Autostock Inventory Planning Workbench

Autostock Functions & Why you need them

The simple planning routine consists of:
1. Load current data from host
2. Open planning workbench and select vendor to review
3. Run auto-planning function to calculate purchases
4. Review purchase quantities and apply manual adjustments to forecast or purchase quantities if required
5. Export purchase order file to business system
6. Release purchase orders to vendors
Large numbers of items can be planned across multiple sites by one person quickly and efficiently leaving time for other high value activities such as improved forecasting, supplier development and new product sourcing.
Set a planning date for your purchase calculations.
Usually this is today, but you may be planning a large import shipment that may take a few days to get internal approval before you can finalise the order. You can set the planning date to a future date to take this into account.

Also – everyone goes on holidays, so you may want to prepare purchase orders in advance to cover your holidays. OK, this is not as good as actually being there because you can’t react to things that happen whilst you’re away, but if no one is going to take over, or you need to lighten the load for the poor fellow doing your job as well as their own, you can at least keep most things under control.

​Set planning parameters for purchase frequency, customer service level, lead time, safety stock, minimum order quantity and pack size. These may be set in Autostock or updated from the business system if the data is available.
Autostock has been designed to work with your business system as the source of data, but if your accounting system is better at accounting than inventory management, all the parameters you need can be held in Autostock.
​Set your planning frequency.
Most businesses are settled into a pattern of purchasing their inventory from a vendor in a particular cycle, such as every Wednesday or monthly on the third week of the month. Autostock allows you to specify the normal period between purchases so that you order enough to last between orders.

You can set your purchase frequency by item so that you can purchase C class items (the small, low volume, low cost items that have little impact on inventory investment or warehouse space) less frequently to reduce the receiving workload on the warehouse.

The more frequently you purchase the less stock you will hold. This is one of the primary planning levers you pull to reduce your inventory investment and warehouse space usage, increase stock turns and improve cash flow. Autostock makes inventory planning easy, so a big impediment to purchasing more frequently (i.e. the time taken up in planning and purchasing) is removed.

Set your desired customer service level to optimise safety stock.

Any salesperson will tell you that you can’t sell it if it’s not in stock when the customer needs it. All items have variable demand patterns and in order to make sure you don’t run out during a peak in demand you carry some safety stock. How much you carry can be calculated based on the historical variability in your demand and what level of stock outs your customers will accept.

Autostock allows you to set a Customer Service Level or percentage fill rate for your customer orders so that you will have enough safety stock to fill demand peaks. This is typically set between 85%-98% depending on the criticality of the product.

Set your safety stock manually if desired.

​​If your sales demand history is poor or non-existent (e.g. new products) you can enter a quantity of stock you want to keep as a minimum and Autostock will plan accordingly.

Set your inbound lead time.

The inbound lead time is the time from placement of order to when the stock will be available for sale so you will need to include any normal warehouse processing time. Lead times are set at the item level. For multi-site businesses the lead time is set at the item/site level. Vendor and item lead times will be maintained in the business system if supported or may be held in Autostock.

Set the purchasing pack size.

The pack size or order lot size will ensure you purchase in full cases, pallets or layers according to your vendor requirement or desired purchase unit.

Set the minimum order quantity.

The minimum quantity of an item you need to buy from a vendor. If you have minimum order value requirements from vendors, you will see this in the order totals window on the workbench.

​Quickly apply filters to select items to plan.

Usually you plan your inventory by vendor but you can plan at any level you wish such as item category or ABC class.

​Customise what data you see in fixed and planning period columns according to how you like to plan.

You have a lot of control over how data is presented to you in the Inventory Planning Workbench so you can focus in on just a few items or see everything.

​See totals by period for stock and planned purchases.
• Quickly see the impact of planning strategy on stock holding over future periods up to 13 months into the future.
• Review planned spend and stock value by period to help manage cash flow.
• Review planned purchases by value to hit vendor minimum order requirements.
• See order totals for weight and volume to plan container or truck loads.

Autostock doesn’t restrict you to planning your inventory just for the next period, it plans 13 periods ahead so you can see the impact over the long term of your purchasing strategies. Let your team know just how their forecasts are going to affect the business investment in inventory. Let your warehouse manager know the likely future storage requirements so they can plan ahead.

Review the sales history of an item over previous 2 years and the forecast for the next 12 months as you check your inventory plan.

This is perfect for quick sanity checks as you review your orders.

Key in overrides to the forecast and recalculate the purchase quantity or simply override the purchase quantity to adjust your planned purchases.

Auto-calculation is great and takes the hard work out of planning, but sometimes you just need to add a bit more for the sale next month you only just heard about, or sales for an item just died and the forecast is now wildly optimistic. It’s nice to know you have full manual control when you need it.

​Keep track of override decisions and planning issues with item comments.

Supply or sales issues can be very dynamic, keep your notes and reminders in the comments field so you remember what happened next time you plan an item.

​See the inventory levels at other sites before you commit to buy so you can create a transfer instead of purchasing.

Why buy when you already have the stock somewhere else in your system? This is also a great way to bring down overstocks as you leverage sales in one area to consume the overstock at another site.

​Add demand from satellite warehouses or retail stores to the central DC to calculate centralised purchasing and replenishment transfers.

Most multi-site operations will have some centralised purchasing and re-distribution. Autostock’s DRP module adds site replenishment functionality. Equally applicable to retail store replenishment as it is to replenishing warehouses.

The DRP module is an optional extra cost module. Pricing varies by the number of sites.