Expand Your Data Sources to Improve Forecasting

November 21, 2016

As a business owner, forecasting is something you do naturally. Your company's past sales performance can certainly inform those decisions. Yet it's just as critical that you collect additional data when assessing your company's readiness for tomorrow.

Expanding beyond your tried-and-true sources can help you stay fresh in your forecasting, and even drive incremental business success. The key is gathering information from a variety of vantage points—such as point of sale (POS), demographic and social trends, and raw material costs, to name a few. Together, they'll give you a clearer picture of your company's challenges and opportunities than simple sales data ever could.

How to ensure that your data sources deliver accurate forecasting? Make sure it's:

Organized and obtainable. You need to know what you’re looking for and be able to find it. Personalize your data platform to reflect company interests and outcomes. Having well-organized data at your fingertips will prove useful when questions arise within any department. Sales personnel who are plotting future moves, for example, can benefit greatly from easily-accessible data related to trends, successes, and failures.

Useful and reliable. Spend time tracking data that makes a difference by asking the right questions and searching for relevant information when forecasting. Key to this is understanding your customer, the market, and their interaction. Check the pulse of consumer confidence and study details within the macroeconomic environment in order to anticipate potential outcomes.