Well, it's Christmas again, and, of course, a Happy Christmas to you all. From everyone at Leadent Digital and Service Talk we wish you all the best for the season and for the New Year.
For many of our clients Christmas is another working day as their field staff work to keep the lights on, keep the water flowing, monitor flood levels and undertake a host of often invisible work essential to us all over this time.
How to schedule Christmas Eve
There's also one very special mobile workforce out there on Christmas Eve. Unusually, by our standards, he's a mobile workforce of just one (excluding reindeer and his support staff back at base) although he still has an unbelievable number of tasks to schedule in a short space of time. Not much white space on his Gantt we suspect, unless it's been snowing!
So how would you effectively schedule Santa's workload and how well can you schedule workforces when you get some extreme scenarios?
Examples might include:
- Cases where you genuinely have only one worker. They may be a specialist, or there may be low demand for their skills, but you know that when you need them, you need them
- Remote locations where local resources can't economically be located. It will take time to respond to call outs and planned work needs to be really thought about in advance
- Out of Hours cover
- Extreme weather scenarios such as the recent storms, which place huge demands on resources, and must inevitably take precedent over planned workload
What can you learn?
When we speak with clients, the stories that emerge with regards to the more extreme scheduling events can often assume a life of their own. Especially when these situations are poorly planned for. Sure, these events are difficult to schedule, especially if they're scheduled on the fly. But could they be better handled? Could your exception handlers be better prepared?
I'd suggest they could, simply by putting a little more thought in up front. Planning is key to understanding what could happen, how likely and impactful it is, and in developing processes and plans to cope.
How to handle complexity
So, some questions to consider:
- Can you list your extreme scheduling scenarios?
- Do you understand how likely they are, and the impact they have if they occur?
- Do you understand which ones you really need to prepare for?
- Do you have the plans and processes in place to deal with the scenarios which will really cause you pain?
- Will you pre-empt them, or react to them?
- Does your control team consist of Schedulers or Exception Handlers?
- Is your Field Team flexible?
- Will your systems, people and processes cope?
Although there's still plenty to think about from a scheduling perspective, its ultimately about planning. It's important to think about the extreme scenarios, but also to keep them in proportion, and to have contingency plans (but always kept in the context of the risk and probability of the event)....whether you are a utility company, a water company or Santa!
At Leadent we wish all of our readers here on Service Talk a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If there is anything we can do to help you with your scheduling then why not get in touch?