Inept Scheduling Leads to Disappointed Customers
Talk about a high-class problem! It’s the end of the month and the plant is absolutely jammed with work. So why all the long faces? I get the opportunity to sit through many different production meetings throughout the month in different shops. And guess what, everybody does it a little bit different, and there’s no right or wrong way. The frustration lies when, time after time, schedule questions are asked, and the response is “That’s a good question, I’ll have to get back to you.” This can lead to disappointed customers and frustrated client facing teams.
Now I am a firm believer that everybody comes to work expecting to do their very best each and every day. However, it becomes difficult to do so if they don’t have the proper tool set available. If you’re a department or production manager in a printing plant, one of those tool sets includes a good schedule system. For many projects, it can be as simple as first in and first out, or just follow the due dates. More complex projects involving multiple departments become a bit more involved.
Some systems begin with the committed ship date and work backwards, making sure that complex projects are separated into their individual production paths and prioritized in such a way that they all meet to be assembled or packed prior to the due date. If you only have one complex project going on, it may not be that big a deal. But when you have multiple complex projects going on, all due to ship at about the same time, having visibility into departmental loading and manning requirements becomes crucial to making your promise dates and minimizing overtime, disappointed clients, and sometimes even tears.
I am by no means trying to oversimplify the very complex process of scheduling in today’s multi-channel printing facility. There are a lot of moving parts with many variables. In fact, I’m not sure that there’s a perfect system out there.
Many printing companies rely on the scheduling function within their MIS system. Depending upon how things were set up with the system installation and business rules, the results can range from not bad, to not worth it. What doesn’t make things easier is that the client work continues to be more complex, with more parts, and tighter service level agreements (SLAs). Another factor that adds to the complexity is compliance in using the system the way it was designed to be used. This can range from taking shortcuts on how jobs are planned to not updating promise dates on the jobs.
Look, there’s no panacea when it comes to a scheduling system. What’s not okay though is not having some type of system that works within your organization. Yours should anticipate bottlenecks and provide a transparent path for how the work will flow through the shop. My experience shows the more clarity within the schedule system, the less drama and disappointment there is.
This business is tough enough as it is without self-inflicted wounds. If your scheduling system is not up to par with the rest of your operations, this could be a good place to begin your next project.
These are ideas for making your business even better. If you have ideas or comments on the subject, please include them below. Good luck and remember, doing nothing certainly is an option, just not a great one!
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at email@example.com.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.