Why ERP Scheduling Works in an Efficient Resource Workflow

In the business world, we are becoming obsessed with workflows. And with good reason; digital solutions and cloud-based platforms have unlocked new ways of organizing ourselves. These modern tools are helping us eliminate redundancies, reduce errors, and accomplish more with less.  

We all know what that means: saving money and increasing revenue! 

When it comes to industries like manufacturing, optimizing resource workflows is the king of profitability. In ever-changing markets, you don’t want to waste warehouse space or labor, or miss out on sales. 

But trying to keep up with everything can seem like an impossible task. There is a better and easier way to optimize workflows and maximize your resources: ERP scheduling.


What is ERP scheduling?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the backbone of any organization. ERP involves the planning of all critical business processes required to maintain continuity and promote growth. A major component of the planning process is scheduling.

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ERP scheduling includes the accounting and allocation of all company resources such as manufacturing plants, raw materials, labor, and capital. It also oversees areas such as capacity planning and production scheduling.

Companies often use AI (Artificial Intelligence) in ERP for chatbots, automation, and financial forecasting.


Capacity Planning and Scheduling

Capacity planning and capacity scheduling may sound like the same term; however, they cover two related areas of the ERP scheduling process.

Capacity Planning

Capacity planning is also known as infinite capacity planning. It’s a roadmap to ensure all future production plans are viable. Mechanisms are put in place to give managers plenty of notice when extra capacity will be needed. How this additional capacity is met depends on what options are available (and is part of the plan).

Capacity planning is not meant to optimize individual processes and is mostly based on predictions made from historical data and analytics software. In this way, capacity planning is good for medium to long-term planning for organizations.

Capacity and ERP Scheduling

When it comes to ERP, capacity scheduling covers all short-term planning activities related to meeting variable supply and demand. Also known as finite capacity planning, this component of ERP scheduling is concerned with maximizing capacity utilization in the present. 

Capacity scheduling takes a more granular look at business operations and fine-tunes each step in the process. In manufacturing, this involves questions like, “Can phase two begin during phase one or only after phase one is completed?”. 

Finite capacity planning is an approach that also examines parameters like set-up time and alternative solutions or methods for each step in the manufacturing process. 

For effective capacity planning and scheduling, you will need the right tools for the job. This includes using the best ERP scheduling software as well as having team members with proper data analysis training. 


Production Planning and Scheduling

In production, ERP scheduling and planning aim to create an efficient resource workflow. All processes, raw materials, and other resources are balanced against the demand to maximize cost-effectiveness and, in turn, business revenue.

The Five Components of Effective Production Scheduling

There are five major steps to implement proper scheduling as part of any ERP strategy. 

1. Planning

This is the administrative phase where your organization must determine the operations necessary to deliver your products or services and meet customer demand. This includes raw materials, suppliers, IT or manufacturing equipment, and all other required resources. 

During planning, historical data must be gathered and analyzed. This will enable you to predict demand and generate minimum and maximum supply levels. 

2. Routing

Routing involves the sequence of steps or the dependencies between intermediary processes within the business model. What steps must be completed before the sequential steps can be initiated? How long does each step take?

These are the types of questions that must be answered to create the most efficient and timely delivery of products and services.

3. Scheduling

Well, there’s that word again, scheduling. 

In order to create an effective and reactive plan, you will need to dig deeper with schedule creation for every necessary process. This includes a master schedule for entire projects as well as schedules for things such as individual manufacturing plants and routing logistics. 

It’s worth going even further by independently scheduling unique resources, such as the machine room or paint room in a plant. This is because each step in the process will vary in its dependencies of time and labor. 

4. Dispatching

Once optimal schedules have been created, it’s time to dispatch the instruction details to the relevant departments and team members. These instructions will inform staff on how to cut the fat out of the processes and boost efficiency in production.

Detailed instructions may include timing standards for tasks and SOPs for things like software and machine usage. When everyone is working on the same page, it allows your plant to thrive and accomplish its goals of maximizing the cost of supply with demand.  

