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When scheduling breaks down and late deliveries arise!

Scheduling is a skill for many people, an effective schedule can make a big difference as to whether a project is delivered on time, or not.

I have noticed a very basic mistake that gets made with scheduling that I want to share in this post.

Do you make this same mistake?
The mistake that I am referring to is not appreciating the things that have to happen in between the main tasks. If you can identify these tasks, and then manage them, you will be ahead of most people who are responsible for scheduling production, projects and events.

A great example of this was at a recent event. There were approximately 120 participants, each given a 1 minute slot to perform. I spoke to one of the spectators who had told me that they had allowed 2 hours to watch the event. When I said that I thought it would be closer to 3 hours they gave me a peculiar look. Their basic maths was spot on. Their failure was to ignore the changeovers between participants, warm  up slots and any technical difficulties that might be encountered. The event actually took 3 hours and 5 minutes to conclude.

In the business world this issue is no different. Bespoke manufacturing projects that involve numerous parties, design changes and the normal trials and tribulations of production have the same issue. If you don't consider the small repeating issues that surround your normal project tasks you will find that your schedules will bloat and put your on time delivery plans at jeopardy. By recognising these small repeating issues you can drive up the performance of the schedule. One of my clients did just this and delivered a 16 week project to just under 10 weeks.

To be clear, I am not talking about contingency here, I am talking about being realistic about how your business transacts internally. What are the processes and rituals that surround your normal tasks? Being ignorant and / or hoping that it will be different this time around is a recipe for disaster. In production environments I often see schedulers hope that their orders will not get stuck in any queues (to meet an unrealistic promise that they have just made!). Guess what? If the business has queues in it normally, it will still have queues in it unless you manage the resources differently.

Or,

You will encounter the same issues you always have if you don't manage things differently.

By being honest and realistic about your business' issues / inefficiencies you then have two things you can use:
  1. Better parameters for your future scheduling activities.
  2. A list of issues that you can then improve upon.
If you find yourself getting frustrated by schedules slipping, promises being broken and customers giving you a hard time then it might be time to consider the above points. Good scheduling shouldn't rely on good luck!

Giles



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Enjoy reading,

Giles
About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous i…