8 Key Steps to Building An Accurate Production Schedule

Are you missing deadlines? Do you find your production team always rushing to get orders out? Is your sales team taking more orders than your production team can handle? These are tell-tale signs that you are not keeping an accurate production schedule.

What is a production schedule and why is it important?

A production schedule is a timeline that details tasks, resources, and deadlines to plan/prioritize tasks, allocate resources for jobs, visualize production capacity, and provide a clear picture of daily responsibilities and timelines.

When you don’t keep an accurate production schedule, mistakes will start creeping up, and soon you will be overwhelmed with work all the time.

Here are 8 steps you can take towards maintaining an accurate production schedule.

1. Ensure All Orders are Entered Accurately

The first step to a smooth production process is to ensure that a client’s order is recorded accurately and with as many details as possible. Spending time double-checking information upfront will reduce time and revenue lost, correcting mistakes during production. Additionally, providing the production team with details, such as product color, size, quantity, design, ship by date, in-hand date, etc., will reduce clarifications and follow-up questions amid production. A meticulous and detailed order entry process leads to an efficient and uninterrupted production process.

2. Maintain Accurate Dates for All Orders

It is common for sales representatives to cushion ship by and in-hands dates. This practice provides a buffer for delivery time in case of production delays. However, the approach of padding deadlines temporarily treats the symptoms of a more serious problem – missed deadlines.

There are three problems with the practice of cushioning deadlines:

  1. It dilutes the significance of the production schedule
  2. The production team is working off of ambiguous deadlines
  3. It breeds distrust between the sales team and the production team

Therefore, your production schedule should only contain accurate deadlines and work with your production team to address the underlying issue.

3. The Production Schedule Should be Available to the Whole Team

The production schedule should be available and visible to the entire team. The schedule allows each member to identify details such as job progress, priorities, due dates, and functions as an up-to-date list of on-going tasks. A quick look at the production schedule should indicate to a team member tasks that need to be completed to stay on schedule. This functionality provides team members with a clear picture of daily responsibilities and timelines, thus creating a cohesive, efficient, and productive team. Therefore, regardless of whether you use a simple whiteboard or software solution like YoPrint, make sure team members have open access to the schedule any time they need to review it.

4. Create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)

SOPs provide guidelines for the workflow process of tasks within your shop. An SOP should be clear and available to all individuals on the team. These guidelines are especially important when setting deadlines for tasks. When an SOP is in place, your entire team will be able to function as a unit since all individuals will be following the same set of rules to processing a job. It is also a very important training tool for new employees as it reduces training time.

5. Process Work Orders the Same Day a Purchase Order is Receive

A work order should be processed as soon as a purchase order is received. This provides the production team with as much time as possible to work through an order. If there was a delay in entering the order in the system, this may result in your team taking more orders than they can process. They may think the Thursday schedule has a slot but but unbeknownst to the team, there is an order sitting in someone’s inbox that’s due on Friday. Don’t wait till the last minute to do it.

6. Conduct Daily Reviews on Orders

Once a work order is received, the production team reviews the order and promptly assigns it to a press. This review process is conducted daily, so new orders can be added to the schedule as soon as possible. Assigning jobs to presses immediately, regardless of urgency, allows the production team to estimate the work capacity of a press/team based on order size and timeline. It prevents over scheduling and provides the flexibility of moving tasks around to accommodate rush jobs or fast-approaching deadlines with minimal impact to the schedule.

7. Prepare Ahead

Several preparations can be made ahead of time to ensure that a job is completed smoothly and on schedule. All inventory should be available at least one day before a scheduled job. This includes tags, stickers, shipping boxes, additional t-shirts, colors, and/or screens. Preparing all necessary supplies in advance reduces potential production delays due to an inventory shortage.

A customer’s artwork should be approved and ready for processing at least two days before the job. Converting an art into a print-ready format takes time. The two-day window gives the production team enough time to prepare screens for screen printing jobs or prepare designs for embroidery and DTG printing.

Taking appropriate steps to prepare for a scheduled job will enable the production team to avoid delays, stay on schedule, and deliver on time. 

8. Plan to Finish Early

Strive to have every order completed at least one day before the in-hand/ship-by date. Completing orders early creates time to review completed jobs and fix mistakes. It also provides the opportunity to accommodate rush or last-minute requests.


In closing, the production schedule is a pillar that supports organization and efficiency in a business. This article lists eight key steps to building an accurate production schedule. An accurate production schedule will improve workflow and promote efficiency in a business.

If you are looking for a solution that embodies these principles, then try YoPrint for free for 15 days. Our shop management software will get your business back on track and help you grow your business.

CEO & Principal Engineer at

Having worked as a software engineer for Amazon and Microsoft, Anbin founded YoPrint to build the best-in-class print shop management software. Anbin aims to use cutting-edge technology staple to tech giants to help modernize the print industry.

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