The Big Picture of Production Planning with ERP

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Customers often ask about scheduling at Sabre Limited. The problem is customers will use the term "scheduling" also to refer to planning or sequencing. To figure out which of these terms they mean, Sabre Limited consultants must ask some probing questions. 

The terms planning, scheduling and sequencing cannot be used interchangeably, despite people often doing so.  

 Planning begins are the very top. It covers what needs to be done and when. Scheduling is more detailed than planning. For example, you may book a truck to arrive at a certain dock within a two-hour window (such as 11:30 am - 1:30 pm). 

 Sequencing is the act of arranging things in the precise order they must be completed.  It's much more precise than planning and scheduling. This might be, for example, that all white painted surfaces should be completed before moving on to yellow, then orange, and finally red. 

 We go into more detail over on our own Sabre Limited blog post exploring production planning in Business Central, but below is a summary of the important points.  

If you enjoy this article and would like to talk to Sabre Limited’s president Rob Jolliffe to chat about these concepts, you can book a one-on-one 30-minute call with him at     

Planning contains Scheduling, Scheduling contains Sequencing 

 Planning is not just scheduling work for the shop floor. Planning means making sure you have enough materials and enough capacity to get jobs done on time. This is important so you can meet the deadlines you gave your customers. 

Planning is a big picture type of thing. It requires looking at time in buckets of weeks or months and making decisions about the future.  

After you make your plan, you need to schedule out each bucket of time. Once that's done, you will decide the order in which all tasks must be completed for the work to be done properly. That's sequencing. 

Planning, scheduling and sequencing are a bit like nesting dolls that way: planning contains the schedule, and the schedule contains the sequencing. 

Everyone Must Start with Planning 

Most manufacturers come to Sabre when they are getting their first real ERP system. They are on the bottom rung of the ERP system ladder, so they must start with planning. You can't do scheduling or sequencing for you have set up your ERP to do planning first.  

The planning is the most important part. It's going to coordinate your materials and capacities within scheduled buckets of time. 

For example, if you only have 160 hours of available capacity but you need more. With ERP software you can take a step back and see that the week prior has lots of capacity. All you have to do is re-plan things until they're even. 


Only about 15% of companies that do planning need to do detailed scheduling in their ERP system. Often the plan is close enough that the shop floor can "self-schedule." 

The goal is to have the lead hands working on the some of the production scheduling. You want them to have some freedom. For example, Joe is going home at 2 p.m., so they'll put these parts on his lathe for him to work on. They will make these changes and try to improve efficiency. It can be a hindrance to micromanage your lead hands and supervisors. It prevents them from rearranging the schedule on the fly. 


 It’s important to note that less than 10% of companies that do scheduling need to do sequencing. 

There are typically two reasons why a manufacturing company wants to do sequencing. 

 The first reason is to reduce set-up work if you execute your sequence properly. For example, there's an order (lighter to darker) you may follow in a paint shop that will be more efficient than if you performed your tasks at random. 

The second is because there is a constraint that forces you to sequence the tasks in a particular order in order to produce. This might be due to tooling constraints or simply the amount of electricity required to turn on and operate equipment. 

For example, if you have a machine that adjusts according to the thickness of the material you are working on. By running all the pieces of material that are the same thickness together, you minimize set-up time. 


Planning is a major step ahead for many organizations and delivers the objectives they had in mind when they said "scheduling." 

Planning ensures that you have the resources that you need when you need them. This includes both materials and labor. 

Planning is a broad overview of what needs to be done. 

Scheduling is more specific and detailed, and sequencing is the most specific and details oriented. All three of these concepts are important in running a successful business operation. 

 If you need help with a manufacturing Dynamics 365 Business Central systems choice Inventory Management in Business Central or any other questions, visit our website, give us a call at: (519) 585-7524 x.45 or contact our team, we're excited to talk with you soon! 


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