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  • Writer's pictureAlfredo Iorio

Plan and Promise Sales Order Delivery with Order Promising

When customers place a sales order order, they want to know when they can receive it. Business Central calculates a sales order shipment and delivery dates based on an item's known and expected availability dates, which you use to inform your customers. In this post, you will learn how to use orders promising to calculate shipment and delivery dates.

About Order Promising

Order promising in Business Central is a set of functionalities designed to estimate sales order delivery dates based on item availability, warehouse handling time and customer lead times.

You can use Business Central to calculate and promise delivery dates forwards based on the order date. Conversely, you can record the customers' request for a delivery date and see if you can meet the request. Then, based on the calculation outcome, you can confirm the order, substitute an item or offer an alternative date calculated using order promising.

Set up Order Promising

You must set up order promising before using this set of features.

Search for the Order Promising Setup and then choose the related link or click here to open the page in Business Central.

The four fields on this page do the following:

  • Offset (Time): This field defines when a change in item availability should generate a new order or a change of the planning dates. I recommend using the formula 1D as in my example above, which means one day. We will see how this works later in this post.

  • Order Promising Numbers: A number series for order promising.

  • Order Promising Template: Choose between a Planning or Requisition template. Use planning if you assemble or manufacture items on sales orders. Use requisition for finished goods. I use planning for both, hence the setup above.

  • Order Promising Worksheet: Select a dedicated batch or use the default.

The last setup is on the company information page, where you must define the availability period calculation and the calculation frequency. In my example, I have 180 days and a time bucket of one week for calculation frequency. This means that I can only get order promising suggestions to reschedule sales order lines if a supply is scheduled up to 180 days after the planned shipment date. Any scheduled delivery after 180 days will be ignored.

Understanding item availability on sales lines in Business Central

Before we dive into order promising and how to use it, I want to spend a few minutes on how item availability is calculated in Business Central.

The availability of an inventory item in Business Central is made of two elements: supply and demand. The demand includes outbound requests like sales orders, outbound transfers, and quantities consumed on assembly or production orders. The supply is divided into two types: physical inventory and scheduled inbounds.

Because demand and scheduled inbounds are time-bound, I.E., they affect availability based on the delivery and receipt date, you must maintain accurate records of these dates if you want Business Central to calculate accurate item availability and use order promising.

Availability on the sales line FactBox

You can see the item availability for a sales order on the Sales Line Details fact box page in Business Central, where the logic around supply and demand dates becomes clear. Let's look at an example. The picture below shows a sales order with one line. The sales line fact box shows the item availability as -45; let's dive deep into it to see why Business Central returns this number.

First, we must look at the shipment date field that shows 10/11/2023. This date is the planned shipment date of my order, and it's calculated as the shipment date of the sales order minus the outbound lead time.

The supply and demand are calculated on that date, which means any other demand or supply scheduled after that date will not affect availability calculations on this page. Also, supply and demand for other locations are not considered. In my example, the availability fields are based on location MAIN, which is the location on the sales line.

The field Available Inventory returns the physical inventory minus any reserved stock. Note that the field shows zero, which means I have no inventory of that item in my location MAIN. I also have two pieces of that item on a scheduled receipt and 47 pieces in the Gross Requirements field. No reservations on receipts or overall (I will cover reservations in a future post).

In summary, the negative availability of minus 45 pieces results from a total supply of 2 (Zero physical inventory and two on receipt scheduled before the sales line shipment date) minus a total requirement of 47. The total requirement of 47 is calculated on the quantity on the order plus one or more documents with a shipment date before 10/11/2023.

Typically, an availability of -45 suggests that I cannot ship the order. However, since there is a scheduled receipt of two pieces and my order is for one piece, I could ship the order. To have a better understanding of what I can do to fulfil the order, I must click on the Item Availability field to open the Item Availability by Event page, where I can see the calculation steps that result in the minus 45.

In the picture above, you can see three demand and one supply line. The supply is a transfer order scheduled for 01/11/23 and is insufficient to fulfil sales orders 101056 and 101066. Likewise, order number 101014, scheduled for 10/10/23, cannot be shipped because there is no physical inventory available on that date.

In summary, I have one order that must be rescheduled and two that require purchasing or transferring new stock. The two types of order promising - reschedule and replenishment - explain two key concepts in Business Central: Available to Promise and Capable to Promise.

Available to Promise

Available to promise calculates the delivery date on the sales order based on unreserved quantity in inventory and planned supply like production orders, purchases or inbound transfers. Business Central calculates a sales order's earliest delivery date based on the available information. In my example, order 101014 can be shipped later because of a planned inbound transfer. Therefore, I can use an order promising to update the delivery date.

To find the order promising action, open the sales order and find Plan under Actions

As expected, the order promising shows that the item is unavailable on the original shipment date and returns a negative availability of one, which is the quantity on my order.

I run the action Available-to-Promise on the Order Promising lines page to let Business Central calculate the earliest shipment date for the order line. I only have one line in this sales order; therefore, the page shows one line, but I would see more lines on this page if my order included more lines with availability issues.

The calculation returns the Earliest Shipment Date of 01/11/2023, which is the expected receipt date of my transfer order - the supply - that I can use to ship my order.

I have no buffer time set for my location MAIN to receive or ship goods; therefore, the sales order suggested shipment date is the same as the inbound transfer planned receipt date. More on how to set up handling times to create buffers in a future post.

The next step is to accept the suggestion by clicking Accept at the top of the page. This will update the planning dates of my sales order.

Capable to Promise

Capable to promise works on a what-if scenario, and it looks at available inventory plus the planning parameters on the item, like replenishment method and lead time. The information is used to suggest replenishment of stock unavailable via purchase orders, transfers or production orders.

In my example, I can use capable to promise on order 101065 because I only have one piece of item 1896-S in stock. The picture below shows the order promising page from sales order 101065 after I click on Capable to Promise.

The result is an earliest delivery date two months from the original shipment date because it is based on the vendor and item lead time. Remember to set up the items as Critical in the item card to use capable to promise.

Another difference with the Available to Promise is that Business Central will not only update the order line with the new dates, but it will create a requisition line and reserve the sales line against it. In my example, I have one piece reserved from the transfer order - the other piece was reserved on the previous order - and the rest reserved from the replenishment line.

The last step is to open the requisition or planning worksheet and turn the replenishment lines into orders. The reservation entries linked to the sales order are passed to the purchase order line.

In Summary

Use order promising in Business Central to calculate and update sales order delivery dates based on item availability and replenishment methods. Business Central supports two types of order promising: Available to Promise and Capable to Promise. The former uses existing inventory and planned supply to estimate the earliest delivery date, while the latter uses item planning parameters to suggest replenishment orders.


Alfredo Iorio

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