Workflow Basics

The essentials of workflows in Katana: Setting up processes, tracking progress, and managing resources efficiently for smoother operations.

Dayvid Lorbiecke avatar
Written by Dayvid Lorbiecke
Updated over a week ago

To get the most out of Katana, you’ll want a good workflow right from the start. This article explains how to set up a basic workflow from sales to manufacturing to purchasing.

Tip: Before beginning, we suggest looking at Basics of Katana screens to gain some general knowledge about Katana’s layout to help you better understand the flows. We also recommend reading the Basics of Inventory Management.

Most crafters, makers, and small manufacturers will use a Make-to-Order, Make-to-Stock, or a mixed approach business model. Katana supports all 3 with a slightly different workflow for each.

Manufacturing business models:

Make-to-Order (MTO): when a company begins making a product only after a customer order is received so that products aren't kept in stock

Make-to-Stock (MTS): for companies keeping a certain number of products always in stock to guarantee faster delivery and/or increase production efficiency

In this article, we’ll describe a workflow that incorporates both MTO and MTS models, so some products will be Made-to-Stock while others are Made-to-Order. Using this model, you’ll have a more comprehensive overview of Katana’s functionalities and capabilities.

We suggest reading our MTO workflow article if your manufacturing model is purely MTO and the MTS workflow article if you’d rather use an MTS model.

7 steps to build a combination MTO/MTS workflow

Step 1: Creating a Sales order

You’ll want a workflow that helps you complete customer orders on time, avoid problems in the production process, and avoid delays related to stock running out. A workflow that puts the customer first. With that in mind, let’s begin the workflow from the Sell screen.

Shows that the Sell screen is selected in Katana

On the Sell screen, you’ll see a list of all your open Sales orders (SO), giving a clear overview of SO statuses and letting you know if actions are needed. From here, you can also check out item and ingredient availability and the production and delivery statuses for each order.

View of the statuses in the Sell screen

For Make-to-Order, the Sales items status column on a SO will initially show Not available because products aren’t kept in stock for immediate delivery. If you’re going with Make-to-Stock and keep enough stock for products, Sales items status should show In stock since products are typically made before receiving the order. If the Sales items availability for a SO shows Not available, you will need to create a Manufacturing order (MO) to make the missing products.

Highlighting the statuses of Sales items in the Sell screen

The Ingredients availability column shows In stock, Expected, or Not available statuses depending on the availability of the materials required to make an ordered product. For a more detailed view of either product or ingredient availability, open a SO

and click on any item’s Sales items or Ingredients statuses.

Highlighting the Ingredients statuses in the Sell screen

Learn more about using the Sell screen.

Step 2: Schedule Your Production

In this step, we start making the products needed for the order.

All scheduled production in Katana is either Make-to-Order (MTO) or Make-to-Stock (MTS). For both MTO and MTS, a MO is added to the Schedule tab on the Make screen. The Schedule tab displays your production schedule, listing all manufacturing orders for products that need to be made. To change production priorities, simply drag and drop a MO.

Shows that the Schedule tab on the Make screen is selected

Learn more about using the Schedule.

If you head back to the Sell screen, you’ll see under the Production column a + Make… option for any SO without an associated MO. Click on this and choose Make to order. A MO will be added to the Make screen’s Schedule tab for all the products required by this SO. The SO’s Production status will also change to Not started, and your product’s (items/ingredients) availability will change to Expected.

Highlights the button to create a manufacturing order
Shows the expected status of items

Any MO created through the Make to order option will be permanently linked to the associated SO. This means that the priority of orders is also linked between the Sell and Make screens. When you drag and drop sales orders to change their priority, the production schedule in the Schedule tab will also update accordingly, and vice versa.

If making to stock, we suggest using the Missing / Excess value on the Stock screen to determine the number of products to make. Missing / Excess numbers are calculated based on all open Sales orders, Manufacturing orders, and Reorder points for each product. To create a MO for the missing quantity of a product, click on + Make on the row of the product you want to make.

Shows that the Stock screen is selected

Learn more about using the Stock screen.

Tip: In Katana, optimal stock levels for products can be managed using Reorder points which are applied to the Missing / Excess calculation. Learn 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 + Manufacturing order. This will open a new MO card where you can choose a product and the quantity to make. Make-to-Stock Manufacturing orders won’t be linked to a SO.

Quick menu for creating documents

Make-to-Stock Sales orders will display product availability based on the SO priority level.

A SO may show Not available under Product availability even when you have some of the required product in stock because another SO has higher priority and has already reserved the product. You can change SO priority by dragging and dropping to trigger Product availability recalculations.

Reordering priority gives you the flexibility to organize sales and immediately see how it affects Product availability on other sales orders.

Note: Sales orders which aren’t Make-to-Order will check if required products are in stock. If they aren’t, Katana checks if these required products are currently being Made-to-Stock.

Make-to-Stock sales orders won’t reserve any products currently in stock, Made-to-Stock, or reserved based on priorities.