5. Execution

Once everything else has been compiled, analyzed, and put in place, it’s time to execute. That means following the roadmap of operations, procedures, and other critical processes put in place to meet or exceed a production schedule. 

It’s best practice to track errors at every stage of the process. Most importantly, you will want real-time monitoring of your deliverables. This will guide you to adjust and improve your scheduling strategy if deliveries are not on time or cost-effective. 

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During the execution phase, you could implement machine-learning solutions like SageMaker to prepare and process your organization’s data. This will allow you to seamlessly improve and evolve your scheduling as you laser-focus toward maximum efficiency. 


The Benefits of ERP Scheduling Tools

Organizations like yours that implement scheduling into an ERP system stand to gain several benefits: 

Increased Operating Efficiency

ERP scheduling helps improve the efficiency of your business. With a scheduling tool, stakeholders, managers, and all team members will be able to track and monitor important information in real time. 

Team members at different stages of the production process will be instantly alerted to issues upstream or downstream and can adjust accordingly. This means you can maximize your capacity planning and boost resource efficiency. 

For example, if employees are waiting around in packing, they can be shifted to a different stage in the process to cut idle time.

Better Connectivity of Business Systems

With ERP scheduling tools, you can better connect the whole of your organization. Open APIs, developer platforms, and third-party integrations allow you to build seamless pathways with your existing business systems and tools. This helps to eliminate departmental silos and streamline processes with the automation of manual and repetitive admin tasks. 

Image sourced from timify.com

Even better, access to information from other departments can help to improve the ERP scheduling process and overall workflows. For instance, with accounting information on hand, purchasers can adjust the ideal supply of raw materials to match the actual cash flow. And then continuing the scheduling plans can help with maximizing product output and demand expectations. 

Reduced Costs

Scheduling within ERP can save your business from spending unnecessary money. With analysis of historical data, you will have plants, staff, raw materials, and other resources prepared to meet a predictable demand. 

This means you avoid overstocking or stockouts at any point in your supply chain. It also means you make the most out of your resources. Scheduling helps you have the right amount of labor available at each step in the production process without overstaffing—also having contingencies in place for holidays and sick days.

The aforementioned boost in connectivity can also help reduce business costs. For example, you can connect your warehouse management system (WMS) to your ERP scheduling tools. In this way, each tool can work together to maximize warehouse holding costs, labor, and not overstock inventory and exceed customer demand. 

Better Informed Decisions

No matter how much effort you put into areas like production, not everything goes according to plan. Life just doesn’t work out that way, and neither does business. With effective ERP scheduling, operations will flow as smoothly as possible most of the time. 

However, part of your schedule planning will be based on all of the data collected and analyzed by your ERP hub. From here, managers can view real-time data and visual charts to monitor every aspect of your production schedule. 

This allows your team to glean valuable insights to help the decision-making process for those times when operations are veering slightly “off-plan”.

ERP Scheduling Equals Efficiency

Your resource workflows depend on your people, raw materials, and any other required inputs involved. Sometimes, we can’t procure or produce any more of A or B but we still need to get to X (the product) as efficiently as possible. In these instances, it’s about cutting out excesses and getting the most out of what you do have. 

As managers, we know that optimizing resources is an enterprise-grade hack that can help to level up any organization. Regardless of the size of your business, you can implement ERP scheduling to maximize your existing resources with an eye on customer demand. 

Things like using standard business document templates and ensuring you have the right tech stack make a difference. The best solution, though, is to go with a holistic scheduling platform that can help you build an efficient resource workflow. You will have access to all the important information and full control to enact capacity-saving measures in real-time. 

<strong><strong>Pohan Lin </strong></strong><br>
Pohan Lin

Pohan Lin is the Senior Web Marketing and Localizations Manager at Databricks, a global Data and AI provider connecting the features of MLOps in databricks and data warehouses to create lakehouse architecture. With over 18 years of experience in web marketing, online SaaS business, and ecommerce growth. Pohan is passionate about innovation and is dedicated to communicating the significant impact data has in marketing. Pohan Lin also published articles for domains such as SME-News.

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