Production Scheduling Basics: Creating a Production Schedule


Production scheduling is part of the pipeline that starts with sourcing and planning. Is it the most important part? Every part is important! If you don’t have the materials, you can’t manufacture a product. If you don’t have a plan, you’ll never get your goods to market on time.

But for now, let’s focus on production scheduling. We’ll define both production scheduling and a production schedule and define what production scheduling is not. Then we’ll explain what to consider in production scheduling and explain how the process can benefit your projects.

What Is Production Scheduling?

A production schedule is a plan that helps facilitate the process of delivering products to customers and the marketplace. It’s part of the larger supply chain in manufacturing and includes everything from procurement of raw materials and labor and logistics to the costs involved and a production timeframe.

Manufacturers need to address production scheduling before they begin the manufacturing process. This might sound obvious, but production scheduling informs the costs involved in producing a product, such as the production itself and labor. Therefore, financial resources must be allocated for every step in your production cycle.

It’s essential to consider when to introduce your product to the marketplace. You want to do so quickly without negatively impacting quality, so many work backward from a deadline. That means understanding how long production will take and the timeline to transport finished goods to distributors. This requires balancing resources to have what you need when you need it.

That’s a lot of different pieces to coordinate. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that has robust Gantt charts to map your production schedule. Our Gantt charts allow you to manage your resources and costs in real time. All four task dependencies can be linked in the production schedule to avoid costly bottlenecks. Once you have your production scheduling planned out, set a baseline to capture that plan. Now you can compare the planned schedule to the actual schedule when in production to help you stay on track. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart
ProjectManager helps you map production scheduling on Gantt charts. Learn more

What Is a Production Schedule?

A production schedule is an integral part of production scheduling. The production schedule is a list of all the products that are to be manufactured. That list also notes where and when each product is going to be made.

The production schedule is very detailed and it includes everything from raw materials to logistics and what processes will be used to run a smooth production line. Managers will also explore potential bottlenecks so they can avoid issues. The production schedule is reviewed throughout the manufacturing process and revised as needed to keep production running on time.

Related: Best Production Scheduling Software

Not only managers but sales teams benefit from a production schedule. Sales can use the production schedule to keep the manufacturing team updated on the demand for the product. And, of course, managers can keep sales aware of what product is available.

Production Schedule vs. Production Plan

Production scheduling and production planning work together but they are separate processes. In fact, sometimes a manufacturer will use one instead of both depending on the type of production they’re doing.

There are differences between the two and it’s important to understand what those differences are. One way to look at it is that production planning is a general overview of when a product is made, but a production schedule is a far more detailed look into that process.

Production Schedule vs. Master Production Schedule (MPS)

A master production schedule (MPS) details what, when and how many products a manufacturer will produce. It links the demand as determined by sales to the capacity a company has to make the product. It helps create a realistic plan that avoids having to overstock warehouses but maintains on-time delivery.

A production schedule shares many qualities with the MPS, but goes further. It includes planning, routing, scheduling, dispatching and execution. It’s a larger process that encompasses everything related to scheduling when manufacturing products.

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Master Production Schedule Template

Use this free Master Production Schedule Template for Excel to manage your projects better.


Key Factors to Consider In Production Scheduling

Because production scheduling is such a large job, it can seem overwhelming. It’s best to look at it as a collection of many smaller jobs or factors that contribute to production. Let’s look at some of the things you’ll need to take into account when production scheduling.

  • Production capacity: The most output measured in units of output per period.
  • Production forecasting: Projection of the number of finished products or subassemblies that’ll be produced in a specific period to meet forecasted sales.
  • Production inventory: Everything that’s used in the manufacturing process.
  • Required raw materials & components: Specific items in production inventory.
  • Supply chain: A series of processes in the production and distribution of a product.
  • Available equipment: Metric to measure the percentage of time a piece of equipment can operate.
  • Operations management: It’s important that the production schedule stays up-to-date on what’s going on with the organization.
  • Plant layout: This is important as the time it takes to transport materials and process them is part of the larger production schedule.

