Announcement: AWS Data and Analytics Competency Partner

Making the world more efficient with a world class cloud platform

Biarri continues to strive for excellence to deliver on our promise of making the world more efficient, as we are proud to announce that we have successfully been listed as an AWS Data and Analytics Competency Partner.

AWS Data and Analytics ISV Competency

“The AWS Competency Program validates and promotes AWS Partners with demonstrated AWS technical expertise and proven customer success.” – AWS Competency Program

Since partnering with AWS and joining the AWS Partner Network (APN), Biarri has been recognised for helping organisations solve complex problems. Biarri successfully demonstrated through our proven track record that we have a ‘deep expertise’ in solving complex data and analytics challenges for large scale organisations, as seen with Alliance and Schweppes

“Being accredited with the AWS Data and Analytics ISV Competency gives our customers confidence. Biarri are leaders in providing data analytics and predictive modelling, and this certification supports that. 

Evan Shellshear – Head of Analytics, Biarri. 

AWS Partner Network

Biarri is proud to be a part of the AWS Partner Network. At Biarri, we offer a suite of cloud based software to help improve businesses and organisations through the power of optimisation. With Biarri’s continual commitment to data privacy and security, partnering with AWS allows Biarri to leverage their market leading technology and cloud services.

Through leveraging AWS services, we have greater confidence in developing tools that align with our mathematical and analytical Biarri approach. AWS provides a platform that is not only quick but secure, giving our clients around the world assurance.

Our tools

Our tools are built from the ground up leveraging AWS services toolkit as part of the solution such as AWS EC2 to run the optimisation workloads, AWS S3 to store application information,  AWS PostgreSQL RDS to manage the workload data tables, AWS EKS to ensure a highly available and scalable workload, and AWS Elasticache to queue and manage tasks. Leveraging the AWS toolkit we were able to create a world class platform to assist our clients. 

If you would like to find out more about Biarri and our AWS competency reach out in the form below.

Get in touch

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4

reactive to proactive in supply chain with ai

From Reactive to Proactive in Supply Chains with AI

As companies move to using more data to help them make better decisions, they are often left with an uncomfortable feeling. This feeling has nothing to do with going outside comfort zones or changing the way of working, it is based on the fact that even after using the data many people feel like their questions still aren’t answered properly. 

And it is really common.

Research published in the Journal of Organizational Effectiveness People and Performance showed how more measurements, data and visualisation of HR processes lacked the ability to diagnose problems with business performance and lead to relevant and actionable insights. Our experience shows that this is not just limited to HR, it is across the whole business.

So why does this happen?

During COVID-19 (and even before it), supply chain companies around the world underwent significant digital transformations that led to the collection of more and varied data on all aspects of their businesses. To manage and understand this data, organisations invested heavily in BI tools such as Qlik, Tableau, PowerBI and more. Even though these tools are able to present good dashboards of the historic business operations, they haven’t produced revolutionary ways of doing business and, most importantly, they aren’t helping organisations deal with their most important challenge – the future.

From reactive to proactive

When businesses look at their dashboards full of data, they see patterns but are never 100% sure if they are real or not. In their historic data lies the answers to their future questions but how do we reveal them with confidence and precision? 

Where BI provides you with the review view mirror, AI (artificial intelligence) provides you with a well calibrated telescope of the future. By using advanced analytics, companies are able to go from reactive to proactive by statistically validating intuitions about the future hidden in their data to give decision makers the confidence to place bold bets and target ambitious goals – a step change in the way of doing business. Often what the analytics discovers are things you “knew” but now you have quantified them and can properly compute the effects of your decisions on your bottom line.

Those sectors that stand to benefit most from using AI go from reactive to proactive are where there exists high variability in inputs and processes or demand for outputs. For example, industries which use inputs from nature such as mining, resources and agribusiness need to be able to deal with natural variation in their inputs. Any company selling into markets with volatile demand also needs ways to deal with this challenge. 

And then there are a number of industries like logistics and agribusiness which face, and solve, volatility on both inputs and outputs.

How supply chains solve their predictive challenges

Biarri has worked with many logistics companies and agribusinesses to help them move from reactive to proactive. Instead of organisations harvesting crops or moving goods around trying their best to manage their volatility via inventory overcapacity, staff overtime and high wastage, they are now moving to scalable analytics with the business preemptively selling and optimising the expected yield from their crops, animals and delivery trucks. 

A good example of this is Alliance Group in New Zealand who use Biarri’s supply and demand management tool Wolf, which has allowed them to better allocate supply to demand and smooth out their production cycles while simultaneously increasing their profit margins by selling more high margin products in niche markets in a scalable and low effort way. During COVID, this tool allowed them to quickly respond to changes in volatile global and local markets managing both high volatility on the input side (lamb sizes and grades) to the high volatility on the outputs side (COVID lockdowns drastically affecting demand). 

