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Understanding the use of forecasting software: an interpretive study in a supply-chain company

Research output: Working paper

  • P Goodwin
  • W Y Lee
  • R A Fildes
  • K Nikolopoulos
  • M Lawrence


A study of short-term forecasting in UK supply chain companies has revealed that some companies make limited use of the facilities that are available in the statistical forecasting software that they have purchased. Despite their costs, the software packages are often used for little more than data display. Management judgment is the predominant, or even exclusive, element in the derivation of the forecasts. An in-depth interpretive study was conducted in one company to investigate the reasons for this. The interpretive approach focuses on the way people make sense of the world, both individually and through social interaction. Observations were made of the company's forecasting process and semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants. An analysis of the information gathered, using actor-network theory, indicated that the purchase, and subsequent under use of the software resulted from the alignment of the perceived interests of the software vendors, senior and middle management and other participants in the forecasting process. The software's primary role was to act as a focus for discussion with its statistical aspects subservient. The case demonstrates how stable but dysfunctional patterns of software usage can persist due to the resilience of an Actor-Network.