Ara Surenian, founded Cadent Resources, Inc. in 2004, after 20 years of hands-on engineering, manufacturing, distribution, and consulting experience. The company was initially founded to help small to mid-sized manufacturers and distributors improve their operating performance by implementing lean manufacturing principles. After a year of consulting a diverse group of companies, Ara kept running into the same issue, these companies are getting faster in their production and fulfillment processes but their front end planning and scheduling was undermining their potential.
In response, Ara refined a process he had developed over the years called the 5-D’s of Demand and Supply Planning and Execution. The 5-D’s is a process that Ara developed to help teach his clients the benefits of an integrated planning and execution process. The process included spreadsheet based planning systems that users could use to help address the front end planning deficiencies so that the backend could maximize the lean processes that were being implemented.
The production scheduling template, shown below, is an example of an excel based planning system Ara developed. The scheduling template was the foundation of what later became DemandCaster's capacity planning module. The spreadsheet pulled customer orders from the companies ERP system and loaded the schedule in units to present the production load by department by date. This allowed users to not only see where there were over capacity situations, but the spreadsheet would also calculate the required production rate to meet demand. In essence, the spreadsheet was a simple Kanban scheduling system.The forecast template, below, was what later became DemandCaster. Like the capacity planning template, the forecast template would use an items history to run simple forecasting algorithms by item and convert those forecasts into a supply plan. Many companies we speak to have a similar spreadsheet based process that they need to move away from as the companies complexity grows. Automating the essential logic of these tried and true spreadsheet based planning systems not only drives efficiency in planning, but adds the capability to run more complex planning scenarios and algorithms. Two and a half years into Cadent Resources, Inc., Ara was presented with an opportunity to take the spreadsheet planning he developed to another level. FPC, a manufacturer and distributor of craft related supplies asked that Ara develop a software to forecast demand and plan supply to help automate much of the steps managed in spreadsheets. In late 2007, the program, which became known as DemandCaster, was launched and was one of the first sales forecasting and inventory planning softwares to run entirely in the cloud. Though a cloud solution was a very effective way to deploy software, at that time the cloud was not as ubiquitous as it has become today. As such, many companies were afraid to hand their data off to someone else (particularly a newer software company). As a result, during the early days of the software, the focus was on providing the service to Cadent’s existing clients and using their experiences to continue to develop and evolve the software. Many of our earliest users are still actively using the software on a daily basis to this day!
Version 1 of DemandCaster, pictured below, focused on best fit forecasting using an items entire sales history, safety stock setting using the standard deviation of demand model, and ordering in a single location. It was built using asp.net and a Microsoft SQL server backend. We later included BOM explosions. It also included many of the base analytics and structure that are still in use today. In retrospect it was quite ugly but very functional.Version 2, pictured below, improved the look and feel and, at our clients request, added additional functionality such as multi-location planning, and the S&OP and 4-P modules. It also included significant improvements in speed and security as the user base of DemandCaster grew. Version 3, which was launched late 2014, adopted a flat design, fewer icons, more responsive UI’s, a horizontal menu bar allowing for full width displays and increased speed, and quality. Additional features such as constrained supply planning, custom reporting, and improved data management have been introduced. In 2015, we also became a certified Netsuite Suiteapp and are the engine that drives Plex Systems MPS process. DemandCaster’s core capabilities are now equal to and in many cases better than systems that cost in the 6 figures. Since 2007, our client base and the number of ERP’s that we integrate with has grown significantly while maintaining our independence. We are a privately held company with no outside private equity investments or other influences that could potentially negatively influence our future. Our approach, from the very beginning, has been to adopt a conservative path to growth in order to not overextend our financial resources. This has forced us to design and deploy practical features that our customers will use and are not heavy on theory. As a result more than half of DemandCaster's features are a direct result of user input.
We are looking forward to continue to meet the needs of our clients without losing site of our core values:
- Provide measurable, transformative, and lasting results at a cost that is significantly lower than the financial impact we help generate.
- Provide our clients with a quick response and personal support by phone, email, or web-conference to ensure they maximize their use of the software.
- Provide information and ideas to help our clients better plan for the future. When needed provide our expertise to address any challenges that they are unable to address on their own.
- Understand our clients growing needs and evolve our software to continually take their experience to the next level without sacrificing our user-friendly interface.
- In the very unlikely case our services fall short of expectation, address any shortcomings at our cost until a satisfactory resolution is realized.
- Allow our clients to cancel DemandCaster at any time if the service is not providing the value they were expecting.
“Measuring and communication are changing performance. A big benefit of this process is that we (sales and operations) are regularly talking to each other and are now resolving issues that are improving quality and driving down inventory”.B. Selleck, Plant Manager, D&K Group