ASTON-BLAIR, INC. CASE ANALYSIS
Aston-Blair is a producer of "precious metal alloys and other specialized alloys for commercial and industrial use" (Aston-Blair Case, 1999: M-6, 13). At the time of the case, this company is experiencing difficulties due to the economic slowdown that occurred in the early 1990s and the declining price of gold, caused by the start of the Gulf War. At the end of an executive committee meeting, Wynn Aston III, CEO of Aston-Blair, charged Peter Casey, Vice President of Marketing, and Chris Trott, Vice President of Corporate Planning, with examining the company's forecasting processes in order to achieve better inventory control, financial planning, and improve production scheduling. Aston believed that "poor forecasting was one of several underlying factors contributing to the firm's poor performance" (Aston-Blair Case, 1999: M-6, 13).
Trott and Casey assembled a task force to investigate the forecasting problem. They mandated that the task force would focus its research on the Marketing Division, because this is where the final forecasts for product demand are created.
They allocated members to the task force and decided that Michael Bacon, Trott's special assistant, would lead the task force. During the first meeting of the task force, it was quickly decided that the team should be divided into three different subgroups. One group (Holt and the three product managers) would focus on the Marketing Division, one person (Meir) would focus on gathering data for the new forecasting model, and one group (Bacon, Reiss, and Bodin) would concentrate on the Sales Division's inputs into the forecast.
The subgroups worked on their analysis to meet the August 4th deadline set by Casey and Trott. Shortly before the deadline, Bodin presented Bacon with a report that exposed some "systematic biases in the Sales Division's inputs into the forecast" (Aston-Blair Case, 1999:...