Are You Doing It Wrong?

How scheduling your resources is setting you up for failure.

It’s Monday! The weekend was great and you’re well-rested. You’ve got your coffee in-hand and feeling confident. This week/quarter/month of scheduling will be easier.
I’m here to tell you that it won’t. (Cue the collective sigh.)
I hear it all the time.

  • “I have to schedule the machines.”
  • “My job is to maintain the schedule for the Doctors.”
  • “We need to figure out what the meeting rooms are going to be used for.”

These statements tell me that the focus of your scheduling operation is on important resources–but not the activities that these resources are performing. Instead, you need an activity-based scheduling system. There is a difference and if you’re organization is shopping for a new system, take note!

Why does this matter?

It matters because activities require more than one resource. A meeting requires several people to be available simultaneously; A manufacturing activity requires both a machine and an operator; A medical procedure needs a room, and a physician and a patient. So when you focus on resources, you end up having to coordinate the assignments for each resource with each other resource.
The relationship between activities and resources is one-to-many, which means that one activity can require many resources. Only in the rare circumstances is the relationship one-to-one. Because of this, resource-oriented scheduling systems become difficult to use. They demand too much manual coordination to find simultaneous availabilities.

Makes sense, right?

Look what happens when you recast the statements above with an “activities” perspective:

  • “I have to schedule these production activities.”
  • “I have to maintain the schedule for the Doctors’ consultations and surgeries.”
  • “We need to schedule the meetings for this organization.”

If you’re using a scheduling and resource management application designed around resource scheduling, you undoubtedly are aware of this limitation and that’s where the “Are you doing it wrong?” question fits in. No matter how you configure your resource-based system, you’re going to end up in the same place and scratching your head (or crying in your coffee)—and that’s no way to start a Monday!