In addition, moving to proactive can have other surprising benefits. Work Biarri has done with Australia’s largest grain exporters shows how a proactive view can reduce storage requirements, lower labour costs as well as save energy – let alone better serve their customers more confidently. Although not always the goal of predictive tools, the ancillary benefits can sometimes outweigh the initial business goals.

Why we all must do this

In moving to proactive thinking via advanced analytics companies are not only improving their bottom line and making better decisions, they are improving local and global markets. By smoothing out supply and demand, market volatility reduces and creates a better business environment for all. The benefits of this accrue to society via a better management of our resources leading to lower prices and higher living standards for all. 

Moving from reactive to proactive via AI tools allows businesses to disrupt their current markets in a scalable way. Not only can you look around corners to know what is coming next, you can do it in a scalable way. Reach out to Biarri now to find out how.

Speak to an expert

Biarri S&OP Agribusiness

Leading to Greener Pastures with S&OP in Agribusiness

From the paddock out west to the head office in Brisbane, to the dining room table in Beijing. The journey of farmed products isn’t always as seamless as they seem with the supply of harvest and livestock products. Producers face challenges in managing crops and livestock, battling tough environmental factors, and competing in volatile markets. Identifying the best markets with the greatest margins remains one of the greatest challenges that producers in agribusiness face, until now. This blog will explore the shortfalls of ‘textbook’ S&OP and the limitations it can have for agribusiness, and will also give you an insight into how you can mitigate these challenges with the correct solution and tool.

 
For agribusinesses, the endeavour to maximise returns within a dynamic marketplace can largely fall on the shoulders of one or a few, generally executing a standard S&OP process through legacy systems or a single spreadsheet on Excel. Their experience is vital as they understand not only the business’ production and processing capability, but also they understand their customers’ demands and the parameters they need to be delivered.

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) is a business management process that aligns supply chain functions to enable executives to make the best financial and business decision

As markets continue to diversify internationally and demand for quality farmed products increases, agribusinesses need to make decisions based on natural resource variability and market volatility to receive the greatest return on their product. But in the current climate, can those producers rely on textbook S&OP to make the most informed decisions? How in this modern global market can agribusinesses remain sustainably profitable

Let’s take a closer look.

Textbook S&OP  

With significant (and growing) complexity in agribusiness supply chains, a standard S&OP process is often propped up by the experience and expertise of a ‘seasoned agri veteran’. For years, this individual may have filled gaps in a standardised process with deep knowledge of business idiosyncrasies and strong intuition in addressing supply or demand changes. The decision-making process and the framework these decisions are made upon go beyond the capability of a standardised sales and operations plan. 

Relying on one or two individuals limits sustainable success and reduces time spent on valuable activities like contingency planning. Future-proofing your businesses success is reliant on contingency planning by implementing systems and processes that automate decision-making, removing the burden and pressure placed on key individuals

Forward selling 

The unpredictable nature of ‘harvest’ and ‘livestock’ farming is a prime example of why agribusiness requires a more flexible approach to S&OP. Take for example a meat producer; supply dictates the number of different SKUs available, which is an administrative nightmare to reconfigure and coordinate when market demands shift.

The unpredictable nature of supply has ramifications on the sales front with overselling and not being able to fulfil agreements. The flow-on effect can be critical to a businesses reputation and jeopardise relationships. 

So, how can businesses change their approach and move away from the conventional way of ‘commodity selling’ and have more control over their supply and sales and increase the value-add of their products at the same time? 

Simple – move towards ‘Forward selling’. Forward selling creates synergy across sales, supply and production by knowing the exact number of products there is available to sell at a point in time and negotiating contracts accordingly. I.e. move from reactive to proactive.

Are we on the same page?

While it is important to consider the correct approach to S&OP, it is just as crucial to have a system and tool to support it. Too often businesses are stuck with a static excel spreadsheet or a dated enterprise business application that requires a huge amount of effort to maintain and use effectively.

 We’ve experienced a real appetite for producers to better leverage their data to make more informed forward looking decisions. There is a shift in the industry from reactive selling to proactively ensuring Australia’s high value agricultural products get the premium they desire, not languishing in the supermarket budget section

Jonathon Allport – Agribusiness Analyst

A spreadsheet or enterprise application can sometimes be effective in keeping a business running, but the slow and static process brings other challenges and issues. One of the shortfalls of these systems is the inability to conduct what-if scenario modelling or to adjust to new and later opportunities. Comparing options and finding the best outcome becomes difficult, and business decisions have to be made from limited information and modelling.

