In make to order production environments, the master planning level is crucial to determine order delivery dates, and to plan capacity and materials. It is surprising that most attention recently goes to Sales & Operations Planning, whereas Master Planning is a more complex planning function, more difficult to implement, and closer to the actual operation. The Master Plan should be the main interface between sales representatives and planners, and the lower control levels, such as schedulers, should not communicate with sales. Because, when they would, the result would be that schedulers need to decide on commercial priorities, without seeing the big picture and without having the tools to make such decisions. Many companies, however, are allowing commercial representatives to approach schedulers or even start chasing orders in execution. I even know companies that employ ‘order coaches’ who will chase individual orders, based on worried phone calls and emails from the sales department. This practice is not only inefficient, it is also completely counter productive. It will disrupt the planning process, it will make sure that the most assertive sales representatives gets orders through. I have seen companies dealing with large delays, where planners, schedulers, order chasers, are monitoring the progress of orders day by day. They hold off all other work as they are busy and ‘all hands on deck’. And some planning managers actually believe that this rain dance will have an effect. In any company with good planning practices, it should not be allowed to chase orders. Only a plan that takes into account priorities of all orders should be executed.
Master Planning, yes. Order chasing, no.