In manufacturing, a master production schedule (MPS) is an all-encompassing schedule for a company or department. It includes major elements involved in the production of an end product or service. Generally used by project managers, it contains forecasts and goals that help management make projections and gauge the progress and success of a project. Examples of information found on a master production schedule include cost projections, sales projections, and projections of expected progress, but these schedules can vary depending on the needs of the project and the organization. Master production schedules are usually arranged by week, though they can cover an indefinite amount of time.
For the most part, a master production schedule is different for every project, since every project has different goals and guidelines to follow. Essential to a master production schedule is easy access to the guiding information and basic plan frameworks that a manager needs to have at hand to keep a project on track. It offers an at-a-glance guide to the present progress and future plans for a project, and should have everything a manager needs to know on a regular basis. It does not usually have many specific project plan details to follow, but it offers managers working on the product a guide by which to make their decisions.
Any well-planned master production schedule should provide reliable guidelines upon which a company can make promises of on-time product deliveries. Scheduled deliveries can be important to warehouses and large retailers because a large delivery requires the manpower to process the delivery. Without a production schedule shared among departments, poorly communicated information can cause scheduling delays that may affect product delivery. A universal schedule makes production needs clear, reducing the opportunity for costly mistakes. Master production schedules are often used in combination with other record-keeping methods like accounting and inventory to further record and monitor the progress of a project.
This type of schedule can be used on a small scale to improve even the most modest of operations. For example, a master production schedule is somewhat similar to a monthly menu that schedules meal preparations for student lunches. The cafeteria workers use their master production schedule, the school lunch calendar, as a guide to plan daily activities and future project lunches. By knowing what the schedule is today as well as what is coming up, a cafeteria staff, like a business management team, can make long-term and short-term plans for efficient project operations. This type of schedule applied in a cafeteria may also outline cost estimates or service goals for the cafeteria staff.