Having the correct data but not being able to compare options can have large financial ramifications and can result in a loss of opportunities due to poor decision making.

Let’s look at a concrete example of how this can be done with a modern tool

A new way with WOLF

Wolf is Biarri’s modern web based tool that bridges agribusiness sales and production planning, making decisions quicker and easier with a quantitative model. This approach and tool was applied with one of the world’s largest producers of lamb and mutton and can also be applied to all types of agribusiness.

Allinace S&OP in Agribusiness

Alliance Case Study 

In such a fast moving and volatile market place, making the right decision consistently, is difficult with the  instability in demand, production and logistics. Alliance faced this common agribusiness challenge, and they required a system and approach that improved their day to day sales and production process to cope with their high production volumes.

Alliance Group is the world’s largest processor and exporter of mutton and lamb, representing over 15% of  the world’s cross-border trade. Its facilities process over 87 Million lamb and sheep per annum, exporting to 65 countries, and they produce over 1,200 products. 

“Being able to plan and maximize returns within our dynamic market place has always been challenging, so when we talked with Biarri about developing a new optimization model with more scenario modelling capability we could see the potential of planning with confidence that every variable had been optimized to minimize cost and maximize revenue within our market plan.

The team at Biarri were quick to understand the variables within our planning process and have developed a platform that enables us to react to the moving market conditions with confidence.”

Craig Spence, Marketing Accounting & Administration Manager, Alliance Group

Before coming to Biarri, Alliance solved its S&OP problems with some advanced mathematical modelling in Excel. After using this tool for a number of years, it was realised that it simply wasn’t enterprise grade lacking proper governance, user control, historical data audits, data lineage and much more. It was at this point that they came to Biarri and Biarri introduced them to Wolf.

With the integration of Wolf and a new optimization model, Alliance were able to achieve:

  • A reduction in planning effort, with trivial decisions being automated giving time and effort back to high priority tasks;
  • Greater control through visibility. Alliance had an unprecedented levels of visibility, arming key stakeholders with greater control over their meat sales and production planning activities. The increased level of transparency allowed for faster and smarter sales and production decisions through scenario modelling;
  • Increased revenue through identifying optimal product mix. Production and sales team could now plan and select the right option with confidence, knowing that Wolf had optimised every possible variable to minimise cost and maximise revenue.  

Want to know more?

Speak to an expert today and discover how you can better manage natural variation and market volatility below. 

Speak to an expert


Route planning

Lead the way with the right route planning tool for you and your business


Introduction

Navigating through last-mile delivery offerings can be a daunting task, as you figure out which route planning software tool is the most applicable for your team, your business operation needs and budget. When considering Scopta’s Run and Route planning software, there can be a range of important factors to consider, such as:

  • Finding the best tool to reduce your operational costs and improve your bottom line;
  • Purchasing the necessary functionality to streamline current business planning and supply chain management,
  • Identifying gaps within your current operations that could benefit from an automated software solution, as you seek to make technological advancements,
  • Selecting the correct route planning tool that has the capacity to deal with your business intricacies and complexities, such as delivery windows, drop off specifications and vehicle compatibility.

As you work through the finer details of other route planning software providers, understand Scopta’s Run and Route and take a look through our customer profiles to see which one best aligns with you and your business.


Customer Type Summary

Customer ProfilePain Points and Challenges
General ManagerReducing operational costs Managing day to day to operations
Vice President of Logistics and PlanningMeeting customer demand and ensuring a safe and smooth operation Supply chain management and refining processes
Digital Transformation ManagerImproving business processes through AI solutions Simplifying and streamlining procedures
Delivery Schedule PlannerCreating a efficient delivery schedule that meets customer demand

Are you a General Manager?


Scopta’s Run and Route’s first customer profile describes General Managers of medium to large sized LPG Gas Distributors (1000+ employees). They hold a management position within the organisation – and are charged with overseeing the day to day service and deliveries of their distribution centre. With broad industry experience and academic qualifications, this GM drives strategy and performance across his business in revenue growth, cost reduction, operational efficiency and customer experience

As business and demand continues to grow so does the business’s costs; mindful of their bottom line and an eye into the future, they seek for alternative options that can aid the delivery scheduling team in being able to meet their customers’ needs by making deliveries on time and on demand, and reducing the man hours spent on creating schedules through old hand method ways like excel and google maps.


Does this sound familiar? If so, our Run and Route tool helps solve the above challenges by creating an optimal and efficient set of routes, reducing drivers’ travel distance and accelerating the delivery process.

Are you a Vice President of Logistics and Planning?

