How many times does this happen in your company? You go to a meeting about sales performance, and marketing says it thinks sales are up 3.5 percent. But the merchants disagree and say sales are up 6.3 percent. The specific numbers in this example aren’t important; the point is the two figures aren’t close. And that’s the reality in most companies today.
Here's another example: Management has tasked you with developing a report. Your first step is to look back at prior results, maybe from a season or two ago. How many different versions of the sales, purchase and inventory plans are there? Which ones are the actual and which were prior versions?
Some might say we can do a better job controlling and eliminating versions of plans, which is certainly true and something every company should work toward. Or that if we use only one enterprise system, we can eliminate this dilemma. But that isn’t really the solution; such systems aren’t viable for most companies. Plus, there are multiple data elements that are all valid for whatever processing system is used. There just isn’t a “single version of the truth,” one official set of figures for sales, inventory, plan, history and so forth.
Take a product’s inventory, for example. You can find sales plans on user-derived Access systems or Excel spreadsheets. A product’s inventory on hand in units and dollars is tracked on your order management system. A separate, best-of-breed warehouse management system also includes the same product on hand but needs to be synced up daily. The finance system also carries the total company inventory in dollars — probably not updated in real time, but daily or weekly. You also may have a specialized, stand-alone forecasting and inventory management system to project inventory by promotion or catalog campaign.