An Introduction to Demand Forecasting in Microsoft Dynamics AX (Part 2)

In this second part of the demand forecasting blog series (click here to see part 1), we are going to generate the statistical baseline forecast out of AX and see how the rest of the forecasting process actually works.

Once we are done with configuration of the parameters, a statistical baseline forecast can be generated out of AX.

With the required configuration in place, we can actually run the baseline forecast. Go into the Master planning area page > Setup group > Demand forecasting folder > Generate statistical baseline forecast menu link. When we click the Generate statistical baseline forecast menu link, we will be presented with the following form. Use the Show more fields button to display additional definitions on the bottom.

This form is broken down into two sections.

In the Parameters section, we can specify the start and end date for historical horizon and also, enter the start date for the baseline forecast. Also, the Item allocation keys can be identified should the forecast select only a particular set of items. We will select the “D_Aloc” item allocation key for this example.

In the Advanced parameters section, we can specify the forecast bucket, forecast horizon and freeze time fence. If we want to forecast by month, select month from the Forecast bucket drop-down list. The Forecast horizon identifies how far the forecast will be extended from the baseline forecast start date. It will totally depend on the customer’s planning cycle. Click the OK button to generate the statistical baseline forecast in the form of an excel spreadsheet. The path to that demand forecast spreadsheet file is also specified in the Advanced parameters section of the form.

Once the generated statistical baseline forecast process is complete, proceed to the Master Planning > Setup group > Demand forecasting folder > Session log menu link, and click the Session log menu link.

Users can then make modifications to the forecast in Excel and publish it to the OLAP cube.

This will tell us whether the demand forecast has been successfully generated or not. It will also show the link to the Excel demand forecast file path where the Excel spreadsheet with the baseline demand forecast can be found.

Here we can see that the “D_Aloc” item allocation key has been forecasted for the next 12 months. The pivot table fields show the dimensions with which we can slice and dice the information presented in the Excel spreadsheet.

By selecting Product name and Released product dimensions under Released products on the PivotTable Fields, we can see the product name and item numbers assigned to the “D-Aloc” item allocation key and the forecast for the next 12 months.

Once we have the statistical baseline demand forecast generated, the changes can be applied. Making changes to the individual item level does change the number in the item allocation key aggregate level as well. Here is an example of a spreadsheet with modifications:

When we are done with making changes to the numbers, we can go to the Analyze ribbon bar > Calculations group > OLAP Tools button > What-If Analysis menu item > Publish Changes button. And that will save and publish the changes to the SSAS cubes.

Furthermore, AX can import the updated forecast numbers back into Dynamics AX and review forecast accuracy through KPIs.

We can now go about importing the forecasts into AX from the SSAS cubes at  Master planning area page > Periodic group > Demand forecasting folder > Import forecast.  

In this Import forecast form, we can specify the forecast model ( (link to 1st blog).  to go out to the forecasting cube and start loading the forecasts. Follow Master planning area page > Periodic group > Demand forecasting folder > Session log, where  demand forecast has been imported back to AX as shown below.

Now that we have imported the adjusted demand forecast back into AX, please validate the adjusted forecast values. There are two ways to accomplish it. The first is by going to the Inventory management module and the second is by going to Product information management module.

For the first method, proceed to Inventory Management area page > Periodic group > Forecast folder > Entry subfolder > Item menu item.

Finally in the demand forecast form, find the updated numbers from the forecast with changes, which was imported back into AX.

For the second method, go to Product information management area page > Common group > Released products menu item, and filter for the item number D0003 in the Released products form. Follow to the Plan ribbon bar> Forecast group > Demand forecast button to find the forecasted demand on the product. It will provide the same Demand forecast form as above to find the required information.

Check out the next blog in this series to see how the information covered in Part 1 and Part 2 fits into Master Planning in Dynamics AX. Click Here for Part 3!

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