Aligned closely with the General Manager, Scopta’s Run and Route next profile holds an executive role within the company and leads the logistics and planning functions. Tasked with ensuring the quality, efficiency and scalability of the supply chain, the Vice President of Logistics and Planning is constantly looking for systems, processes and technical solutions to gain and maintain competitive advantage

Overseeing the supply chain processes of a large distribution centre of a goods company, they take a great deal of interest in business processes and delivery outcomes and performance, with a desire to stay at the forefront of the industry. Taking a measured approach to how best to improve the service and delivery of their goods, they are on the constant lookout for solutions that can streamline the planning of delivery schedules and achieve efficient and cost effective planning

Open to technology advancement, they see the implementation of a route planning software program as a great advantage for route planning for more efficient delivery schedules. 
Does this sound familiar? If so, our Run and Route tool helps solve the above challenges by being market leaders in route optimisation, and being a functional and agile tool that simplifies the way you plan and deal with last minute adjustments.

Are you a Digital Transformation Officer?

With an eye to the future and a strong understanding of current business operations, our next profile looks to advance the company through digitalisation and with the integration of  artificial intelligence. As a key decision maker with a background in information technology, they are motivated by efficiency and productivity, constantly looking to refine and improve streamlining supply chain processes. With a view to automating and digitising where possible, the Digital Transformation Officer sees potential to improve the last-mile delivery planning process, which currently involves a mixture of data sources, manual processes, online mapping tools and excel spreadsheets.  This results in labour intensive processes, a lack of optimisation, barriers to scalability and key personnel risk. 

The Digital Transformation Officer plays a vital role in the continual refinement of these practices, looking to streamline their processes through optimisation as they look for the best route planning software for their business requirements. 


Does this sound familiar? If so, our Run and Route tool helps solve the above challenges through automated route planning solutions. Streamline the way your team plan and organise their trucking fleet, with a single tool containing all the functionality your team needs to deal with your business requirements.

Are you a Delivery Scheduler Planner?

Last but not least, the Delivery Scheduler. They have the critical role of planning the routes and delivery schedules for their 20+ trucking fleet. Equipped with nothing more than a spreadsheet, an online map and vast experience (perhaps having been a delivery driver themselves), they spend the better part of their week organising delivery schedules. 

Motivated by meeting customers’ demand and ensuring deliveries are completed, there are many variables and barriers that they face. Dealing with the complexities of considering delivery windows, driver availability, infrastructure and truck requirements and specific load types, all while making sure delivery schedules are ready by the first delivery is a time-consuming and extremely difficult task when completed by hand. 

Perhaps a route planning software tool could help?

Does this sound familiar? If so, our Run and Route tool helps solve the above challenges through its powerful optimisation engine. Be enabled to do more with a centralised system that deals with complex scenarios and variables, ensuring that you produce not only an error free delivery schedule but an efficient and cost effective set of routes.

Speak to our team now based on your above persona

If any of the following profiles or challenges resonate with you and your business, please reach out to one of our team members to discuss how Scopta Run and Route can assist, using the below contact form. 


With a strong understanding of the constraints and challenges last mile delivery and route planning entail, the team behind Scopta Run and Route are dedicated to working along side you to improve your business processes and route planning through automation and optimisation.

Run and Route Contact Form

Biarri Workforce New Feature Release: July Edition

With the end of the Financial year coming to close, and as Businesses continue to adjust to our new normal, the team behind Biarri Workforce continue our commitment to improve and simplify workforce rostering and planning. With our users in mind, our development team has updated and created additional functionality to equip you the user with the necessary tools to improve the way you:

  • View KPI’s and create reporting for exporting;
  • Manage your employees work schedules across multiple rosters 
  • Improve visibility of rosters when planning with simplified user interface functionality and
  • The way employers manage employees fatigue and qualification compliance 

Read on to see how Biarri Workforce continues to simplify and prepare your workforce scheduler to create optimised workforce rosters and work schedules. 

  1. Roster Export Additional Employee Columns  

Reduce confusion and assure your employees with the option to increase your employees visibility with additional ‘Employee Fields’. When downloading or exporting your roster, you have the choice to include or exclude the following employee details from your roster. Better manage your employees’ details with the new employee columns. 

2. Include shifts from non-primary roster

Better manage individual employee rosters by being able to include shifts from non-primary rosters. When downloading rosters, include or exclude shifts from non-primary rosters with Biarri Workforce’s new toggle option. Perfect for employees who work across multiple departments and perform multiple functions, keep track and improve the way you plan and organise their roster.


3. Customisable report titles

Create clearer reports and configure ‘titles’ and ‘subtitles’ before downloading your roster. With the ‘Suggested Titles’ selector – correctly title and label your rosters based on intelligent suggestions.



