Tribal Knowledge in Scheduling

A recent survey by Unique Scheduling Solutions indicated that “extensive training and experience” is needed to prepare a  person for scheduling and/or production planning. And sometimes, “extensive” means months or years!

This is because the inside scoop, or “tribal knowledge” for most production environments is significant; it takes a long time for someone to understand the peculiarities of the shop floor (or staff) and even longer to accumulate the knowledge of best practices for a specific environment. Ask your scheduling person to tell you about the details of what works and what doesn’t–and bring your lunch to the meeting. Ask them what makes one schedule better than another;  how long they might need to train someone else to do their job; and how understaffed—or underpaid—they may feel. I assure you, it may be eye-opening!

  • People are needed at different intervals within an activity but not for all of it;
  • Resources are not needed in the same amounts during the activity;
  • Two activities must occur in succession but within “X” minutes of each other;
  • There is a limit to the number of assignments a person can take in a given week or month;
  • This sequence of activities must start on a Wednesday;
  • Joe doesn’t work well with Alex;
  • If Sally did the previous activities, she should be assigned to the next one.

What would happen if your chief production scheduler(s) suddenly became unavailable?

That’s where we come back to your tribe. Automating the scheduling process in most real-world environments requires the scheduling application to have an extensive set of descriptive capabilities to produce acceptable schedules. This requirement is much more important than optimizing a more simplistic model that doesn’t accommodate the peculiarities of your specific production environment. In an ideal situation, your scheduling process should run if your chief scheduler was suddenly not your chief scheduler anymore, right?

What tribal knowledge does your company hold that your chief scheduler has and your scheduling application should accommodate?