The Physics Lesson No One Asked For

2021 Prophecy – Part 4

In case you missed our whitepaper “Service Supply Chain Prophecy: 2021 and Beyond” and our webinar of the same name, we want to offer a bit of each of our prophecies here in our blog.

According to Newton’s third law, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. 2021 will be a reaction of sorts to the events, and lack of events, in 2020. But this year’s demand reaction to the 2020 disruption won’t be one hundred percent equal or one hundred percent opposite. This means that looking back at past activities won’t necessarily provide a reliable depiction of what’s to come for businesses. Hopefully 2021 doesn’t include the socioeconomic hardships we dealt with in 2020, but planning is sure to be a challenge.

Almost everyone endured unprecedented conditions in 2020. For service-based companies that keep other businesses up and running, forecasting based on demand history alone will not cut it this year. When companies re-open offices and begin make use of their office equipment again, some of which may have sat idle for over twelve months, these pieces of equipment might not turn back on easily. This will require abnormal service interventions, causing one-time demand spikes that could challenge your demand forecasting model. This means that 2021 won’t look like pre-COVID 2019 demand patterns either. 2021 will be unique experience in field-service.

Organizations that typically rely on spreadsheets or historical-demand-based models in their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system may struggle to project reliable forecasts. Meanwhile, organizations that use advanced Service Parts Planning solutions with more flexibility and forecasting inputs will likely have an easier time adjusting and planning for whatever 2021 throws our way.

Advanced Service Parts Planning tools include features such as:

  • Trending
  • Installed base data
  • Causal factors (like machine use)
  • Failure-rate-based forecasting

In addition to the effective use of planning tools, each industry will need to rely on corporate projections, a bit of old-fashioned personal insight, and knowledge about their industry to determine how the new “normal” pattern of demand will unfold.

Act Now:

  1. Work with company management to understand the expected COVID recovery pattern for your organization and industry.
  2. Proactively manage demand forecasts to be aligned with that change.
  3. Don’t expect 2021 to look like 2019, or 2020.

For a deeper look at this prophecy, listen to our on-demand webinar. You can find summaries of our other 2021 predictions on this blog, too! Check out predictions one, two, and three.

Mike Ross
Director of Product Strategy

Mike Ross is one of our primary subject matter experts. He has been on the Baxter Planning team since 2000, currently as Director of Product Strategy. Mike works on new feature conceptualization, requirements, and product design.

For more than 20 years Mike Ross has designed, developed, implemented, and supported off-the-shelf solutions for service parts planning that have been used at over 100 companies in a broad range of industries, including telecommunications, medical equipment, energy, imaging, printing, and aerospace. Mike has led many service-parts implementation and consulting projects and maintains solid client relationships focused on continuing education and process improvement. And in 2014, he was named as a Supply Chain “Pro to Know” by Supply and Demand Chain Executive magazine.

Mike lives in the Rochester, NY area with his wife and three amazing kids, as well as a dog, three fish, a leopard gecko, and a hedgehog. Mike and his wife enjoy running 5Ks (slowly) in their spare time.