4. Roster KPI’s – Paid hours/ total days sub totals 

Make more informed decisions with Biarri Workforce’s improved ‘RosterKPI’s’. With the enhanced KPI functionality, users will have the option to view the sub-total paid working hours and total days. Helpful and useful when dealing and managing fatigue, increase your workforce planners and users visibility over working hours, ensuring employee hours do not exceed CBA regulations.

5. Powerful roster view filters

Improve your user experience with the new Biarri Workforce filter options. By clicking on the following ‘filter’ icon dropdown in the Rostering’ tab, your user will now be able to organise and switch views by selecting the necessary filters, creating a more clearer and purposeful roster.

6. Fatigue and Qualification Compliance Reporting 

Found in the ‘Admin’ tab, users will now be able to export fatigue and qualification reports under the ‘Roster Validation’ sub header.
Make compliance and safety a priority by ensuring you have the correct employee with the correct qualification, to perform the necessary tasks. With Roster Validation’ reporting, your Workforce Planners and users will be able to stay up to date with employees who do not satisfy the requirements to perform specific tasks and roles. From alcohol tests to site compliance, roster validation will highlight when employees are in breach of rule specifications outlined.

If you want to know more about any of the features mentioned above, we invite you to leave your contact details in the contact form below and one of our team members will get in touch with you. Or if you want to know more about Biarri Workforce follow this link.

Workforce Contact Form

Changing the landscape of Route Optimisation

Introduction

Getting from point A to point B is a simple enough task to be completed on most devices, through various different apps and software. But what happens when you have to get from point A to point B and now point C with consideration of other factors like availability windows and route preference? Scopta have developed Run and Route a route optimisation software that deals with the complexities of vehicle and delivery routing.

Read on to discover Run and Route and how it is changing route optimisation and vehicle routing.

Scenario

Barry is the Operations Manager at a warehouse depot for a biscuit company and is in charge of the planning and organising of the distribution of goods sold across Sydney. Barry is tasked with delivering 400 orders to be delivered between 20 trucks, exactly 20 orders per truck. For the last 10 years Barry has used a combination of Excel and Google Maps to figure out their delivery routes. He plans his delivery schedule a week in advance, and spends a large portion of the week carefully mapping out delivery routes. Barry is restricted by both time and cost, trying to figure out the fastest and most efficient route.

Planning out a delivery schedule by hand is notoriously difficult and time consuming, not to mention subject to human error. Manually working between Excel and Google Maps to find the best delivery order is inefficient and also raises challenges such as the Travelling Salesman Problem or TSP, which is simply finding the best order in which to visit a set of locations. Through traditional methods of Excel and Google Maps it won’t tell you the best way to order those stops to give you the overall shortest or fastest route but instead show you the quickest route from point A to point B. Now say you throw in point C and point D? An extra level of complexity is added with additional locations. How is Barry to know which location to begin with and the order to complete the rest of his deliveries?

With Run and Route, Barry will have a centralised solution that will allow him to input information about his locations and trucks, and automatically configure the fastest and most cost effective delivery routing schedule. Traditionally, Barry might have begun his route at point A, followed by point B, C and D in that order. By inputting this data in Run and Route, Run and Route will determine the optimal delivery schedule that would show that this particular truck should begin his delivery route at point C, then point A, then point D and finishing at point B. 

Another challenge Barry and other Operations Managers face is creating a schedule that considers delivery time windows and customer availability. Factoring customer availability and time windows is a crucial and important aspect of determining the optimal routes for a fleet of delivery vehicles. For example one shop in Bondi has a strict 2 hour delivery window between 5:00am and 7:00 am, while another customer in Redfern is a bit more flexible and is open for deliveries from 6:00 am to 12:00 am. Manually working through these intricacies one truck at a time not only requires an incredible amount of thought and time, the level of complexity dramatically increases with scale

run and route

Solution

Run and Route is Scopta’s Vehicle Routing offering, designed to simplify the planning process for last-mile delivery. It is useful for businesses with multiple vehicles that each perform multiple deliveries per day. Run and Route can help your business cut variable costs and improve your customer service. Remain efficient and competitive with a quality Vehicle Routing Solver that simplifies the role of your Operations Manager and the way you plan and schedule your deliveries. Be confident and assured with the quality and accuracy of your schedules with Run and Routes powerful engine.

Want to know more? Speak to a team member today and find out how Scopta Run and Route can automate your vehicle routing.

Run and Route Contact Form

3 ways Biarri Workforce can improve rostering and workforce planning

The team behind Biarri Workforce are dedicated to helping your business get the most out of our rostering software. Whether it is simplifying the job of your workforce planners or creating a team friendly roster that increases your employees satisfaction and retention, Biarri Workforce is the solution to improve your workforce planning and rostering. Biarri Workforce is tried and tested across many industries including maintenance teams, healthcare and aviation.

