How to Use ERP to Manage Supply Chain Scheduling

OK, your new ERP is plugged in and running nicely. All the basics are accomplished, people are hard at work, and you didn’t miss any orders. Now it is time to get some real payoff and ERP supply chain scheduling is just the place to focus next.

Master Data

Look at your master data first. Be sure lead times for all your purchased materials and services are accurately recorded. Scheduling is off immediately if your supply chain ERP thinks a part will be here in 21 days and it arrives tomorrow.

Get your routings right along with setup and run times for each operation. Understand move and queue offsets. If an operation will be performed on the 22nd, you want your parts required to be on hand, inspected, kitted, and ready to use. Make sure your inventory is accurate. Your schedule will be lost if you don’t have that part and haven’t even placed the purchase order because you thought you had it already.

Demand Planning

Next, look downstream and get your demands in order. ERP runs on sales order and forecast demands. Be sure sales orders are correct to quantity and delivery dates. If the customer wants ten weekly deliveries of 15 units each, enter the order that way and not a single demand for 150 units. You can make it or buy it all at once if that fits your production or stocking models but the demand side should be accurate.

If the customer wants a delivery in two weeks but you know you can’t deliver for two months, tell the customer up front and plan your order around realistic dates. Carrying 99% of the order in inventory until the last 1% is available is a waste and might even stress your suppliers unnecessarily.

Upstream Supply

Look upstream now to your suppliers. Be a good customer to each of them. Be easy to do business with and provide them with information to help them help you. Show them the planned purchases generated by the supply chain ERP module. They will understand it is not an order but they can use that information to make informed decisions on their own stocking levels and capacity investments.

Develop a portal or use EDI so that data and information can flow freely between you and your suppliers. Just like you, they will provide the best service and quickest deliveries to their favorite customers. Your EDI communicated purchase order will flow directly into their ERP and can continue flowing through to their production systems. They will respond with timely and accurate ASNs and you will be able to use the materials purchased immediately because it fits well with your production and stocking needs.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at

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Tom Miller

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