It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, organizing the production of something is a challenge. You could be trying to make a movie, like David O. Selznick, or you could be manufacturing a new production, regardless of what it is, if you’re not paying attention to the small points of what you’re doing, odds are you’re going to miss some key details.
That’s why it’s important to focus on the planning aspect of your production before it’s time to start. The good news is that while it can be time-consuming to put together, a good production schedule pays off in the long run.
What is a production schedule?
A production schedule is used in various fields to help determine what should be done, how it should be done, and when it needs to happen. The goal is to plan out the production run (or film production) from pre-production to the end to make sure that you’ve got the resources you need (people and materials), that you’re doing everything in the correct order, and that you’re not forgetting anything that might hinder your plans.
Depending on what approach you use (and how you like to visualize things) you end up with something that looks like the Gantt chart below.
A production schedule template is a project management document that helps make sure that you gather up all the necessary information to help with your planning. Templates are good because they help you get away from using spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to plan and organize. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, per se, but not everyone loves using spreadsheets and, if we’re being honest, to get the most out of a spreadsheet you almost have to be a wizard.
Free production schedule templates take away the pain of putting the production schedule together and make life so much easier for the production manager.
6 benefits of a production schedule template
Beyond helping make sure that you’ve got your ducks in a row before you start production, production schedules help with other important aspects. They’re a way to ensure that you’ve got everything you need (and will continue to have it all during the production), they give you a central location to track progress, and they help eliminate a lot of bottlenecks.
1. Better resource management & capacity planning
Any time you’re managing a production, resource management is hugely important. If you’re in manufacturing, you’ll need to know that you have enough raw materials to complete the run. If you’re in film, people need to be ready for specific scenes at specific times. It doesn’t take much to throw things off balance, so the better prepared you are, the better.
A production schedule helps you with tasks like putting together a call sheet, keeping up with inventory management, and even helps with custom orders because you’ll know what kind of lead time you need and whether or not you have the inventory needed in time.
2. Aligned project activities
A lot of times, you need to make sure that everything is happening in the correct order or nothing works out the way it should. This is mostly because there are usually activities that have to be done in a specific order or they don’t work out (these are called dependencies). Think of it this way, you can’t attach the wheels to a car until you’ve attached the axles. You also can’t put the roof on a house, until you’ve built the foundation.
Production schedules make sure that you’re not only following the best path through the project, but that your dependencies are in the correct order.
3. Easier tracking of goals & milestones
Schedules are great because they tell you exactly what you should be doing, when you should be doing it, and when it’s time to move on to the next thing. This, in turn, makes it really easy to track whether you’re on schedule or not. You can also use these as a way to track critical milestones in your project. Ultimately, this gives you a tool to help keep stakeholders informed of progress at all times.
4. Streamlined workflow
Production schedules are an excellent tool for helping discover the critical path of whatever you’re doing. They’re good because, as we mentioned above, they help you identify the dependencies in your project, which, in turn, not only helps you identify bottlenecks. But also helps you find more efficient ways through the project.
5. Team-wide project overview
Just like the schedule that used to be pinned to the cork board at work, production schedules give you an excellent snapshot of who’s currently doing what. A robust production schedule tells what should be happening, what’s next, and what’s actually happening.
6. Minimized backlogs
Of course, schedules are great for keeping you on track. If your production team knows they have three weeks to complete task X, they’re going to work to complete the task on time. However, if you do fall behind schedule, you’ll also know exactly where it happened, who can help fix it, and because you know what the dependencies are, you’ll have a good sense of what you can do to catch up.
Production schedule applications across industries
Production schedules aren’t limited to a specific industry. Anytime you’re doing a production of any kind (whether you’re filming or building something), production schedules make sure you’re always on track.
Production schedules were almost made for the manufacturing industry. There is a critical need to ensure that you have the resources you need, that your supply chain has what you need, and that whatever you’re building is being put together in the correct order. These schedules are especially important around busy seasons, like Christmas or other holidays.
A film running over budget can ruin a production. That’s why it’s important to make sure that everything is happening on schedule using a film production schedule template. Production schedules make sure that crew members show up when they’re needed, production departments like special effects are ready, and that the film set is ready, all with the goal of completing production on time.
You can also use these to create pre-production schedule templates, as well as post-production schedule templates with a few modifications.
Like the film industry, event management is heavily dependent on things happening according to schedule. Along with coordinating dozens, if not hundreds of people, event planners need to make sure suppliers show up on time (and with the right supplies), and even need guests to follow specific instructions. Production schedules can help keep everyone on the right page during the event.
You probably won’t find a restaurant kitchen following a production schedule, but production kitchens absolutely should. These kitchens are used for catering events, manufacturing food (everything from bread to lasagnas), or even supplying grocery stores with pre-made meals. These kitchens have tight schedules to keep and have to make sure that they have both the supplies and people they need at all times, so they can fulfill customer orders.
👉 Get started with this production schedule template.
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Copy this free production schedule template to start using this template with your team. You and your teammates can collaborate and make edits to the template in real-time no matter where you all are located.
page, you’ll see the main table in this production schedule template. The sample data is for a manufacturing use case, but you can easily customize the column headers to fit a film production or event production use case. When you click the Add to schedule button, new rows will appear in the main
page gives you a gantt chart or timeline view of the production schedule. Sometimes it’s easier to see your production schedule in a visual way. As you change the start and finish dates for each item in your production schedule, the bars in the timeline will automatically adjust.
Production schedule template FAQs
Who needs a production schedule template?
Anyone who’s in charge of organizing productions. This isn’t just limited to manufacturing productions (although they’re definitely important there), but also
When should you use a production schedule template?
You should use one of these docs anytime you need to organize a production schedule for a production process. These templates help you capture all the information you need quickly and they give you something that is infinitely more customizable and shareable than a spreadsheet.
What is the difference between a production schedule and a production plan?
The big difference between a production schedule and a production plan is that the production schedule is born from the production plan. What this means is that once you’ve gone through the planning process to determine exactly what you need to do and how it should be done, you work out the schedule to figure out when tasks need to happen and who’s responsible for those tasks.
Coda is an all-in-one doc for your team’s unique processes — the rituals that help you succeed. Teams that use Coda get rid of hundreds of documents, spreadsheets, and even bespoke apps, to work quickly and clearly in one place. This template is a Coda doc. Click around to explore.