Read on to learn about the 3 ways Biarri Workforce improved rostering and workforce planning for the team at CQFMS and how Biarri Workforce can help your Workforce Planners and your Business. 


Reahan McBain – FMS Group

1. Biarri Workforce Software

We’ve all heard it before: 

“It is not the tools we use that make us good, but rather how we employ them”. 

This saying doesn’t always hold true, sometimes simply not having the correct tool for the correct job restricts our ability to perform; so why not start with the right tools for the right job? 

Like so many other businesses, CQFMS managed their workforce and planned their rosters using ever increasingly complex Excel spreadsheets. While Excel is a capable tool, rostering a growing team of people over a 24/7 period all while adhering to EBA and fatigue regulations can quickly become a nightmare of complexity. Through system driven automation and the powerful Biarri Workforce roster optimisation engine, the team at CQFMS were able to significantly reduce roster preparation time, more easily ensure compliance with EBA and fatigue requirements and manage changes to their rosters more effectively

2. Onboarding New and Existing Employees

When managing a large fleet of workers, onboarding and assigning new employees to a roster can become a time consuming task. This was the case with CQFMS, with a growing workforce. Previously, onboarding was completed using another HR software system and new employee lists were manually transferred through to Excel to begin planning the roster. This was inefficient and not scalable so CQFMS requested a more streamlined approach to onboarding. Through Biarri Workforce, Workforce Planners are now able to onboard employees much easier, as well as manage their roster in the same system. Found in the Biarri Workforce ‘Employees’ tab, you are able to onboard new employees and upload documents such as certificates and other qualifications all in one simple and easy to use interface. 

3. Creating a safe roster 

CQFMS and Biarri value safety and understand that an implied safety culture goes beyond the job site and includes appropriate roster creation. It is critical when planning a roster to have the correctly trained and skilled people for the job and to ensure that employees have current certification suitable to be rostered to work on a site. Biarri Workforce has in-built validation rules which enforce training and skills compliance to enable workforce planners to plan and roster the correct workers to be deployed on site. Another crucial aspect of roster creation that Biarri Workforce automated for CQFMS was the time consuming process of checking and managing employee fatigue. Ensuring the safety of employees meant making a roster that was compliant with EBA regulations including workplace fatigue rules.  Previously, it was difficult and time consuming for CQFMS to manually update and track overtime and employee hours for a large workforce. The Biarri Workforce rules engine and validation function will not generate a roster which breaks fatigue rules and when manual changes are made to the roster the rostering team is automatically notified if the planned roster breaches any fatigue rules. Rosters cannot be published without the Workforce Planner acknowledging and/or fixing these issues.

The right tool

CQFMS is one of many valued Biarri Workforce users. By stepping away from Excel spreadsheets and adopting Biarri Workforce, CQFMS have made noticeable improvements in how they plan and manage their rosters. Reducing time and effort to generate rosters while also automating the important task of skills and fatigue compliance.

If you would like to know more about how Biarri Workforce can improve your rostering and workforce planning or have any other further questions, feel free to leave your details below and a team member will get in touch with you. 

Workforce Contact Form

Sales forecasting tool

Sales Forecasting Tool to Plan Accurately With Some Simple AI

Throughout my career I’ve worked with salespeople, as a salesman, and in roles supporting sales activities. Sales is one of the most important functions of a business as without sales, you have no business, no matter how great your product or service is. 

Sales is the fuel for any business to survive and thrive and this makes planning and forecasting sales one of the most important activities a business does.

That’s why running a business without effective and accurate sales forecasting is a bit like flying a plane without a fuel gauge. Of course, an accurate fuel gauge is not necessary or sufficient for generating or maintaining lift – the Wright brothers got away without one. But there’s a reason why modern planes have them – it gives pilots access to data to make the flight decisions to get from A to B. 

So how are you flying your venture?

Probably the same as most other businesses. 

You gather your sales team and ask them, ”how many sales will we have this year?” 

In the best case scenario, they review last year’s sales and make a guess based on gut feeling and intuition (which is not always wrong). 

Commonly enough though, a misalignment of incentives and company sales culture can manifest as a mismatch between targets (optimised for remuneration incentives) and forecasts (optimised for accuracy).

We can do better. 

And to do this we need to use data. But why is data so important?

According to the Professor of Digital Practice at QUT, Mal Thatcher, the 21st century will be the century where,

“By the middle of the century the only tangible asset on an organisation’s balance sheet will be data”

and this is true for your sales too.

To give you and your business a competitive advantage, we at Biarri have developed a simple, easy-to-use Excel sales forecasting tool for you. So it is time to become data driven now and with Biarri’s new tool this is extremely easy. 

