This week’s episode is a special edition of the Business Central Manufacturing Show. Last week, hosted our online event called “next by NETRONIC – session 2”. The idea of the “next” events is to talk about topics, not about products as well as to discuss with each other rather than to have a 1-way demo. Hence, last week’s event was a panel discussion in which we looked at the constant battle between production planning and scheduling.
The discussion was led by Martin Karlowitsch, and his guests were experienced Business Central manufacturing experts. If you took some time to attend our event – a big thank you from all of us at NETRONIC, if not then please enjoy this podcast.
The panelists were first Peik Bech-Andersen from Denmark, who is the author of the book “manufacturing with Dynamics NAV” and who has been working with NAV and Dynamics 365 Business Central since 1984. Second, we welcomed James Crowter from the UK, who is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) and Managing Director of Technology Management. Third, they were joined by Mike Fontaine from Canada, who is a solutions expert with 20+ years of ERP software and manufacturing experience from VOX ISM in Canada.
The expert panel started by discussing if they agree with the general existence of a constant battle between production planning and scheduling. There was a consensus from our panel that this battle does exist and that it is something that isn’t as simple as one usually thinks. Understanding the material requirements planning and getting it right, requires a lot of fine-tuning. Especially when taking into consideration the different policies that exist within a company. Oftentimes, when the material requirements planning is not done correctly, you see a lot of confusion and sometimes you will even see customers moving back to using Microsoft Excel. If this happens, planning and scheduling no longer are aligned … and the battle kicks in.
Preparing for the event, we sent out a questionnaire to everybody who registered. The majority of the Dynamics 365 Business Central customers who attended said that only one person handles both: planning and scheduling in their organizations. James assessed that it might cause problems if only one person is handling both parts of the business. The organization would become too dependent on that one person, which might cause some issues later on. Peik put this into perspective when he mentioned the only way to eat an elephant is when you take small bites. He said that he’s seen a lot of success from companies that divide responsibilities between MPS and MRP since they are split up into manageable sizes.
In terms of the tools used to manage planning and scheduling, we heard a lot of feedback not just from our customers and partners, but also from our panel. Despite the abundance of ERP software, we still see a lot of companies using Excel. The panel shared their views on Excel, and why it remains popular, and why they advise against it.
- Everyone knows how to use it
- Great analysis tool
- Excel is not bidirectional (at least if used for planning and scheduling)
- Completely outside the ERP system, usually duplicating work
- Often too personalized and not transferable between colleagues
- Excel is not a data storage tool
- The eternal question as to whether the Excel file is up to date or not
James explained the importance of planning and scheduling by saying that getting it right is the “Holy Grail” for most manufacturing companies. Getting customer satisfaction by having the right inventory at the right place at the right time, is exactly why manufacturing companies invest in ERP systems.
According to Mike, it is software such as Business Central that can help customers with their planning and scheduling, specifically balancing their sales forecast, inventory, machines, and manpower. With the rise in popularity of the cloud subscription option, BC is so much more affordable for small manufacturers these days.
The most important first step to successfully implement the planning and scheduling portion of an ERP solution is to have good communication between teams, (i.e. sales and production). It is also important for companies to first look at easy wins or as we say “low hanging fruit”. This allows for quick progress, for the organization to start trusting the system, and buy-in from the skeptical colleagues. It is important to change the mentality of the team by giving them concrete examples early on and to not be too ambitious. James stated, “Less info that is right is better than lots of info that is rubbish.” By doing this, it is easy to start turning the tide and enabling people.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The difference between planning (MRP) and scheduling
- Best practices on how both planning and scheduling should be managed
- Tools for planning and scheduling – hint: it’s not Excel 😊
- The importance of planning and scheduling to an organization
- The little things that can make a difference in everyday use of planning and scheduling
- Best way to get started on planning and scheduling implementation
What to listen for:
- [01:00] Battle between scheduling and planning
- [05:00] Responsibilities of the master planner versus the scheduling person
- [09:00] How should the communication between the master planner and scheduler happen in reality?
- [10:00] What tools should be used to handle the schedule? Should Excel still be used to managed production scheduling?
- [18:00] Planning & scheduling – how important are they to manufacturing companies?
- [20:00] Why is BC the right solution if manufacturers look for both planning & scheduling?
- [26:00] What is the first step to implementing new ERP software that does planning/scheduling such as Business Central?