The Only Master Production Schedule Guide You’ll Ever Need

Business owners that manage to get the Master Production Schedule under their belt have a higher chance of long-term success. This is because master production scheduling lays out all their processes (including Bill of Materials) and incorporates raw materials planning (MRP) to make sure everything gets done with maximum efficiency. The result? Said business owners spend less time running around dealing with production and more time developing their business. Time is your most valuable asset, and your master production schedule gives you more of it.

Here it is:

A path to mastery over your day-to-day manufacturing challenges.

It’s called a Master Production Schedule.

It’s an essential supporting document for your entire production planning and scheduling.

In short, it’s a big deal.   

It’s one of those secret ingredients that takes your business from a good earner to a truly outstanding enterprise.  

But how can something like a master production schedule do this?

Imagine you are trying a complex recipe from your favorite celebrity chef cookbook.

How would it turn out if the instructions did not give you any information about the amount of each ingredient or the time it takes for each process to be completed?

You would end up spending much longer trying to work out how to produce the finished product by looking at videos and pictures. Maybe you’d get it somewhat right, but there would be a lot of thinking time and uncertainty along the way.

This is the difference between having a master production schedule and making do without one.

A small change makes all the difference. That’s why investing time in learning about master production scheduling disproportionately boosts your business’ power. 

It’s a force multiplier. And you have what you need to know right here.  

What is Master Production Schedule?  

The master production schedule definition is that it’s a centralized source telling you what you need to produce, how much you need to produce, and when you need to produce it. In short, everything related to production in your business, including the time frames, like lead time.  

It’s an essential part of the support structure of your manufacturing business.

The Master Production Schedule (MPS) enables you to keep your commitments to your customers.  

It’s a master plan for your modern manufacturing business.  

Simple enough in theory. So how do you implement master production scheduling?  

The person in charge of scheduling sets out the production schedule on a calendar view. With the right MRP system, this can be controlled from a single dashboard. Using the cloud, the master production schedule can be seen by anyone you give access to. 

Once your MPS is implemented, every staff member on your shop floor is clear about what needs to be produced each week. Your master production schedule makes sure everyone in your business is working towards the same goal.   

The master scheduler (cool title, right?) can then forecast relationships between demand and your supply and know when you need to increase or decrease production.  

The master production schedule is a crucial input into the aggregate operations plan, giving an overview of everything your business needs to do for 100% order fulfillment. This is producing sales orders and having them delivered on time, without any problems or defects. This is known as perfect order — and it’s what every business should strive for on all their sales channels.  

The master production schedule has become an essential tool of manufacturing operations for good reason. It’s a staple for optimum manufacturing productivity and deadline keeping for businesses of all times — which is why MPS is here to stay.

Main Functions of Master Production Schedule 

The technical manuals on master production scheduling might go on about the main function of the master production schedule.  

It’s to save you time by making the hours you spend managing your production flow much more efficient. This time can be better used to scale your manufacturing business.  

Once you understand the ultimate goal of MPS, you can realize that the other master production schedule objectives are all aligned towards achieving this goal.  

So what kind of manufacturers can use a master production schedule? Well, no matter the size of your manufacturing business, the sooner you start, the better. This is because it fosters good business habits, so when you do scale up, things like MPS is second-nature. Your business habits are a key predictor of long-term success.  

The master production schedule is compatible with different production workflows:  

  • — Make-to-Stock (MTS); 

  • — Make-to-Order (MTO); and  

  • — Assemble-to-Order (ATO).  

Master production scheduling focuses on the production of finished goods, or components (if you have an ATO workflow). The goods that are the most profitable for your business are likely to make up most of the resources needed for production. 

The other master production schedule objectives are:  

  1. Makes your demand flow smoother; 

  2. Keeps your lead-time low; 

  3. Standardizes communication across your business;  

  4. Helps you to prioritize requirement;  

  5. Helps keep production stable;  

  6. Generates workable plans for your manufacturing orders; and 

  7. Assists in making accurate purchase and transfer orders. 

Those are the desired outcomes of your MPS. Now let’s look at the ingredients of the ideal master production schedule. 