Biarri has taken some basic AI techniques and put them into a spreadsheet that requires no macros, no plugins and nothing to install. The AI techniques in this Excel tool will help guide your sales team to make more accurate predictions for the coming year. 

You don’t need to be an expert in AI to leverage the tool. It does all of the hard work for you and provides you with data driven monthly predictions for the coming year based on quarterly sales patterns. You don’t need to know cutting edge AI to use the tool, just how to copy and base a small amount of data.

You can download the tool below for free. There is no need to leave your email address or anything. Biarri’s mission is to make the world more efficient via better decisions powered with mathematics and we believe this tool has the potential to make a difference for your organisation.

Your New Sales Forecasting Tool

Before you download the tool, it is worthwhile telling you what it is, and how to use it.

It uses historic data to establish a pattern and then extrapolates this pattern to be able to predict the coming year’s sales. 

Not only does the tool provide monthly predictions, it also takes into account quarterly sales cycles. Forecasting quarter-by-quarter aligns it with typical quarterly reporting and also captures the variance in quarterly sales. This quarter-by-quarter approach is designed for industries like retail which have some quarters with greater sales (e.g. Xmas). 

There is also a “bad month flag”. This allows users to indicate if something bad has happened in the past during months (e.g. COVID) and if similar events are predicted to occur in the future (in the PREDICTIONS tab). 

This spreadsheet comes prefilled with data to show you what it should look like. To use it for yourself, remove the data from the Monthly Sales column in the Data tab and replace it with your own data. The calculations and updates will be carried out automatically. All other cells are locked for your safety. 

How do I use the sales forecasting tool?

The steps to using the sales forecasting tool are as follows:

1. Collect exactly 36 months of contiguous sales data leading up to the month you would like to predict from. E.g. if you want to predict the yearly sales from January 2022 until December 2022, then collect the 36 months of sales data from January 2019 until December 2021. The model is set up for exactly 36 months of data, not more or less.

2. Copy this sales data into the Monthly Sales column in the Data tab (in green). The top most entry should be the oldest (e.g. in the example in 1., January 2019) and the bottom most entry should be the newest (e.g. December 2021 in the example in 1.).

Sales forecasting tool monthly sales column

3. In the Data tab now enter the first month for the monthly sales data in the month tab by choosing from the drop down menu (this cell is green). Also choose the year in the year column from the drop down menu (this cell is also in green).

Sales forecasting tool month selection

4. For each month, choose whether a bad event occurred (or not) by selecting Yes or No in the Bad Event column. If normal trading and fluctuations were occuring, then put No. Otherwise, if something truly unusual (e.g. COVID) occurred that significantly impacted your sales volumes, select Yes on the months which were affected by this (this column is coloured green).

Sales forecasting tool bad event input column

5. Once this data has been entered, go to the Model Analysis tab to see the outputs of the model. In the Predictions tab, if you predict that there will be any bad months in the future, select Yes in the corresponding months in the Bad Event column (which is in green). For this to have effect, similar Bad Events need to have occurred in the past otherwise this will have no effect.

Bad event output column

6. Finally, your predictions are shown in a graph in the Dashboard tab, with a table showing the cumulative results for each quarter.

Monthly sales prediction graph

Download the sales forecasting tool by clicking on the button below.

What does Biarri do?

Most companies begin with Excel sheets like the one provided here to start making once off decisions on key parts of their business. It is like the first flight of a plane with an often inaccurate fuel gauge caused by data issues. At some point, organisations need to lift up from Excel to correct, secure, easy to use and more powerful tools and this is where Biarri helps.

Biarri’s main value proposition is to help clients realise operational excellence in the way they run their business via AI. The core of this is excellent, data driven decision making. Biarri catalyses AI driven business decisions by using its cloud based set of mathematical tools, the Workbench.

To discuss how you can leverage your data and turn it into value to reach new operational heights, reach out with the form below now.

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Markdown optimisation example

The Optimal, Best Markdown Rules During COVID-19 and Beyond

When my friends talk to me about managing a retail store they all enjoy it apart from one thing. They tell me that seeing the latest trends, working with cool brands and meeting some of the stars promoting the articles is great. It’s just that there is a recurring event that makes long days longer and they are sure can be done better – markdowns.

My friends imagine that a set of retail analysts spend days figuring out the optimal markdown to make sure customers buy the remaining goods at the highest possible price to maximise the possible gross profit. 

However, in many cases, there is no group of analysts.

Instead there is a fixed set of well-worn rules, year after year: first a 10% reduction, then a 30% reduction, and finally a 60% reduction until the product clears.

It’s artificial ignorance not artificial intelligence. The retailers have the data, it’s whether they use it – and can make use of it – or not.

