Nearly every type of business uses one form of production schedule or another. The film industry uses production schedules to manage the filming of every scene. Manufacturing firms use production schedules to determine when products will be available and in what numbers. Hospitality housekeeping departments use production schedules to schedule labor at the proper volumes. Publishers use production schedules to time the release of new publications. Because of the important role that production schedules play in managing so many aspects of a business, managers need to create specific documents that meet the needs of their organizations.
List all the elements that need to be tracked. Identify inventory items, machinery, personnel and outputs that are essential to the final product and its schedule.
Break the project out into discrete tasks. Meet with those who perform the tasks to determine how long each task takes, what materials they need and how the task is performed. Record these tasks in the order they must be accomplished. Perform time studies for new tasks to determine how long it takes to complete a task.
List the tasks in a spreadsheet or project management program in the order they will be performed. In a cell next to the task, record the amount of time the task will take. Create a task for delivering necessary supplies.
Determine who is responsible for each task and record that person's name next to the task.
List times across the top of the spreadsheet. Use whatever time implement is most appropriate for your project, whether it is minutes, hours, days or weeks.
Circulate the production schedule among those involved in the project, and solicit their feedback. Make changes to task order and scheduling as necessary.
When performing time studies, remember that employees of different skill levels and abilities will perform tasks at different speeds. Calculate an average speed so your production schedule is not thrown off or unrealistic.
Two tools that can help you create a production schedule are a Project Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) and a Gantt chart.
As a professional writer since 1985, Bridgette Redman's career has included journalism, educational writing, book authoring and training. She's worked for daily newspapers, an educational publisher, websites, nonprofit associations and individuals. She is the author of two blogs, reviews live theater and has a weekly column in the "Lansing State Journal." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Michigan State University.