This article explains the basic workflow in Katana from sales, manufacturing to purchasing. It is part of the Basics of Katana series of articles that are recommended if you are just starting with Katana.  

Tip: Before proceeding, we suggest having a look at the Basics of Katana screens article, which gives some basic knowledge on Katana menu items and supports the understanding of flows. In addition, we suggest reading the Basics of Inventory Management in Katana.

Most crafters, makers, and small manufacturers apply one of the following business models: Make to Order, Make to Stock or a mixed approach. Katana supports all those approaches and we suggest following a slightly different workflow in Katana in each case.

This is what we mean by the mentioned concepts:

- In a Make to Order (MTO) situation, a company starts making the product only when a customer order is received, and no products are kept in stock.

- Make to Stock (MTS) approach means keeping a certain number of products in stock to ensure faster delivery and/or increase production efficiency. 

In this article, we describe a workflow for a company that uses MTO and MTS in combination, meaning that some products are Made to Stock and some Made to Order. This gives you a more comprehensive overview of Katana functionalities and possibilities. 

Tip: If you are purely Making to Order, we suggesting reading this article instead. If you are only Making to Stock, please refer to this article

Step 1 – Sales Order

Katana helps to fulfill customer orders on time, avoid any problems in the production process or any delays related to out-of-stocks. As customer always comes first, we start explaining the workflow from the "Sell" screen.

The "Sell" screen lists all your open Sales Orders. Those can either be synced from your e-commerce channels (e.g. Shopify) or created in Katana manually.

In the "Sell" screen, you get a clear overview of the status of all your Sales Orders and can take action if necessary. You can track Product Availability, Material Availability, Production status and Delivery status for each order. Read more about Using the Sell screen.

If you are making products to order, Product Availability for a Sales Order will initially show "Not available" as you are not keeping any products in stock for immediate delivery. If you are Making to stock and keeping a large enough safety stock for products, Product Availability should show "In stock" as the products should be typically made before receiving the order.

Material Availability status in the "Sell" screen indicates whether all the materials required to make the ordered products are "In stock", "Expected" or "Not available". You can open a Sales Order and click on a Material Availability status for any missing product to see a more detailed missing materials list.

In case Product Availability for any Sales Orders shows "Not available", you need to start making the missing products. 

Step 2 – Schedule the production

There are two ways to schedule production in Katana: either "Make to order" or "Make to stock". In both cases, a Manufacturing Order will be added to the "Schedule" in the "Make" screen. This is the production schedule for your workshop, listing all Manufacturing Orders for products that need to be made. You can drag-and-drop orders to change production priorities. Read more about Using the Schedule.

Make to Order: By clicking "Make to order" for a specific Sales Order in the "Sell" screen, Manufacturing Orders will be added to the "Schedule" for all the products required by the Sales Order. The Production status for the Sales Order will change to "Not started" and Product Availability will change to "Expected".

A Manufacturing Order created via the "Make to order" button will be permanently linked to the related Sales Order. This means that the priority of orders is also linked between "Sell" and "Make" screens. When you drag-and-drop Sales Orders to change their priority, the production schedule in the "Schedule" view will be updated accordingly, and vice versa. 

Make to stock: If you are making to stock, we suggest using the "Missing/Excess" value in the "Stock" screen to determine the right quantity of products to make. "Missing/Excess" is calculated based on all open Sales Orders, Manufacturing Orders and Reorder Points for each product. Use the "+ Make" button for a product directly in the "Stock" screen to create a Manufacturing Order for the missing quantity of a product. Read more about Understanding the Stock screen.

Tip: In Katana, optimal stock levels for products can be managed using Reorder Points as it's used in the "Missing/Excess" calculation. Here’s How to set Reorder Points and How to calculate appropriate Reorder Points.

You can also Make to Stock by clicking on the global "+" sign and selecting "+ Make to stock". This will open a new Manufacturing Order card where you can select a product and a quantity to make.

Manufacturing Orders that are making to stock are not linked to any Sales Orders.

Sales Orders for which you are not Making to Order book products based on Sales Order prioritiesEven when you have some quantity of the required product in stock, the Product Availability for a particular Sales Order might still show "Not available" if another higher priority Sales Order has already reserved the same product. Change the priority of Sales Orders with drag-and-drop to trigger Product Availability recalculations. This gives you the flexibility to reorganize your sales and immediately see the Product Availability effect on all other sales orders if a certain order is prioritized to the top.  

Note: Sales Orders for which you are not Making to Order initially check if there are any required products available in stock. If not, then Katana checks whether any required products are currently being Made to Stock.

Sales Orders for which you are Making to Order do not book any products available in stock or products Made to Stock, i.e. they do not take part in booking products based on priorities.

Even when the Product Availability shows that you have enough products in stock for a Sales Order, you can still start Making to Order. You can use this approach if you have products in stock, but for some reason do not wish to use products from current stock to fulfill a certain Sales Order. Click on the "Make to order" button next to a Sales Order to create a new Manufacturing Order that is linked to this Sales Order.