If the Product availability shows there aren’t enough products in stock for a SO, you can still create a Make-to-Order SO. Use this approach if you have products in stock but don’t want to use them to fulfill a certain SO. On the Sell screen, choose a SO, click on + Make… and choose Make to order to create a new MO linked to the SO.

Quick button for creating a manufacturing order

Quick menu showing creating a make to order manufacturing order

Afterward, make sure you have enough materials (ingredients, components, etc.) to make the scheduled products.

Step 3: Track Material Requirements

To manage your material requirements, create a Product recipe / Bill-of-Materials (BOM) for each product. Doing so allows you to track material availability statuses on sales and manufacturing orders. Click on a MO in the Schedule tab to see a detailed ingredients list and the material availability at an ingredient level. You can also open a SO and click on the material availability status for any product with a Not available status under Product availability and get a list of materials needed to make the product.

Item card with Product recipe / BOM selected

The material availability statuses of In stock, Expected, or Not available indicate whether you have the required materials.

Tip: Even if products are Made-to-Order, many businesses typically keep some raw materials in stock to satisfy production needs. We suggest using Reorder points for materials to maintain an optimal stock level of your materials. Learn how to set Reorder Points and calculate appropriate Reorder Points.

The status of your material availability will always depend on order priority because there’s no permanent link between an order and the materials needed to complete it. You can drag-and-drop orders in the Sell or Make screen to change their priority.

Even with a certain amount of a required ingredient in stock, the material availability for an order may show Not available if a higher priority order needs the same ingredient. Changing the priority by moving orders triggers material availability recalculations, giving you the flexibility to always decide on order priority.

Step 4: Purchase Missing Material

If the Ingredient availability for any materials is Not available, you will need to create a Purchase order (PO) to buy the missing ingredients.

Click on a MO to see a list of required ingredients based on the Product recipe / BOM. When materials are missing, you can create a new PO.

There are multiple ways to create a PO, such as:

  • Opening a MO and clicking + Buy on the ingredient row

    Quick buy option highlighted on a manufacturing order

  • Clicking the global + sign and selecting + Purchase order

    Quick menu with purchase order highlighted

  • Going to the Sell screen, opening a SO with Not available ingredients, clicking on Not available under the Ingredients column, and choosing + Buy

    Shows an item with not available ingredients
    Buy highlighted for a missing ingredients item

  • Going to the Stock screen, selecting the Materials table, and clicking + Buy

    Materials table inside of the Stock screen

When creating a PO from the Stock screen, take a look at the material’s Missing/Excess column. The number here is calculated based on all open Sales orders, Manufacturing orders, Purchase orders, and Reorder points for each material so you can create a PO based on the material’s “missing” number.

Learn more about using the Stock screen.

Remember, materials expected from Purchase orders are not permanently linked to any SO or MO. Material availability for orders always depends on priorities.

Once a PO is created, it will be added to the Buy screen where you can manage the Delivery status of all Purchase orders.

Buy screen

Since a PO can’t be sent directly from Katana to the supplier, you can create a PDF of the PO by clicking on the printer 🖨️ icon at the top right corner of the PO.

Print option within a purchase order

Step 5: Receive Materials

When materials for a PO arrive at your warehouse, mark the Delivery status to Receive all (or Receive some if materials are missing), and the materials will be added to your stock. The material availability status for a SO in the Sell screen or a MO in the Make screen will change to In stock when all the required ingredients are in stock.

Step 6: Make the Product

With Katana, you can manage production activities either at the MO level or at a more detailed Production Operations level.

If you manage your production at the MO level, the team members who make products can use the Schedule for their production plan by starting at the top MO and working down the list. They can update the Production status to Work in progress once they begin making the product and mark it Done when finished.

If you want to manage your team member’s tasks or workstations at a more detailed step-by-step level, you can open Tasks tab from the Make screen. To make use of the Tasks list, you’ll first need to define the Production Operations for your products. Production operations are specific steps that need to be completed to make a product (cutting, assembly, packaging, etc.).

You can assign each operation to a Resource (e.g. employee, workstation) which allows the Open table in the Task tab to be used as a detailed to-do list for each resource. You should notice that Production operations related to Manufacturing orders are grouped by Resource.

When the last Production operation for a product is completed, the Production status on a MO will automatically change to Done.

When the production of a MO is completed, the products will be added to your stock.

Note that products Made-to-Order will stay linked directly to the underlying SO and won’t be used by any other sales orders. Products that are Made-to-Stock can be booked by any open Sales orders.

Step 7: Ship The Product

When all the required products are available, the Product availability status for a SO in the Sell screen will change to In stock. These sales orders are then ready to be shipped.

If you want to track packed but not yet shipped products, mark the SO’s Delivery status as Packed. When the products are shipped, mark the status as Delivered.

Your feedback is invaluable. Let us know your thoughts on this article or anything in Katana you'd like to see improved: [email protected]

Did this answer your question?