Challenges Accepted: What Are Yours?

Here are 10 real world scenarios I’ve encountered recently that require some serious know-how in order to set up a scheduling application. (Of course, the application itself must have the descriptive and solution capabilities to handle the complex scenarios.) Perhaps you can relate to something in this list.

  1. Some of my activities are a week long. Those must always start on a Monday.
  2. My presses run long jobs but the paper trays must be reloaded periodically. It takes an attendant about 10 minutes every hour to do this reload, but the presses should not be stopped while this is done.
  3. I want my umpires to be assigned to no more than six games per week.
  4. It’s best–but not mandatory–to assign each person to two activities per day.
  5. Each surgical specialty is assigned certain times during the week when they are granted privileges to use the hospital’s operating rooms. Each specialty must schedule cases into those times.
  6. Access to the laboratory’s microscopes is routinely granted to visiting scientists, but their visits must be separated by at least two weeks.
  7. There are multiple set-ups for manufacturing this pharmaceutical product, but only certain combinations of equipment are approved by the FDA.
  8. If a certain person is chosen to start a repair project, it is desirable–but not mandatory–that the same person perform the rest of the tasks on the project.
  9. Several different skill levels can perform this task. It’s desirable–but not essential–to use the lowest skill level qualified for the work.
  10. A staff person must support every task. Some tasks can share a staff person with other tasks, but some require the staff person to be dedicated.

Do you identify with any of these? Are your scheduling challenges similar? Does your scheduling application accommodate your real world situation, or do you resort to manual overrides, white boards with a lot of erasing and sticky notes? If so, it’s time to reconsider your approach, don’t you think?