Next, you need to make sure that you have enough materials (i.e. ingredients, components) to make the scheduled products.

Step 3 – Track material requirements

To manage material requirements, you need to create Product Recipes for products. This enables tracking Material Availability statuses for products on Sales and Manufacturing Orders. Click on a Manufacturing Order in the "Schedule" to see a detailed ingredients list and Material Availability at an ingredient level. Or open a Sales Order and click on a Material Availability status for any product for which the Product Availablity status is "Not Available", which will give you a list of materials missing for making the missing product.

Material Availability status indicates whether you have the required materials "In stock", "Expected" from suppliers or "Not available". 

Tip: Even when products are Made to Order, many businesses typically keep a certain amount of raw materials in stock to satisfy production needs. We suggest using Reorder Points for materials in Katana to ensure an optimal stock level for materials at all times. Here’s How to set Reorder Points and How to calculate appropriate Reorder Points.

Material Availability status always considers the priority of orders. There are no permanent links between orders and materials you have in stock or expected from suppliers. You can drag-and-drop orders in the "Sell" screen or "Schedule" view to change the priority.

Even when you have a certain amount of the required ingredient in stock, the Material Availability for an order might still show "Not available" if another higher priority order also needs the same ingredient. Changing the priority of orders triggers Material Availability recalculations. This gives you the flexibility to change the priorities of customer orders and higher priority orders will always be the first to take the existing or expected materials.

If the Material Availability status for any order is "Not available", you need to purchase the missing materials.

Step 4 – Purchase the missing materials

Click on a Manufacturing Order to see the required ingredients list based on the Product Recipe. Create a new Purchase Order by clicking "+ Buy" for the ingredient or by clicking on the global "+" sign and selecting "+ Buy materials".

Materials can be purchased also from the missing materials list for a product that is not available for a Sales Order. Click on the Material Availability status on a Sales Order to open the missing materials list.

You can also create Purchase Orders from the "Inventory" list in the "Stock" screen. Just like with products, keep your eye on the "Missing/Excess" quantity. It is calculated based on all open Sales Orders, Manufacturing Orders, Purchase Orders and Reorder Points for each material. Use the "+ Buy" button for a material directly in the "Stock" screen to create a Purchase Order for the missing quantity of a material. Read more about Understanding the Stock screen.

As described above, materials expected from Purchase Orders are not permanently linked to any Sales or Manufacturing Orders. Material Availability for orders always considers their priorities.

Purchase Orders are added to the "Buy" screen in Katana. Here you can manage the Delivery status for all Purchase Orders.

Purchase Orders cannot be sent directly from Katana to the supplier. Create a PDF of the Purchase Order by clicking on the "Print" icon at the top corner of the Purchase Order card. Attach the PDF to an e-mail message and send it to the supplier using your preferred e-mail service provider.

Step 5 – Receive the materials

When the materials arrive in your warehouse, mark Purchase Orders as "Received", and materials will be added to your stock. The Material Availability status for a Sales Order in the "Sell" screen or a Manufacturing Order in the "Schedule" will change to "In stock" when you have all the required ingredients in stock.

Step 6 – Make the product

You can manage production activities at different levels of detail in Katana: at a Manufacturing Order level or at a more detailed Production Operations level.

If your production is managed at the Manufacturing Order level, the team members who are making the products can use the "Schedule" as their production plan. Start working on the Manufacturing Orders from the top of the list and work your way down. Mark the Production status to "Work in progress" if you start working on making the product and mark it "Done" when you are finished.

If you are looking to manage the tasks for your team members or workstations at a more detailed step-by-step operations level, you can use the "Tasks" list in the "Make" screen. Firstly, you need to define Production Operations for your products to make use of the "Tasks" list. Production Operations are specific steps that need to be completed to make the product (e.g. cutting, assembly, packaging).

You can assign each operation to a Resource (e.g. employee, workstation). In this case, each Resource can use the "Tasks" list as their detailed to-do list. The "Tasks" list groups the Production Operations related to open Manufacturing Orders by Resource.

When the last Production Operation for a product is completed, the Production status for a Manufacturing Order will change to "Done" automatically.

Note: Read more about Managing the production process, Production Operation statuses, and Managing tasks for Resources.

When the production of a Manufacturing Order is finished, products will be added to your stock.

Note that products Made to Order will stay linked directly to the underlying Sales Order and cannot be used by any other Sales Orders. Products Made to Stock can be booked by any open Sales Orders.

Step 7 – Ship out the product

The Product Availability status for a Sales Order in the "Sell" screen will change to "In stock" when you have all the required products in stock. You can ship out those orders.

If you wish to track products that are packed but not yet shipped out, mark the Delivery status for a Sales Order as "Packed". When products are shipped out, mark the Sales Order as "Delivered".


In addition, we suggest reading the Basics of Inventory Management in Katana.