Finding software can be overwhelming. We've helped dozens of production managers choose the right production scheduling software to help them track and manage capacity and scheduling.

Showing 1-20 of 201 products

NetSuiteFrontRunners 2020

NetSuite Manufacturing Edition offers an integrated inventory, warehouse management, accounting and financial management, order management, customer relationship management (CRM), and e-commerce platform. Offered as a cloud-based solution... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 110 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Fishbowl ManufacturingFrontRunners 2020

Fishbowl Manufacturing is a business automation and inventory management platform for small to midsize manufacturing companies. The app offers QuickBooks integration for accounting management, as well as tools for inventory control,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 94 recommendations

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Deployments: CloudOn premise
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E2 Shop SystemFrontRunners 2020

E2 by Shoptech Corporation is a manufacturing solution that offers scheduling, purchasing, shipping, customer management and accounting. It’s designed specifically for job shops, contract and a variety of make-to-order manufacturers. E2... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 56 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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KatanaFrontRunners 2020

Katana is a leading modern manufacturing and inventory software for scaling businesses. Users can automate workflows with Katana's visual interface and smart auto-booking engine, which allows businesses to prioritize orders and see... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 36 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Global Shop Solutions

Global Shop Solutions offers ERP software to serve clients across manufacturing industries of all sizes. The multi-modular application is comprised of independent modules for customer relationship management, inventory management,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 33 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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JobBOSSFrontRunners 2020

JobBOSS Shop Management Solutions, an ECi Software Solutions company, is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution built for small and midsize manufacturers in North America. It allows key office and production staff to manage... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 32 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Brahmin Solutions

Brahmin Solutions is a cloud-based Inventory and MRP software for fast-growing SMBs. The product is designed for manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers to manage all operations dealing with purchasing, sales, inventory, and manufacturing... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 32 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Infor VISUAL

Infor VISUAL is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System with end-to-end functionality built for manufacturing organizations looking for a complete solution that supports the entire operational lifecycle, from planning to sourcing,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 25 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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QT9 ERP

QT9 ERP is a highly-scalable manufacturing platform for connecting and automating business data from multiple systems into one scalable and intuitive solution. QT9 ERP integrates inventory management, accounting management, sales management,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 21 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Fulcrum

Fulcrum is a cloud-based platform serving small/mid-sized manufacturers and job shops looking for a software platform that truly understands them and their unique, complicated processes. Humans weren’t meant to transcribe data from... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 21 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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ECi M1

ECi M1 is a subscription-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, available on-premise or via the cloud, that automates financials, inventory, production, sales/quoting and production planning. The solution is suitable for... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 17 recommendations

Platforms: Win
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Henning Visual EstiTrack ERP

Henning Software has helped small to midsize manufacturers and job shops for 30 years. Visual EstiTrack ERP has complete material requirements planning, product lifecycle, supply chain, customer relationship, human resource and manufacturing... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 17 recommendations

Platforms: Win
Deployments: On premise
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DELMIAworksFrontRunners 2020

IQMS’ flagship product, EnterpriseIQ ERP, is developed specifically for SMB and large discrete, and batch process manufacturers in the aerospace, medical device, automotive, food and beverage, consumer products, plastics, packaging... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 14 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Mar-Kov CMS

Mar-Kov CMS (Chemical Management System) is a cloud-based process manufacturing solution for process, batch, and formulation based manufacturers. The solution can also be installed on-premise to automate daily routine processes of... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 13 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Made2Manage ERP

Aptean Made2Manage ERP is designed for manufacturers in job shops and dynamic “to-order” and mixed-mode environments. It's suitable for SMB manufacturers in industries like industrial equipment, electronics and fabricated metal,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

Platforms: Win
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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Vicinity Software

Vicinity Software is a cloud-based or on-premise solution designed for process manufacturers with a specific focus on food & beverage (VicinityFood), chemical (VicinityChem) and breweries (VicinityBrew). Features include MRP, centralized... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 12 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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RealtracFrontRunners 2020

Realtrac is an on-premise job management solution designed for job shop manufacturers and modular machine shops. It helps small and midsize manufacturers to schedule workflows, manage shop operations, track inventories, manage purchases... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 10 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: CloudOn premise
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ProdsmartFrontRunners 2020

Prodsmart is a cloud-based real-time production tracking and management solution designed for businesses in the manufacturing and fabrication industries. Features include shop floor real-time data collection, production analysis,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 8 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
Deployments: Cloud
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Sage 100cloudFrontRunners 2020

Sage 100cloud is a market-leading cloud-connected ERP platform for medium-sized manufacturers, distributors, and professional service businesses. Financials, budgeting and planning, inventory, supply chain, production management, reporting,... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

Platforms: Win
Deployments: Cloud
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Datacor ERP

Datacor ERP (formerly Chempax) is an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) application designed specifically for chemical process manufacturers and distributors. The solution can be... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 7 recommendations

Platforms: MacWinLinux
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Buyers guide


Last Updated: December 3, 2020

When standard manufacturing resource planning (MRP) tools are not powerful enough, production managers turn to more robust and more complicated, production planning and scheduling systems (aka “advanced planning & scheduling”). These best-of-breed planning systems use advanced mathematical models to better simulate the production environment. We wrote this buyer’s guide to help buyers unravel the web of manufacturing planning and scheduling solutions.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Manufacturing Production Planning and Scheduling Software?
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Common Functionality
Benefits and Potential Issues
Market Trends to Understand

What Is Manufacturing Production Planning and Scheduling Software?

