Sales forecasting and workforce planning have become strategic tools for growing a business. However, it is important for every business owner to measure growth in relation to the bottom line. The increase in the number of customers or accounts must be commensurate to the growth in profit. Otherwise, the business is generating more work without value.
The overall goal of increasing profits cannot be achieved with the use of spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are really one step above pencil-and-paper projections. A business owner needs forecasting and scheduling software to integrate with existing point-of-sale platforms to generate real-time reports specific to a site or to a region.
The use of Zip Forecast and Zip Schedules will combine the tasks of forecasting sales with planning work schedules to ensure the proper personnel is in place at peak demand.
Let’s begin with workforce planning. The integration of Zip Schedules will enable the human resource department, or the shift manager, to strategically analyze and develop a work schedule as professionally as any business data analyst.
The goal of effective employee scheduling is to maximize productivity relative to the cost of labor. This efficacy alone will translate to a positive customer experience. This assured experience of the customer will extend to a progressive work environment for the employees. Quality employees are easier to retain when the workplace is supportive and engaging.
The effectiveness of planning the formation of the team and affecting a realistic schedule will produce lower labor costs at both the personnel and the management levels. Unplanned overtime and gaps in shift coverage will significantly reduce the burden on administration.
The first way to increase profits is to retain quality employees through effective scheduling.
Before one gets to the analytics, the forecasting software must be researched and chosen. The most important tool is the schedule builder. The administration department must be armed with scheduling software that is intuitive and user-friendly. The goal is to match the best-fit employees to shifts in a systematic way.
The scheduling template should allow for the drag-and-drop of employees into shifts. The platform should offer multiple views of a schedule for days, weeks and months. The software must have the ability to copy schedules forward to future time periods in a few clicks. There also must be the ability to view and compare the analytics for several teams at several locations at once.
Personalized information of all employees will make it easy to match the appropriate job roles with the shifts. This feature will aid the manager to assemble effective teams and assign projects.
Zip Schedules allows for collaborative scheduling and mitigates availability conflicts for the result in effective time management of the supervisors. The supervisors will be working smarter, not harder. A positive and engaging environment must also be experienced at the management level.
The second way to increase profits is to consider the time and productivity of management staff members to be the same as those at the workforce level.
A component of the analytics is the metrics. The metrics can be sales volumes, the number of visits, production data, the cost of goods sold or any combination of these. The revenue generated from a transaction against employee ratios and other contrasting metrics will aid in effective scheduling with a view of the associated costs.
The ease of this customization of the input metrics will expand the capabilities of forecasting. Most of this data should be imported from existing human resource applications or software.
The Zip Schedules software has the capability of compiling all inputs, applying algorithms based on key performance indicators to calculate precise staffing demands. When the key performance indicators are applied correctly, the output will increase profitability by modifying labor variables. The variables could be in the length of shifts, the assignment of projects, or the make-up of a team.
The supervisors will be able to monitor staffing trends in contrast with the generated revenue and the operating costs against the number of customers or clients. It will become obvious when to hire more employees or when to give part-time employees more hours.
A component of the cost of operations is the time spent at the management level, the highest of the personnel costs. All managers need to manage proactively, not reactively. The business will experience growth in its profits when those at the management level can focus on productivity and employee engagement rather than on the mechanics of creating work schedules.
The third way to increase profits is to provide the managers, or the supervisors responsible for the planning of a work schedule, with the proper tools to effectively perform.
Sophisticated labor planning is here with Zip Schedules, and it is affordable for small and start-up businesses. Data-driven scheduling will provide a competitive edge and increase profits. Every business owner wants all employees to work smart.
Zip Schedules, with its integration into existing payroll and human resource platforms, will enable a business owner to evaluate the timing of growth, the opening of new locations and the reducing of operating costs. The software will allow for the expansion of sales staff without the corresponding increase in administration.
Workplace forecasting allows businesses to support all employees in their quest for work/life balance. This is a game-changer for companies. If employee morale, at all levels, is improved, then turnovers are reduced. The company’s new-found reputation as the forward-thinking, flexible employer of choice in the market is priceless.
Effective workforce planning cannot happen without sales forecasting. While historical information is necessary, this information needs to be projected forward to conform to current market trends and the qualified market share. The entire processes of budgeting and workforce planning are hinged on thoughtful and timely sales forecasts.
Effective business management can be achieved with the integration of Zip Schedules and Zip Forecast.
The qualitative information for input into a sales forecasting application will be generated from either a company’s marketing or sales department. These forecasts are technical projections for consumer demand over a specific time horizon.
