As Jeffrey W. Herrmann of the University of Maryland points out, there are various schools of thought on how best to develop a production schedule. These schools of thought may be broken down into decision-making, problem-solving and organizational approaches, with each having slightly different fundamental philosophies. Although people may approach production scheduling differently, all approaches essentially contain the same basic steps. These steps cannot truly accommodate every scenario that may occur during production, but they can give a manager a fairly accurate estimate of when production will be completed.
Identify all the tasks that will need to be completed during production. Do not forget about pre- and post-production activities, such as quality inspections or editing.
Put these tasks in a chronological list.
Research how much time the tasks you have identified have taken other companies or professionals to complete. Talk to those in the industry or read professional publications that indicate average activity completion times. Create estimates for how long each task will take, based on your research and staff availability, and jot the estimates down on your list.
Create a chart that lists time across the top (e.g., days, weeks, months) and the tasks chronologically down the right side. Draw a horizontal line across the chart for each task to indicate how long each task will take. Since each task will start and end at a different period of time, the lines need not start flush left or extend the entire width of the chart. It is acceptable to have some overlap in these lines if tasks are to occur simultaneously, to some degree.
Add information to your chart across each task line, such as the people responsible for each task or the materials or cost associated with each task.
Conduct a staff meeting for all members of the production crew. Give them copies of the production schedule and make sure that each staff member can be available when they are scheduled to work. If a staff member cannot be present for their scheduled time, you will need to find a replacement worker or adjust the production schedule to correspond with their absence.
Be sure to factor in the time it takes to accommodate production problems, such as getting a shipment of inferior supplies. Inflate your estimates accordingly. No one will gripe if you finish ahead of this inflated schedule, but they will be upset if you underestimate and go over deadline.
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