How the master production schedule steps that show how MPS fits into the bigger picture in your manufacturing business. Demand management refers to forecasting sales so you have an idea about how much you need to produce each week. Your Production Plan involves figuring out the processes required to make each product. These inform your master production schedule. While your MPS is in play, it’s a good idea to use rough-cut capacity planning to measure your capacity against actual demand and make adjustments. Material requirements planning (MRP) puts your MPS into action by sourcing the materials needed to fulfill your demand. These steps will be discussed in more detail below.

Parts of Master Production Schedule 

Before you can learn how to create a master production schedule, you first need to know how much product your workshop needs to make.

For this you need a demand plan. In order to generate a demand plan, you need up-to-date and accurate historical sales data. You use this to work out your projected demand for the coming weeks. Don’t forget to adjust this on a week-to-week basis. Furthermore, it’s a good idea to keep some safety stock around in case you receive an unusually large or uncommon order.  

The demand table is used to do a master production schedule calculation. Relax, it’s fairly simple math, and there are no complex formulas.  

You need to know your on-hand inventory for each item, and your historic demand.  

Use your historic demand to create your proposed order policy. If you normally sell 40 units of something in a week, then make it 40.  

If a customer order comes in that exceeds this, you can use your on-hand inventory to make up for the shortfall.  

If your demand grows, you need to increase your order policy, so it does not frequently eat into your safety stock. 

So as each week passes, you update your demand plan to create a more accurate MPS order. This feeds in to your master production schedule. Your MPS may be a WIP for a while, but you will fine-tune it, making it a valuable tool for your business’ order fulfillment.  

The correct procedure for developing master production schedule is to include the following elements:  

  1. Product List — All product models you produce. After you have completed your ABC analysis, you can order them by popularity, so the items you produce the most are at the top of the list. Convenient;  

  2. Variation Sub-Lists for Each Product  Have a field for each product variation. One for each individual SKU. For example, you can split backpacks into S, M, and L for size. You can further split these into other variations like color;  

  3. Year, month, and week  This is useful for planning ahead and keeping records, which is necessary for accurate demand forecasting. Split up your schedule into months and weeks. The aim is to have a solid plan of what you will produce for the next few months. You can reassess your projected demand every few months. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments sooner if the demand calls for it; and 

  4. Production quantities — This is the number of units you decide to manufacture each week. Say, after analyzing your demand plan, you decide to manufacture 200 units of product in a week. You then add the number 200 to the bottom of each weekly column. But don’t stop there, as you now need to allocate how many of each product variation will make up the 200 total. This depends on what you already have in stock, and what the projected demand is. For example, one week all 200 units could be of one SKU, whereas the next week the production could be more evenly distributed across product models. 

Now you know what a manufacturing production schedule is made of, it’s time to see one in action. 

A Master Production Schedule Example 

Here is a quick overview of the master production schedule process steps to follow: 

  1. Map your demand and make a Demand Plan; 

  2. Work out the raw materials you need and get your supply-chain up and running with production planning processes;  

  3. Now you’re ready to develop a master production schedule proposal. This is like a rough draft to see if your MPS is workable; 

  4. Use a rough-cut capacity planning technique to calculate if you have the capacity to meet your proposed MPS. Continue using this technique to continuously assess if your capacity can meet demand when your master production schedule is in action; and

  5. If your master production schedule proposal is workable, you then evaluate it with regards to customer service, effective use of resources, and inventory investment.

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to authorize this as your business’ official MPS. Keep monitoring your business’ performance to see if everything is working as it should.  

Let’s go through a master production example for a leather workshop selling bags.  

To keep it simple we will look at just two products, with two variations each, making four SKUs in total.  

  • — This workshop’s on-hand inventory is displayed at the top;  

  • — The projected demand is added below; and  

  • — The production quantity is then calculated based on current inventory, demand, and capacity.  

