The Imperative of Resource Demand Forecasting in the Pharmaceutical Industry 

In the ever-changing world of the pharmaceutical industry, effective and nimble management of resources is imperative. One of the key components of resource management is demand forecasting. Demand forecasting is the process of predicting the future demand for resources within a company. This can be by role, project, study, function, geography, etc. The key is not to make forecasting so complex that it is difficult to keep up with the dynamic organizational structure. Keeping the forecasting method just sophisticated enough to produce reasonable forecast accuracy is the secret sauce.

What Makes Resource Demand Forecasting too Complex?

Forecasting resource demand can be a challenging task, especially when dealing with a large amount of data. Even a single algorithm or forecast can struggle to manage this data overload. The complexity of the algorithms and the detailed calculations required for each task can make it hard to determine if the results are reasonable. If the estimates seem off, it’s tough to pinpoint the issue due to the data’s complexity. You might wonder if the added complexity is worth it, especially if it only improves accuracy by 5%. In fast-changing industries like pharmaceuticals, the answer is often no. Therefore, finding the right balance between complexity and understandability is key in resource demand forecasting.

The Need for a Consistent Demand Forecasting Process for Resource Management

Imagine a resource management meeting where managers are armed with their own unique methods for forecasting resource needs. Some rely on experience and gut feeling, others use data they’ve mentally accumulated, and some use Excel and data to calculate resource needs. The result? A meeting filled with differing assumptions and methods, all trying to answer the same question: How many resources do we need?

This scenario is all too common, highlighting the need for a consistent demand forecasting process. When everyone utilizes the same method, managers can use the same data set to have meaningful discussions and make the best decisions.

A consistent method brings several benefits. First, it eliminates the time spent arguing about the forecasting process, freeing up time to discuss other important factors. These include risk factors and the complexity of projects, which often get overlooked when the focus is on the forecasting process.

Second, a consistent method ensures that everyone is on the same page. This reduces confusion and miscommunication, leading to more efficient decision-making.

Finally, a consistent method provides a clear framework for forecasting. This allows for more accurate predictions, leading to better resource management.

A consistent demand forecasting process is not just a nice-to-have but a necessity for effective resource management. It ensures that everyone speaks the same language, allowing for more productive discussions and better decision-making.

Key Components of a Formal Demand Forecasting Process

In the world of resource management and project management, a formal demand forecasting process is like a well-oiled machine. It’s a process where everyone is in sync, working towards a common goal. Here are the key components that make this machine run smoothly:

  1. Unified Source: Everyone uses the same source for timelines and list of projects. It’s like having a single playbook for the entire team.
  2. Consensus on Calculation: The forecast isn’t a wild guess. It’s a calculated prediction that everyone agrees upon. This includes the method of calculation and the data used, such as the number of sites, patients, and therapeutic areas.
  3. Regular Data Updates: Data is updated at specific times each month to keep the machine well-oiled. This ensures a clean close at the end of the month and the production of up-to-date reports.
  4. Agreed Reports: A set of reports is agreed upon for making resourcing decisions. This ensures everyone is making decisions based on the same information.
  5. Simplicity is Key:  While the process can grow more complex over time, the guiding principle is that simpler is always better.

By adhering to these key components, a formal demand forecasting process can be both efficient and effective. It’s all about teamwork, agreement, and simplicity. With these in place, your forecasting process will be a well-oiled machine, ready to take on any project that comes its way.

Implementing a Consistent Demand Forecasting Process

A consistent demand forecasting process is crucial in effective resource management. It begins with aligning your calendar with data updates, report production, and resource meetings to ensure everyone is working with the most recent data.

The group responsible for the resource management tool plays a significant role in this process. They should help resource managers understand how to use the tool in their resourcing decisions and meetings and ensure that the reports support the use cases around resource decisions.

When it comes to handling future scenarios, such as a future need for resources due to a planned but not yet approved study, the owner of the resource management tool and the resource managers should discuss how to handle these scenarios.

Agreeing on key principles is another important step. For instance, starting to hire six months before a resource need. These principles will guide managers when making decisions.

The tool owner should also coach the resource managers on scenario planning for situations like speeding up a project or acquiring a company or asset. Finally, training everyone on how to handle these scenarios according to the agreed key principles is essential.

By implementing a consistent demand forecasting process, you can ensure that everyone is prepared, no matter what the future holds. This process will guide the team in situations with high variability in outcomes, leading to more effective resource management.