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Material Planning Process
You: As I mentioned on the phone, I’ve been tasked with mapping the material planning process for the muesli product line. My assumption is that process starts with you, is that correct?
Jane: Yes, we produce forecasts for that product line on a quarterly basis.
You: What is your title?
Jane: Senior Analyst.
You: Tell me about your role in that process.
Jane: OK, well, in the week before the end of each quarter I use the forecast program built into the SOP module in SAP to generate the forecast. The system has historical sales data and we use the last two years to generate the forecast. Do you want to know the technical details?
You: No that’s OK. I’m more interested in the steps in the process. After you generate the forecast, what’s next?
Jane: I check the forecast for consistency with previous trends, you know, to see if anything looks unusual. If everything looks OK, I save it. The next step is to get the inventory requirements report from Planning.
You: What’s that?
Jane: The Planning department creates a three month plan of required inventory levels.
You: Do you know who’s responsible for that report?
Jane: John Smith, he’s the chief planner.
You: OK, what do you do next?
Jane: I enter the inventory numbers and then use SOP to generate the production plan. If it looks OK, I save it.
You: That’s it?
Jane: Well, I inform John in the Planning department.
You: Thank you, Jane, if I need anything else, I’ll be in touch.
You: Hello John, I spoke with Jane in Analysis. She explained the forecasting process and mentioned that, once she saves the production plan, she informs you.
John: That’s right.
You: What do you do next?
John: I check the plan to make sure it meets the inventory requirements.
You: What if you find a problem?
John: I send it back to Jane to make corrections.
You: What if everything looks good?
John: I use the SAP system to transfer the plan to Demand Management.
You: What is Demand Management?
John: That’s the part of the system used to manage material availability. You should talk to Kathy White, she’s the MRP Controller. She can explain it to you.
You: Thank you John.
You: Kathy, I’m trying to map the material planning process for the muesli line and John Smith suggested I talk to you.
Kathy: He did, did he?
You: Yes, he said you were a MRP Controller. Can you tell what your responsibilities are?
Kathy: An MRP Controller is responsible for managing all the things that can affect material availability. Things like requirements from the planning process, customer orders, purchase orders. Anything that can use or provide a material. I’m the MRP Controller for the muesli line so I’m responsible for making sure we have the product to sell.
You: Can you tell me what you do when a production plan is transferred to Demand Management?
Kathy: The first thing I do is check to make sure there isn’t something unusual.
You: If you see anything unusual, what do you do?
Kathy: I call John to make sure it’s correct?
You: Once everything is correct, then what?
Kathy: I run MRP.
You: What’s MRP?
Kathy: MRP looks at all the requirements for material, like forecasts and customer orders, and looks supplies of materials, like production orders and purchase orders and then it create procurement proposals. It figures out how to acquire the material we need and then creates a procurement schedule to make sure we have the material when we need it.
You: For the muesli line, what are those procurement proposals?
Kathy: Planned production orders.
You: What’s next?
Kathy: Well, before we can begin production, a planned production order has to be converted to a production order but we don’t convert them all at once. The Production department would be overwhelmed. I convert planned production orders to production orders a week before the schedule production date. Once that’s done, it’s out of my hands. The Production department takes over.
You: So that’s the end of the planning process for muesli.
Kathy: That’s it. The rest of actual production.
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