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Why Better Decision Making Starts With a Holistic Approach to Planning

Timing is everything—and few companies know this better than Citizen Watch America. When it comes to decision making around go-to-market strategies in particular, the company has found one approach that works better than others.

As is the case with all consumer products’ categories, if a brand picks up on a trend too soon, it risks outpacing the consumer. On the other hand, if a company jumps on board too late, the window of opportunity could close. For Citizen, finding the sweet spot all comes down to data—and collaboration.

In the Making Better Decisions Faster with Integrated Business Planning webinar last week, the watch company explained how it uses integrated business planning to time new product introductions and get the most out of existing core collections. The webinar was presented by Logility, which provides the supply chain management technology Citizen uses to handle its production and stay on track with trends.

The topic was geared toward an audience which, according to the pre-event poll, said the top strategic focus for their sales and operations planning initiative was driving performance and improving decision-making (42 percent) and synchronizing planning cross-functions (23 percent).

Glenn Pascrell, SVP of merchandise planning and marketing analytics at Citizen, said companies must foster greater collaboration between forecasting teams and management, sales, product development and merchandising.

The latest example of how this approach worked for Citizen was its move into smartwatches.

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“Forecasting starts with the market as a whole,” Pascrell said, adding that the company even used forecasting to help develop the smartwatches they eventually developed in alliance with Fossil. “We’re taking that information and using it to justify areas that we need to develop into as a brand, where there’s an opportunity for marketshare,” Pascrell said. Using Logility’s management system, Citizen was able to see which retail partners would be a good match for the smartwatch collaboration, as well as gain information on the product attributes from their classic watch offerings that would need to carry over into a smart watch model.

Pascrell also said Logility allowed his company to move beyond spreadsheets when compiling point of sales data, a critical development given the importance of understanding demand signals from the POS. “You need to get POS info into your planning system even if it’s a manual process,” Pascrell said, adding many forecasters leave this step out. “When the planner is looking at data and changing forecast, they need to see the sell-through.”

The idea is to take a more holistic approach to planning: one that touches all areas of the organization and draws on all available information.

Pascrell recommended that forecasting be an ongoing conversation between a brand’s planning team and executives, and advised audience members to be flexible and ready to make the best use of demand segmentation.

“Think outside your traditional role as a planner. Engage with the company,” Pascrell said. “You’re at the data center. Insinuate yourself into the planning conversation whatever way you can.”