The Problem With Flowcasting

Flowcasting has been previously described as “The Holy Grail of demand-driven supply chain planning.” But just what is it exactly? “Flowcasting the Retail Supply Chain”, a book published in 2006, presents a series of techniques that were intended to revolutionize the retail industry. In this episode of LokadTV, we learn a little more about this concept and debate why a technique that was published in 2006 is still of interest today.

This theory presents a lot of interesting ideas on paper, but when it was used it apparently didn’t live up to expectations - here we try to understand why. We discuss how well flowcasting works in practice and try to comprehend exactly why and how it fell apart when actually implemented.

The root causes seem to be linked to issues and missing insights that still persist within the supply chain industry today, so many will be doomed to make the same mistakes unless they can learn from them. We look at how the tool relates to what we do here at Lokad with Envision, our own in-house programming language, and we examine just what were the good insights that Flowcasting provided at the time.

Finally, we take a closer look at whether flowcasting actually had the right vision and was just ahead of its time, simply lacking some of the mathematical and technological expertise required to really make it work. At the end of the day, supply chains are incredibly complex and there are simply no silver-bullet solutions, which is something that no amount of buzzwords can change.