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Applying Contemporary Forecasting and Computer Technology for Competitive Advantage in Service Operations

T.S. Lee (The University of Utah)
Steven J. Feller (Price Waterhouse)
Everett E. Adam Jr (University of Missouri‐Columbia, USA)

International Journal of Operations & Production Management

ISSN: 0144-3577

Article publication date: 1 May 1992


Applies time‐series forecasting, a traditional operations analysis methodology, to develop a forecasting procedure and ordering policy for a natural‐gas customer of Columbia Gas of Ohio, USA. Evaluates six time‐series methods and four operating policies against four commonly used measures of error and the cost consequences of error to the customer. Demonstrates that time‐series forecasting and decision theory developed by operations and applied in an actual industrial situation can become a powerful marketing technique. Provides further insights into evaluating forecasting models and ordering policies, demonstrating that introducing optimal planned bias is a robust decision‐making/forecasting approach within services. There are three parts to the study. The first is a straightforward testing of forecasting methods, using the forecasts as the natural‐gas ordering policy. Results vary depending upon how well forecasts are fitted to the data. For example, one inaccurate forecast with a poor fit incurs a penalty cost of $179,270, while the best forecast results in a penalty cost of $27,081. The second part evaluates two additional complex ordering rules with the same forecasting methods, further reducing the lowest cost to $17,709. The third part is a technical analysis reflecting a redesign of the study, demonstrating the difficulty of generalizing when characteristics of the underlying demand change. Concludes that the best forecasting model/operating policy is to use the very basic forecasting model of simple moving average (or the equivalent, first‐order exponential smoothing) combined with an optimal planned bias ordering policy, i.e. with the planned introduction of bias.



Lee, T.S., Feller, S.J. and Adam, E.E. (1992), "Applying Contemporary Forecasting and Computer Technology for Competitive Advantage in Service Operations", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 12 No. 5, pp. 28-42.




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