“Theory is closer to practice in theory than in practice” is a truism in complex manufacturing. Manufacturing resource planning software is used by manufacturers to allocate raw materials and plan production. MRP works well for manufacturers that have large runs or few products. However, the planning methodologies used by most MRP applications cannot handle the demands of large numbers of small runs of products, orders that change frequently or large numbers of make-to-order (MTO) or customized products. That’s where manufacturing and planning scheduling software comes in.

Manufacturing scheduling software extends MRP in four important ways.

  • Instead of using total capacity as a baseline for each set of planning calculations, it uses available capacity. The difference is that MRP assumes that no other work is happening, while planning and scheduling systems constrains planning based on jobs that are already scheduled.
  • MRP uses simple formulas to project times to complete. Planning and scheduling solutions use more complex models, often running several different scenarios to create a more realistic simulation.
  • MRP tends to take stepped approach to ordering: materials are ordered, received, and then production begins.  Planning and scheduling programs incorporate order lead time when planning the manufacturing planning process. 
  • MRP does not consider the value of particular jobs. All jobs are treated equally. Manufacturing planning and scheduling systems, on the other hand, factors in the profitability of each of the jobs and prioritizes the most profitable jobs.

Manufacturing schedule software is best suited to operations that specialize in MTO or assemble to order (ATO) operations and in agile facilities. They are also useful for organizations that use a large number of components or have complex tasks. Finally, they are critical for firms that have a limited facility that is shared among different product lines that are competing for resources.

Inventory manager dashboard screenshot in Netsuite

Inventory manager dashboard in Netsuite

What Type of Buyer Are You?

The first step in evaluating production planning software is to determine what kind of buyer you are. Over 90 percent of buyers fall into one of these three groups:

Enterprise resource planning suite buyer. These buyers value the seamless integration of data and processes that comes from having one system for all functions. For example, they would prefer a full-suite system for estimating, work-in-progress management and accounting that can automatically turn an estimate into a budget for project management, and then match invoices to project status and allocate job costs. These buyers favor ERP software vendors like Oracle, SAP, Sage ERP or Microsoft Dynamics.

Departmental buyer. These buyers work in facilities that are shared by product lines from different vendors. They are balancing demands from different product managers and must schedule production and justify the schedule to peers and management.

Small manufacturer. Small organizations often have limited budgets and fewer IT resources to dedicate to software. In many cases, they may be deciding between a new system and a new piece of equipment. These buyers need cost-effective solutions that are easy to implement and use. They are seeking solutions that maximize the profitability of their plant or job shop.

 

Common Functionality

Production planning and scheduling software is highly complex, and different vendors specialize in various areas of niche functionality. The following table, however, shows the core features of this software category:

Finite capacity scheduling Complex algorithms allow you to forecast the completion of jobs based on limitations on resources, instead of scheduling jobs without regard to such constraints.
Gantt charts Gantt charts display resource utilization.
Live capacity planning Instead of determining the production schedule in advance, which can result in bottlenecks, you can adjust the schedule in real time as issues occur.
Visual, drag-and-drop scheduling You can easily get a visual overview of the production scheduling. New work orders can be dragged and dropped into the schedule, which updates the overall production schedule.
Multiple scheduling priorities You can assign different priority levels to individual jobs/orders when setting the production schedule.
“What if” scenario modeling Manufacturing production planning and scheduling software supports forecasting via multiple “what-if” scenarios.

Benefits and Potential Issues

MRP systems, whether stand-alone or incorporated in an ERP system, offer distinct benefits over less formal systems. These include:

Better use of equipment. Manufacturing planning and scheduling systems increase company utilization of equipment. For example, the system can prioritize the use of the most expensive equipment to lower that equipment’s cost per project or can prioritize the less expensive equipment to decrease costs across jobs. 

Increased profitability. The combination of increasing utilization and prioritizing the more profitable jobs leads to increased profitability.

Identifying bottlenecks. Planning and scheduling systems can identify bottlenecks and their associated procedures or equipment, giving managers an opportunity to boost productivity even further by adding machines or updating methodologies.

One of the biggest issues that arrive from using production planning and scheduling systems is the tendency for managers to “tweak” the system’s recommendations. This can lead to suboptimal results. If the planning and scheduling system continually gives information with which the manager disagrees, the assumptions must be re-examined or the manager should receive additional training.

Market Trends to Understand

While you evaluate production planning and scheduling systems, make sure you consider these market trends:

Convergence with MRP. As the power of desktop computing continues to grow, traditional MRP systems are adding advance planning functions to their toolkits. Planning algorithms that were once only found in high-end planning systems are now in more moderately priced MRP or ERP systems.

Direct interface with shop floor equipment. Some planning and scheduling systems can get utilization information from equipment, either directly or through the manufacturing execution system. This provides two advantages, the information is more current and it does not have to be entered by hand.

Increased employee satisfaction. Production planning systems can consider employee preferences when allocating resources to a job, allowing employees to work preferred hours or on preferred jobs.

Planning using data visualization. Traditional MRP systems produce reports and planning schedules. Manufacturing planning and scheduling systems do, too, but they are also beginning to offer other visualization tools, such as graphical comparisons of the results of different models.

FrontRunners

Your Guide to Top Manufacturing Production Planning & Scheduling Software, September 2020

Software Advice uses reviews from real software users to highlight the top-rated Production Scheduling Software products in North America.

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“Usability” includes user ratings for Functionality and Ease of Use.“Customer Satisfaction” includes user ratings for Customer Support, Likelihood to Recommend and Value for Money.Reviews analysis period: The reviews analysis period spans two years and ends on the 15th of the month prior to publication.