Production Scheduling Process

In order to balance customer needs with the availability of resources in a cost-effective manner, manufacturers apply the production scheduling process to their production facilities. It provides a better way to allocate resources, operations and processes when creating goods and services.

By following the steps below, manufacturers can adjust their production scheduling to reflect resource availability and client orders. But your production schedule must be accurate in terms of the resources available in order to reap the benefits of production scheduling.

1. Production Planning

Everything rests on this step. Here, you’ll figure out the course of the entire production. Managers will look over production budgets, a demand plan, and the number of raw materials that’ll be required. There are two types of plans, static and dynamic, the former thinking that everything will follow the plan’s timeline and the latter believes everything can change. The dynamic plan is recommended as change is part of any execution of a plan.

2. Production Routing

Now with the plan done, you’ll want to determine the path that the production will follow. This is routing. That is, how the raw materials are procured and then made into a finished product. The idea behind production routing is to determine the more economical sequence of operations in the production process.

3. Production Scheduling

This is when you determine the date and time that the production operation must be completed. There are three types of production scheduling, master scheduling (which defines the entire process from start to finish), manufacturing or operation scheduling (for routing raw materials) and retail operation scheduling (to get the finished product from the manufacturing facility to stores). You’ll want to include a contingency plan to respond to issues that negatively impact your schedule.

4. Dispatching & Execution

Once you’ve scheduled production, it’s time to share the plan with everyone involved. Assign the order of jobs, instructions and other production information that’s important for execution. Execution is when staff works together to ensure that the sequence of the production schedule is followed and deliverables meet deadlines. This means monitoring and removing bottlenecks that might delay orders.

Production Scheduling Software

Production scheduling software helps manufacturers better schedule their production lines, including equipment and resources. It can automate certain activities to streamline work and define employees’ availability to make it easier to assign them to jobs.

It monitors and tracks the schedule to help managers catch issues and respond to them quickly to avoid any slowdown or delay or delivery. It can address customer demand and reduce lead time getting products into retail shops or eCommerce. Production scheduling software can help with workflows, timesheets and much more.

How ProjectManager Helps With Production Scheduling

ProjectManager is award-winning scheduling software that helps managers plan, manage and track their jobs in real time. Live dashboards and customizable reporting tools allow managers to have transparency into the production line, whether getting a high-level view of costs, time and more or digging deeper into status reports, variance and other reports that can also be shared with stakeholders to keep them updated.

Create Production Workflows With Kanban Boards

Creating custom workflows allows production to move from one activity to the next. You can even automate workflows by adding triggers that will change the status, assignee and more. To ensure that only quality moves forward on the production line, set task approvals and designate someone with authority to review and approve. Our software has multiple project views so the production scheduling of the Gantt chart is the same when you toggle over the kanban board, which then makes it easy to visualize the workflow.

Manufacturing kanban board in ProjectManager

Track Resource Utilization With Timesheets and Workload Charts

Keeping track of your resources is essential to staying on a production schedule. Our software has resource management tools that can keep your production line working more efficiently. There are tools, such as secure timesheets, which do more than streamline payroll. They also show you a real-time picture of how complete each team member’s job is. You can set the availability of team members’ PTO, vacations and global holidays, which makes it easier to assign them work. Then our color-coded workload chart makes it easy to see who is overallocated. You can balance their workload right from that chart to keep production on track.

ProjectManager's workload chart

As mentioned above, production scheduling must be flexible and adjust to changes. Our risk management features make it easier to identify risk and track issues in real time to make sure that there’s as little disruption as possible. Our collaborative platform makes it easy for everyone to share files, comment and more whether they’re on the production line or in the office. Manufacturers can benefit from all the features of our software.

ProjectManager is online scheduling software that builds schedules and helps you execute them more efficiently. Use tools to plan, assign, track and report on all aspects of your production. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.