Summer is finally, FINALLY almost over. T-minus 13 days. Some people thrive in the summertime. The sun loves you; you get a nice tan and you probably mourn the loss of the warm summer days as we roll into autumn. Me? I spend the summer slowly melting into some nightmarish pile of sunburn, sweat, and melted cosmetics, feeling my sanity slowly slip away as my brain swells from the heat.
Since I am essentially down for the count, I found someone both cooler and more knowledgeable than me to write this month’s blog post. She also appears to be one of those people who’s down with this whole “summer” thing.
So take a few deep breaths and get your mind right, because Molly Howell’s going to give you a rundown of JDA’s most in-demand planning tools. Take it away, Molly.
The Fantastic Four: Superheroes of JDA’s Retail Planning Suite: Version 8+!
By Molly Howell, Senior Consultant
Ah summer! That time of year for sun, swimming pools, BBQ’s, blockbuster movies! For a few short months, TV programming quality takes a nosedive and Hollywood gets its chance to capture our attention and reactivate our imaginations with cinematic adventures, like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Inside Out, Minions, and The Fantastic Four. All these adventures push the limits of visual effects software to truly wow us, but long before Marvel decided to re-boot its longest running superhero team of four, JDA has had plans to also re-imagine their own fantastic four, the superheroes of their retail planning suite: Allocation, Enterprise Planning, Assortment, and Demand.
The aforementioned applications are now somewhere in their version 8+ ( with the exception of Demand, now available in v 9.0) releases, having had many years and numerous previous versions to perfect their respective infrastructure and now offer some amazing front-end capabilities and enhancements to clients. Here’s the rundown:
As of v 8.0, Allocation got a major overhaul in terms of the client and the WorkList. The biggest change was the Worklist summary. This update allows an allocator to group similar WorkList lines together and apply changes to the grouped line that then flow to all the lines in this group, saving the user a significant amount of time by not having to go line by line for things like applying a Method. Since 8.0, Allocation has received updates to the User dashboard, which allows allocators to have summary graphical views of their allocation and WorkList lines. They’ve made more types of tiles available, like Auto-Allocation and Status & Report Tiles. Some other enhancements include: Shape details in the WorkList, Display Min & Max on Worksheet, Usage Report, Auto Server, multiple time periods for multiple plan data collects, and many bug fixes!
Since March 2013, EP has been preparing for its summer blockbuster performance and it delivers in a huge way! We can now uncover the hidden power of the Dynamic Member Calculator, and we find out that not only does it have the ability to empower the planners to interactively define new calculated members in planning and analysis views based on mathematical formulas, but it now also has enhanced guided formulas and advanced modes to support infrequent and expert users. EP also gains the ability to export and import from plan to plan, and on top of that, calculated member can now be made plannable.
Additionally, the latest release of EP integrates exception definition and management directly with Planning and Analysis views. Building on this integration, they introduced Multi-Criteria Exceptions, allowing quick identification intersections meeting exception criteria across multiple measures, and In-View highlighting allows the planner to focus on those exception values. Another feature added was the Status Bar Calculations, which provide quick common calculations for select results. In addition to these wins for the Planners, many total cost of ownership improvements, like batch stability and PEM improvements, have been made to allow clients the best overall experience.
Almost as cumbersome as taking the garments and hanging them on the racks, the Assortment tool of the past has had a hard time keeping up with both the art and the science required for building an assortment for retailers. One might have reasonably compared its clunky earlier versions to Fantastic Four’s the Thing—until now. In 8.3, Assortment received a number of innovative features in the area of visual analysis, to the point that it has become exceptionally interactive, and has more “slice and dice” capabilities. This allows the user to make more informed decisions by providing capabilities like: sort, filter, or club together images on key product attributes like color, price, or location attributes, drill down to view more information for an image (like detailed sales and intake plan), or edit key attributes and other details and quickly edit item eligibility directly from the wedge view and plan per the new eligibility.
8.3’s also added Favorites Views, because, as with most analytic-heavy tools, users rarely analyze information the same way. Additionally, the same user might prefer to have multiple views of a report in order to analyze various different scenarios, for example, different views for sales, inventory, margins, etc., or different views for sales and receipt plan for t-shirts, dress shirts etc. These views can be private – i.e. specific to the user who created them, or public.
Given retailers’ increasing reliance on mobile devices and tools, JDA cleverly released the first mobile version of Assortment Planning. This version grants buyers and merchants the ability to take pictures on their mobile device and create placeholders. The placeholders are stored on a central server and the user will be able to view them the next time he or she logs into the tool from their laptop. Other enhancements include reporting and user interface enhancements to improve to look and feel of the application.
A little ahead of the curve, but rightly so, Demand is already in the 9 series of its releases and has some enhancements that should keep it on the leading edge statistical forecasting tools for clients in today’s omni-channel, customer centric world. One such enhancement is the Right Level to Forecast process introduced in the latest version. It is recommended to periodically review the current level of forecasting in a business hierarchy and compare it to the forecast accuracy goals. A manual comparison would consume an inordinate amount of time, not to mention could introduce numerous errors. However, this new automated process, Calculate Right Level to Forecast, was added to identify a right level to forecast for each member at the selected operating level, as well as a Right Level to Forecast page. The new page was added to view the results of the Calculate Right Level to Forecast process. The results are displayed in widgets and graph depicting key performance indicators, distribution of DFUs in the right level to forecast, and the gain in forecast accuracy for the operating level members. Other enhancements were made to JDA Slow Mover Forecasting and Replenishment, JDA Demand 360, Filters to view or edit a measure in Demand Workbench and Demand Worksheet, Dynamic Hierarchy control, Measure Maintenance, DFU Maintenance, NPI by Priority process, and the AVS-Graves and Moving Average algorithms.
JDA is also unifying the user experience across the retail planning solution – adopting a modern, consistent user experience that unifies retail planning workflows and accelerates user training as clients onboard additional retail planning capabilities.
So, while JDA’s fantastic four will probably never appear on the silver screen, to the retail planning world, they’re superheroes powering up their 8+ releases to help retailers synchronize cross functional business strategies, anticipate shifting consumer sentiments, align to supply chain constraints, and adapt to evolving omni-channel expectations.
Molly Howell is a merchandise planning and allocation ace. She has over a decade of experience working with leading retail technologies.
Thanks Molly, you’re the wind beneath our collective wings. Like, if there were a treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence, you could and would successfully steal it, just to protect one of America’s most important historical documents from Sean Bean (guess which movie I watched last night! You’ll never guess).