecasting
  • Organizational factors
  • Task-technology fit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management


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