Reporting vs. Planning

Several times in the last few days our team has been involved in discussions with vendors regarding the difference between reporting and planning.  Surprisingly many vendors see these two as synonymous functions when in fact the are distinctly different. 

Reporting involves looking at what happened in a past period.  The period could be five minutes ago or 5 weeks ago, it does not matter.  The basic concept is that you are studying what happened in the past.

Planning is what happens after the report is analyzed.   It involves looking in the future and creating a series of actions based on what was reported to have happened.  e.g. a merchandising plan provides a specific open-to-buy (OTB) plan typically on a category level. 

Why is this important?  Because many vendors see the process of gathering EDI 852 sales and inventory data as a planning function when it is actually a reporting function that serves as an input into the planning function.   Management needs to understand the difference and adjust their expectations accordingly.  Otherwise you run the risk of throwing out the baby with bathwater when the EDI 852 data program fails to meet the needs of the business from a planning perspective. 

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