Today I wanted to review a surprising trend we have noticed about our customer's needs for scheduling software. Quite often they don’t come to us looking primarily for scheduling software. They often come to use looking for a way to create a schedule and easily communicate it through-out their organization.
There are a couple of scenarios that we typically hear. One is that there is a manager who knows and only knows what the schedule is. If you want to find out, you need to track him/her down. A second case is that a wall board is used in the manufacturing or shipping area that details the schedule for the day. If you want an update you either need to call or make your way over and take a look.
In business today its still a challenge to keep everyone on the same page and focusing in on what’s important to the overall business. Sure, there is lots of software offered to help you track and manipulate data about your business: Job shop software, accouting system, MRP, ERP, WMS, etc. Quite often though its still a challenge to get a view on the information in a form that helps a business in day to day operations.
Many businesses get by using simpler, manual, scheduling tools: paper piles, hand written schedules, wallboards, spreadsheets, etc. These tools become difficult to manage as the business grows. It is difficult to share the schedule and often its hard to track down specific jobs.
It's not only the small businesses that are having this challenge. Quite often there are huge corporations that have enterprise level software such as MRP or ERP systems. These large systems are well suited to achieve say 90% of their requirements. Its tough to be perfect though and thus gaps arise. One of our first customers was an international business with 4 billion in earnings. The business used a well known ERP system to manage the entire business. One of the manufacturing plants was having a real problem keeping on top of their 6 month queue of jobs to be done. They were getting by using a spreadsheet, but this had limitations. For example, spreadsheets aren’t great for providing capacity impact. In other words, there are 20 jobs to be done. Will they take 1 week or 1 month? Also the customer service department was having a tough time trying to use the spreadsheets answer customer queries. In summary, large businesses also have these issues.
In the title of this article I did include the word graphical for reason. They are software programs that state they have a scheduling component. What you find out though is that the schedule comes out in a form that is similar to a spreadsheet. In other words many columns and rows of data. From this format its really difficult to get a ‘feel’ for the proposed plan of action.
In summary, if your business is having communication breakdowns in regards to job scheduling. Perhaps scheduling software that creates an easy to read, job schedule could be helpful.