Plan is the macro process representing the processes associated with establishing an estimation of volumes and/or revenue for current and future periods (the plan) and determining the actions required to achieve 'the plan'. Planning is an iterative process, balancing supply and demand in order to position materials, products and/or capacity to achieve 'the plan'.

Balancing is a process of matching demand to supply. The output of balancing are three lists:

  • Revenue or Volume estimation (supply and demand match)
  • Demand shortage (no demand is found to match supply projection)
  • Supply shortage (no supply is found to match demand projection)

The demand shortage and supply shortage lists typically drive initiatives to find additional volume/revenue opportunities (chasing supply or demand), allowing for the volume/revenue estimate to improve in subsequent iterations of the plan.

The scope and importance of Plan processes depends on the supply chain configuration. Make-to-Stock processes depend heavily on Plan processes; getting the mix of item numbers correct may make or break the ability to achieve the revenue goals. For non-Make-To-Stock processes (Make-to-Order, Engineer-to-Order, Reverse Logistics) getting capacity right is generally more important.

Use Cases


Plan processes differ from scheduling processes in that Plan processes generally focus on a longer period (window), less detail (level) and takes place less often (frequency). Scheduling generally involves additional location, time and/or product specific constraints. OpenReference recognizes scheduling as a subset of Execution processes (Source, Make and Deliver for supply chain operations).

Plan processes by themselves do not generate revenue, but a lack of planning generally significantly reduces the likelihood of achieving revenue and/or performance goals. Perfect Order Ratio Order Cycle Time Order Fill Rate Supply Chain Costs Cash Conversion Cycle Fixed Asset Turns Forecast-to-Plan


SCOSupply Chain Operations0SCO
P1Plan Supply Chain Operations2P1
P2Plan Source2P2
P3Plan Make2P3
P4Plan Deliver2P4


DP1Perfect Order Ratio1DP1
RS1Order Cycle Time1RS1
RS2Order Fill Rate1RS2
CO1Supply Chain Costs1CO1
AE1Cash Conversion Cycle1AE1
AE2Fixed Asset Turns1AE2


DRPDistribution Requirements PlanningDRP
MRPMaterial Requirements PlanningMRP
S&OPSales & Operations PlanningS&OP
Note: Common inputs and outputs are listed in alphabetical order. Other inputs and outputs may be required to support varying use cases.Plan Supply Chain Operations 5100000 1 Plan, Estimate, Revenue, Volume, Supply Chain Macro process to describe the activities to develop plans to achieve supply chain volume and revenue goals