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Make-to-Order Workflow
Make-to-Order Workflow

Guide for creating a make-to-order workflow

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

In this 7-step guide, you’ll find an overview of a basic Make-to-Order workflow in Katana – building the flow between the Sell, Make, and Buy screens.

Note: If you keep safety stock levels for all products and apply a Make-to-Stock approach, take a look at our Make-to-Stock Workflow article. If you use a mixed Make-to-Stock and Make-to-Order approach, then refer to this article.

Companies that start making a product only when a customer order is received, with no products kept in stock, use a Make-to-Order (MTO) approach.

Step 1 – Create a Sales Order

An MTO flow typically starts when a Sales order (SO) is received. Sales orders are added to Katana via a sync from an e-commerce channel (e.g. Shopify) or created manually. Find your Sales orders by heading to the Sell screen.

You can track the Sales items availability, Ingredients availability, Production status, and Delivery status for each order from the Sell screen.

Using the MTO approach, your Sales items availability will typically show Not available as you won’t keep any products in stock for immediate delivery.

Ingredients availability indicates whether the materials required to make the ordered products are In stock, Expected, or Not available. Find a SO where the Ingredients show Not available and open this order. Inside the order page, click on Not available under Ingredients for a more detailed list of missing material.

Read more about using the Sell screen.

Step 2 – Schedule Your Production

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

On the Sell screen, under the Production column, click on + Make… and choose + Make to order to create a Manufacturing order (MO) for all the products needed for this Sales Order. The Production status for the SO will then change to Not started and the Sales items availability to Expected.

You can create an MO for each required product separately by opening a SO, clicking on + Make… and choosing Make to order for each item row.

Manufacturing orders will be added to the Schedule tab in the Make screen, where you can see the production schedule for your business. If you want to change the priority of an MO, simply drag and drop the order to where you want it.

If a MO is created from the Sell screen via the Make to order button, the MO will be automatically linked to the related Sales order. If a MO is created this way, the priority of these orders is linked between the Sell and Make screens, meaning that when you drag-and-drop the SO to change priority, the priority of the linked MO in the Schedule tab will also be updated and vice versa.

Read more about using the Schedule.

Step 3 – Track Material Requirements

To manage your material requirements, create a Product Recipe / BOM for each Product. When you’ve done this, you can track the Ingredients availability of products for both Sales and Manufacturing orders.

Go to the Make screen and click on a MO in the Schedule tab to see a list of ingredients and their availability. You can also go to the Sell screen and open a SO where the Ingredients column displays Not available. Inside the SO card, click on Not available under the Ingredients column to see a list of materials missing for making the product.

Note: When companies make products to order, they typically keep a certain amount of raw materials in stock to satisfy forecasted production needs. We suggest using Reorder points for materials in Katana to ensure there’s an optimal stock level for materials at all times. Learn how to set Reorder points and how to calculate appropriate Reorder points.

Step 4 – Purchase Missing Materials

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

  • Clicking the global "+" sign and selecting + Purchase order

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

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

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.

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.

Step 5 – Receive Materials

When materials for a PO arrive at your warehouse, mark the Delivery status to Receive all (or Receive some if some 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.

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.

That’s it! You have fulfilled a customer order.

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