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Quantifying costs of forecast errors: A case study of the warehouse environment


  • Sanders, Nada R.
  • Graman, Gregory A.


Our study evaluates the impact of forecast errors on organizational cost by simulating a labor-intensive warehouse environment using realistic cost data from a case study. Unlike past studies that measure forecast error in terms of forecast standard deviation, our study also considers the impact of forecast bias, and the complex interaction between these variables. Two cases of organizational cost curves are considered, with differing and asymmetric structures. Results find forecast bias to have a considerably greater impact on organizational cost than forecast standard deviation. Particularly damaging is a high bias in the presence of high forecast standard deviation. Although biasing the forecast in the least costly direction is shown to yield lower costs, sensitivity analysis shows that increasing bias beyond the optimum point rapidly increases costs. 'Overshooting' the optimal amount of bias appears to be more damaging than not biasing the forecast at all. Given that managers often deliberately bias their forecasts, this finding underscores the importance of having a good understanding of organizational cost structures before arbitrarily introducing bias. This finding also suggests that managers should exercise caution when introducing bias, particularly for forecasts that inherently have large errors. These findings have important implications for organizational decision making beyond the simulated warehouse, as high forecast errors are endemic to many labor-intensive organizations.

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  • Sanders, Nada R. & Graman, Gregory A., 2009. "Quantifying costs of forecast errors: A case study of the warehouse environment," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 116-125, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jomega:v:37:y:2009:i:1:p:116-125

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Taylor, James W. & Snyder, Ralph D., 2012. "Forecasting intraday time series with multiple seasonal cycles using parsimonious seasonal exponential smoothing," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 748-757.
    2. Kim, T.Y. & Dekker, R. & Heij, C., 2016. "The impact of forecasting errors on warehouse labor efficiency," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI2016-10, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
    3. Babai, M. Zied & Ali, Mohammad M. & Nikolopoulos, Konstantinos, 2012. "Impact of temporal aggregation on stock control performance of intermittent demand estimators: Empirical analysis," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 713-721.
    4. Goodwin, Paul & Fildes, Robert & Lawrence, Michael & Stephens, Greg, 2011. "Restrictiveness and guidance in support systems," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 242-253, June.
    5. Nikolaos Kourentzes & George Athanasopoulos, 2019. "Elucidate Structure in Intermittent Demand Series," Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers 27/19, Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics.
    6. Acar, Yavuz & Gardner, Everette S., 2012. "Forecasting method selection in a global supply chain," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 842-848.
    7. Ali, Mohammad M. & Boylan, John E. & Syntetos, Aris A., 2012. "Forecast errors and inventory performance under forecast information sharing," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 830-841.
    8. Syntetos, Aris A. & Zied Babai, M. & Gardner, Everette S., 2015. "Forecasting intermittent inventory demands: simple parametric methods vs. bootstrapping," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 68(8), pages 1746-1752.
    9. Arora, Siddharth & Taylor, James W., 2016. "Forecasting electricity smart meter data using conditional kernel density estimation," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 59(PA), pages 47-59.
    10. Mirko Kremer & Enno Siemsen & Douglas J. Thomas, 2016. "The Sum and Its Parts: Judgmental Hierarchical Forecasting," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(9), pages 2745-2764, September.
    11. Trapero, Juan R. & Kourentzes, N. & Fildes, R., 2012. "Impact of information exchange on supplier forecasting performance," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 738-747.
    12. Costantino, Francesco & Di Gravio, Giulio & Patriarca, Riccardo & Petrella, Lea, 2018. "Spare parts management for irregular demand items," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 57-66.
    13. Önkal, Dilek & Zeynep Sayım, K. & Lawrence, Michael, 2012. "Wisdom of group forecasts: Does role-playing play a role?," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 693-702.
    14. Van den Broeke, Maud & De Baets, Shari & Vereecke, Ann & Baecke, Philippe & Vanderheyden, Karlien, 2019. "Judgmental forecast adjustments over different time horizons," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 34-45.
    15. Germán Rubio Guerrero, 2017. "Perspectiva multivariante de los pronósticos en las pymes industriales de Ibagué (Colombia)," Revista Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Militar Nueva Granada, vol. 25(2), pages 25-40, September.
    16. Petropoulos, Fotios & Goodwin, Paul & Fildes, Robert, 2017. "Using a rolling training approach to improve judgmental extrapolations elicited from forecasters with technical knowledge," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 314-324.
    17. Yavuz Acar, 2014. "Forecasting Method Selection Based on Operational Performance," Bogazici Journal, Review of Social, Economic and Administrative Studies, Bogazici University, Department of Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 95-114.


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