What Problem are We Trying to Solve?
“What problem are we trying to solve?” This is the first question you should ask yourself, if you are thinking of evaluating production scheduling software or Advanced Planning and Scheduling software.
Why? The standard and easy answer is that every project that requires even the smallest amount of company resources should have a clearly stated objective. Without an objective, you run the risk of chasing your tail. Without an objective, you run the risk of not getting management support. Worse still, without an objective you run the risk of automating business processes that just don’t make sense.
In our opinion, “We want to schedule our production better” doesn’t cut it. It is precisely the kind of project objective that risks wasting time and money. Advanced Planning and Scheduling software is a transformative technology that has the potential to truly change the way you do business. If you just graft APS software onto existing production scheduling procedures, you could really be selling yourself short.
Advanced Planning and Scheduling software does much more than just schedule your production. Prior to being able to schedule production, a model of your operation must be built in the software. This model can provide unparalleled visibility into your operation. You can use the model to make better management decisions that significantly improve profitability. But how the model is structured needs to be influenced by what you hope to accomplish – it’s common sense.
Business improvement projects do one of three things. They either increase sales, decrease costs, or reduce assets employed. In the case of better production scheduling, sales are increased through improving on time deliver, reducing lead times, and providing better information in general to customers. Costs are decreased through more efficient operations. Total assets employed are reduced through cutting inventory or hard production assets.
Your production scheduling software project should target one or more of the three objectives above. Your method for achieving those objectives will drive how your scheduling model is built, how you interact with your production scheduling software vendor or vendors, and what software you decide to purchase. It will also drive how you justify the project and receive sanctioning from management.
Focus on the real problems in your business. Align your goals with solving these problems. Don’t sell yourself or your company short.