As if typical markdown cycles weren’t difficult enough, COVID-19 has turned these processes into a nightmare. Companies are now stuck in a vice trying to clear stock but doing so in a way that loses minimal money and keeps the company afloat. 

The old rules are no longer working so companies are experimenting with new permanent discounts – 50%, 70% and 90%! Just whatever it takes to get the stock out the door before it’s too late…

What is needed, now more than ever, is a data driven, machine learning approach to suit each individual business. The best markdown rules use analytics.

Biarri’s research has shown that too many goods are too heavily marked down, even in a time of crisis like this, meaning lost profit margins. In addition, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work – each business needs to take its own unique conditions into account for such markdowns to be successful.

The early conclusion? The best markdown rules

In the current situation, you need an advanced analytics tool (AI, Machine Learning, Optimisation) that takes into account the unique circumstances of your business and can answer questions such as:

  1. Each store has different stock coverage for an article, so how do we balance a single store’s need with a regional markdown strategy that mandates one markdown for all stores in a region? Or even more difficult, a national markdown strategy?
  2. If we allow markdowns to vary between stores, then how do we create a markdown strategy that prevents customers shopping between your different stores searching for the biggest discount?
  3. How do we accurately model price elasticity for goods with only a few sales each month and even fewer historic price points?
  4. When marking down, how do we pick a smart price point – an “anchor” – that increases demand much more than the surrounding price possibilities? 
  5. How do we accurately predict the demand for each individual article to know what its markdown sticker should show to maximise profit?

As well as much more.

A tool that maximises your gross profit needs to get all the above right for you and your business, not for a generic retailer in a generic retail environment – these disappeared a long time ago.

The way you resolve these challenges is by having an analytics tool which can:

  1. Group stores together using geographic and sales profiles to provide simplified markdown strategies which staff are prepared to implement.
  2. Provide a set of optimal markdowns, determined from the historic sales data, which can be applied equally across all stores in a similar area.
  3. Compute accurate price elasticities. Price elasticity is often like sausages; everyone likes them, but it’s better not to see them being made. Biarri avoids elasticity problems by bootstrapping data to measure how volatile the elasticity estimates are and then weights them accordingly.
  4. Cleverly choose price points based on known rules of customer pricing behaviour instead of just basing it on the markdown percentage times the price.
  5. Predict accurately the demand for an article at a given price point by not predicting a number at all – we predict a range.

The last point is key as merely having a “point” forecast is of little value, you need ranges of values so that you can meet your business needs to ensure that you will either:

  • Sell all stock with a high certainty at a good price, or
  • Ensure the shelves are never empty and you don’t leave customers with a bad impression.
Best Markdown rules forecasts

How do I use it?

So now that we’ve identified the key criteria to create the optimal set of markdowns to maximise profit but also clear out the goods, the final step of a successful markdown strategy tailored to your business is building trust in it. This means rolling out the new AI created marks in a smart way. If you roll it out across your entire range and there are any issues, the entire project will be doomed to fail – even if it was immensely successful on some articles.

The way to make this succeed is to do some simple tests in a scientifically correct way. Create a control group where you do what you normally do and test it against a treatment group with the new optimal markdowns. This can be done either on a store by store basis (A/B tests), but if that is not possible then it should be done across similar product categories so we can draw valid conclusions from the experiment to find the best markdown rules.

What are the benefits?

If instead of using intuition and “What we always did” to markdown products, you turn to analytics to do this smarter, the gross profit improvements can be significant. This technique has been the success story of a number of giants such as Walmart and Target Corporation in their retail divisions. Not only has Biarri seen significant benefits from using optimal markdowns, studies have also concluded that it is possible to improve profits by up to 20% by using analytics instead of gut feelings.

COVID-19 is affecting everyone, irrespective of industry, however the retail industry is one of the worst hit. People are scared and not visiting stores leading to a drop in foot traffic of up to 50% and supply chains malfunctioning with over half of retailers impacted by supply chain issues having too much of some stock (sporting jerseys) and not enough of another (running gear). 

So something smart needs to be done – and right now. Analytics based markdowns are exactly what are needed to turn the retail industry around. Off the shelf tools don’t cut it for a situation like this as they are not customised to cope with so-called “out of sample” events like the current coronavirus crisis.

So reach out now to find out how you can clear out unwanted stocks effectively and maximise profit at the same time. Biarri’s tools are simple to use, customised to each customer and driven by accurate and correct mathematics to ensure the best result. They provide you with the best markdown rules every time.

Better yet, to simplify things, Biarri is offering its markdown tools as a managed service, so no IT work for you to do! We’ll do the analysis and provide you with the best possible markdowns.

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