Even the most powerful computers with software that can solve problems can become quickly overwhelmed when balancing multiple jobs and limited resources. But in scheduling, one of the fundamental challenges is juggling the conceptual world of mathematics and the tangible world of job-shop manufacturing – and producing jobs in the shortest amount of time.
The main question that needs to be answered is always this: What is the best way to complete the work that needs to be done in the quickest time period? In job-shop scheduling, two separate groups of people are in play. Mathematicians see the problems from the ivory towers, while the management team tries to meet production schedule demands on the ground.
Oftentimes, the disconnect between these two groups causes delays and confusion in scheduling jobs and tasks. The mathematicians are focused on solving the math-based issues using determining devices, like a Turing machine. Even though there is a strong focus these days on solving issues with technology and devices, the jury is still out as to whether a computer can solve job-shop scheduling problems when multiple machines are involved. Frequently, job-shop scheduling that involves three or more workstations is labeled as NP-complete, which creates problems that take an extremely long time to calculate, and in turn delay the scheduling process.
William Shakespeare had it right in 1609. And although the rest of this sonnet is somewhat less germane to planning and scheduling, this first line says it all. If you want your project to go well, its stakeholders must have a marriage of true minds.
I’m an optimist. I think most people who work on projects want them to go well, and it’s our responsibility as project managers to create situations that allow the well-intended to contribute, and to generate a transparent plan that manifests the team’s vision for the project.
In the past, visualizing interdependencies between functional areas (“swim lanes”) in a network diagram, on a timescale was not just hard, it was impossible. But the patented technology in NetPoint® supports this type of collaboration.