Sales forecasting involves the collection of hard, qualitative data and the application of judgment. Sales forecasting requires owners and managers to estimate volume, but to also determine the operating costs against the sales.
Zip Forecast has revolutionized the sales forecasting process. This application utilizes mathematical and statistical models for data analysis. These advances have made the process and the costs of forecasting affordable, practical and accessible for small and mid-sized businesses.
The fourth way to increase profits is to assure good, relevant and reliable data for input.
Forecasting sales is a conditional process as a company prepares these projections prior to budgeting and workforce planning. A series of alternate plans can be extrapolated from forecasting data for changes or adjustments in capacity, promotional programs, and market activities. These changes may lead to re-pricing or changes in either the production schedules or inventory.
In order for sales forecasting to be accurate, owners and managers need to consider the following variables.
There needs to be a timeline long enough to establish trends both in the growth and the decline in sales. Sometimes, the trends of competitors are used if the company is relatively new. The Zip Forecast software will be able to recognize patterns that repeat to be considered “normal” and pattern variations to be considered “deviant.”
This factor is subjective as management needs to determine the company’s ability to react to the results of the sales forecast. It may be necessary to make changes in capacity, marketing methods, financing, and staffing to maximize profit potential.
Forecasting of the market position not only measures operations but the public’s perception and the quality of the customer or client base. These are also subjective measures for input to be aware of brand loyalty and to respond to promotional efforts.
An index needs to be created to determine a price-adjusted sales volume. At times, the changes in the dollar volume of sales do not correlate with the number of units sold.
A company also needs to measure trends from within. Seasonal and month-to-month variations may result in changes to a sales forecast if variations historically repeat. These adjustments occur in volume discounts during expected slow periods, exploring new territories or soliciting product and service ideas from existing customers. Social media platforms and apps prove an effective way to obtain, gauge and measure the responses of customers.
Software with the capabilities of data gathering and analysis will produce accurate results for these determinations by management.
The fifth way to increase profits is the company’s knowledge of the market, current trends, and the public’s perception.
The variables listed above are the most subjective areas in forecasting; however, informed decisions still need to be made. The results of the analysis will affect the company’s strategic plan and the size and talent of the workforce.
Subjective data, when applied to the actual sales records, is the foundation to build upon when actual operating costs are applied.
Forecasting does not predict the future, but it forces the examination of the big picture of performance over future years. From historical trends, forecasting will provide an understanding of the customer base in both purchasing power and expectations.
Sales forecasting keeps the focus on the future and its direction. Understanding external market forces when applied to the internal forces, will provide a competitive edge. This edge can be communicated to the employees and may precipitate additional training for expanded services and products.
The future focus can be drilled back to today’s operations to prepare for any changes in strategy, product delivery, and staffing. Forecasting software can analyze the input and model possible outcomes.
The sixth way to increase profits with sales forecasting software is the maintaining of and the improvement upon market share.
A sales forecasting program will generate reports for the owners and the managers to ascertain when and from where the money is coming. These reports will be based upon the trends and from predictions in the pipeline, staging, sales cycles and the intuition of the sale representatives.
The purpose of forecasting is not predicting the future; it is the driving toward better business decisions when the subjective meets the objective.
A company with a 360° business plan is evidence of the company’s integration of software for workforce scheduling (the objective) and the software for sales forecasting (the subjective). Hence, the 360° plan. With the understanding of what future revenues may be relative to the market, the customer base and the trends, the alignment of sales and promotional efforts will be productive.
Labor forecasting and the scheduling of personnel will represent the complete diagnostic of operations. The reports generated from the software (whether weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually) will easily measure the accuracy of the forecasts. The owners and the managers will get a sense of where the company is headed, and whether this direction is in conformance with the strategic plan.
The end product of labor and sales forecasting is actionable insights.
The seventh way to increase profits with workforce planning and sales forecasting software is the ability to analyze the reports for actionable insights.
The overall goal with the integration of planning and forecasting software is the orientation of strategy and resources.
In summary, the seven ways to increase the bottom line of your company through the combination of scheduling and forecasting software are-
1. Retain quality employees through effective scheduling.
2. Consider and measure productivity at the management and the workforce levels.
3. Provide management with the proper tools to effectively produce work schedules and sales forecasts.
4. Assure qualifiable and relevant data for input.
5. Keep current on market trends and public perception.
6. Remain flexible to maintain and improve market share.
7. Keep an open mind when analyzing the reports for actional insights.
If the above seven points are adhered to in the scheduling of employees and the forecasting of sales, your company will be able to profitably implement its business plan. The integration of Zip Schedules and Zip Forecast into business operations will provide the tools and the insights needed for informed and impactful decisions.