Do you schedule activities, projects, tasks, events, cases, games, meetings, processes, or procedures? Does your scheduling application force you to use one of those terms?
Do you schedule people, trucks, rooms, machines, computers, fields, or equipment? Does your scheduling application assume one of those terms?
In a previous blog – (http://schedulingdoneright.com/the-search-for-a-common-format-why-generic-is-a-good-thing/)- I discussed the emergence of a common lexicon or vocabulary for scheduling. Notice the entries in the first list above all take time to perform and represent some action taking place. They are the “verbs” of scheduling. We call them “activities”. The entries in the second list are all objects of some kind. They are the “nouns” of scheduling. We call them “Resources”
When looking for a scheduling tool, it helps to look the nouns and the verbs. What are the resources called? What are the activities called? Can I use whatever terms I want, or does the application restrict me in some way?
A little abstraction is required when considering tools and their capabilities. Here are some questions about the nouns and the verbs that get beyond specific terms:
- Can I define an activity to require multiple resources?
- Can an activity use resources for a portion of its duration?
- Can I define pools of identical resources and schedule the requirements for a certain number taken from the pool?
- What kinds of constraints can I put on the availability of the resources? g. overnights, weekends, holidays, pre-assigned block times etc.
- Can the requirements for resources within an activity be time-varying?
If we can abstract the scheduling world just a little bit, i.e. look at the Nouns and Verbs, we can select tools that will adapt to meet our needs as we discover the unique attributes of our environment.