First let’s see how this looks in a run-of-the-mill master production schedule that thousands of business currently use.

A master production schedule example that shows the style of MPS that many businesses still use. Although everything is there, such sheets can be difficult to read, update, and vulnerable to errors.


One downside to this approach, apart from it being hard on the eyes, is that the master production schedule is not dynamic. It doesn’t change based on actual orders and capacity. You have to update it yourself as it is based in a spreadsheet program. Excel is inefficient and vulnerable to business-harming errors.

There’s a better way.  

Here is the same plan, but displayed with clarity (and the production manager’s sanity) in mind.

Katana’s MPS system is a steady flow, not a fire hydrant of data. It prioritizes your schedule so you see what’s important. Of course, you can see everything at once too.

Much better. This is the “Make” screen in Katana. It does everything an MPS does, and some extra things like automatically update orders and inventory.

All the information you require from a master production schedule is on display:

All the information you need is here - amounts, production time, deadlines. You can access the bill of materials for any manufacturing order by clicking on the row you want to access.

Every staff member also has their own personalized schedule.

EXTRA TIP: Click on “All Dates” below “Production Deadline” (3rd column from the right) to change the date range. You can review your schedule for the current day and the next seven days. In fact, you can set “Custom Dates” to customize your master production schedule as much as you need.

See how subtle changes can make all the difference?  

But what about your raw materials planning?

Easy. Click on an MO (that’s manufacturing order) field to open up a detailed breakdown of its schedule.

This is the manufacturing order (MO) card in Katana. It is the part of the master production schedule that contains the bill of materials (BOM) and product recipe. It is very useful as it contains all your quantities and process, so you or your staff are never lost for how to produce something. It’s all clearly laid out here.

The product is split up into every part and component, which is given its own deadline for completion.

This is an advanced tool that makes sure you never slip up on the details. It keeps you running to your schedule.

Finally, you can review your staff members’ schedules. Do this by clicking on “Tasks” in the “Make” screen (the make screen is the central hub for your master production schedule).

The production schedule for each person in your team is laid out clearly.

Everyone has a job to do for every minute of every day. You just need to decide when to break for lunch.

When no time is wasted or lost, you’ll find you get your orders done much quicker.

This is the “Tasks” screen in Katana which shows you all necessary operations for open MOs. You can assign and reassign tasks in a matter of seconds using a drag-and-drop system. All processes and sub-processes are scheduled so you know how long production will take, and hit your deadlines.

The trick is to find master production scheduling software that doesn’t make you shudder with dread when you open it. Seriously — the better you feel about your software, the more motivated you will feel to learn it thoroughly, and the more likely you are to use it effectively.

Now it’s Your Turn: Master Production Scheduling for Your Business 

Can you see how this could help your business?  

You are now aware of: 

  • — The main functions of master production schedule;  

  • — The importance of master production schedule; and 

  • — The master production schedule process.  

The theory lesson is over. Now it’s time to apply it to your business.  

Can this be done in a spreadsheet package like Excel? Yes, it can, but you may find out that things spiral out of control when your demand goes up. Master production schedule objectives include keeping you in control of your production.  

It’s safer for your business to use software that was built for this job. Katana works with your existing accounting and e-commerce applications so you are all set.   

Now you have a smooth workflow thanks to master production and scheduling, you can even set up that Shopify store you’ve been meaning to do. And if you do so, make sure to learn about Shopify inventory management best practices and to implement a suitable Shopify order management software.

Have your master production schedule on hand at all times with Katana.   

You’ve Mastered the Master Production Schedule, Now What? 

Now you have learned about MPS and how to create a master production schedule for your business, you might be wondering what’s next. 

You are well on the way to turning your expertise in master production scheduling into manufacturing gold! 

Your master production scheduling needs are covered with Katana.  

Use the best MRP software for manufacturers knowing all your customer orders are in safe hands.  

Try for free here. 

Alina AkkComment