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Short flyer with screenshots
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Comprehensive process integration to include customers and suppliers
Planning, execution and billing based on functions and individual workflows

Task Planning

1. Manual Planning

Classical task planning can be carried out manually and/or based on workflows. We proceed then to the simpler (and conventional) manual planning of work orders for employees.

For this type of design software, there are a number of names, such as:

  • MRP System
  • Scheduling/dispatch software
  • (Multi) resource scheduling
  • Job/task/tour scheduling
  • HR planning, etc.

Depending on the application, there are other descriptive names:

  • Field service management (FSM)
  • Field force automation (FFA)
  • Mobile field service
  • Service management system (SMS)
  • Service chain/lifecycle management software
  • Service order software and many more

All these systems do, however, essentially the same thing: the various deployments of personnel as efficiently as possible in the light of various factors for the performance of a service.

Factors which are considered for inclusion in the list of candidates for a job or service, could be:

  • Formal approvals
  • Preferences and qualifications
  • Responsibilities
  • Material resources
  • Time and space availability
  • Company-specific factors

A number of additional integrated conflict checks must take place when planning, such as

  • Over/under-utilization depending on employee status
  • Overlapping allocation
  • Availability in time and space
  • Skills

These will always be adapted to the customer and country requirements, like workflows. See also the Duty Rostering and Availability Planning pages, in which more conflicts that can always be flagged automatically are described.

With the CTWS, you can plan for tours of service technicians or TV crews, or through the project approach of the system for entire projects composed of the various workflow steps that make up a TV show, a disc, and post-production project or for any product or activity creation.

Therefore, the planning staff does not have to create the jobs manually and populate them with data. An offer or an order (or parts thereof) can be directly activated for scheduling, so that a proposed activity (e.g. two times 4 hours of digital HD editing on Avid) is immediately a job that only needs to be dragged and dropped to an employee or that employee is selected from the recommended list, if one was not already defined there by default. This job now contains much of the necessary data, such as job type, job description, customer name, delivery time, etc. but can be expanded to include more information.

We distinguish between fixed-time jobs that are defined as temporally fixed and flexible jobs that only have duration and are to be performed in a defined time window. This allows employees more flexible and appropriate time management and relieves the dispatcher of the task of detailed planning.

Jobs can also be assigned to different resources (human and/or machine) or an entire team. Furthermore, various jobs that belong together can be connected to each other. All of this may already be defined in the order management or even by default in the price list (at the origin point of an activity), so that these relationships are also reflected in different pricing or calculation methods.

The employee can now be informed in various ways, such as by reports printed off, via SMS or intranet; the simplest variant is the employee's home page, where each employee can see and edit his work assignments using a browser. There, for example, he can enter more information such as actual work time, material consumption, comments, etc., so that the dispatcher is spared the manual effort. This is often also called 'employee self-service', because the employee can do it at home (see also Availability Planning).

Should an employee not have access to a web browser, he will usually be notified by means of a printed working hours record (report) with the planned times and correct actual values. By means of the Actual Time Capture feature, the dispatcher can bring the corrected values quickly and en masse into the system for accounting steps like billing and settlement.

In summary, it is already the natural disposition of the CTWS to be embedded into a project and contract management, so that calculation, planning, fulfillment and billing are not stand-alone functions, but are all integral parts.

2. By Workflow

Normal manual scheduling is already integrated into order management. If the planning is however simplified further and integrated even more into the production processes, workflows can be used to create jobs and to plan. This then sounds like automatic workflow-based work-order processing.

2.1 Automatic Job Creation/Activation

Work processes are, for instance, often not deterministic jobs are created 'on demand' at run-time of a project. It is decided, for example, in one workflow step X, that a job C must additionally be performed, but the jobs H through K are not required. Therefore, instead of permanently having to plan a hundred new jobs, you can leave it to the workflow engine to decide, using dependencies and rules, when each job is done and by whom. The dispatcher then just adjusts and only changes priorities etc., and supervises the overall capacity and compliance with the deadlines by state-visualization down to the level of job or milestone.

2.2 Form-Based Scheduling

Another major advantage of workflow-based task planning is the forms that can be built with the form server for each step in the workflow. Therefore, instead of using work orders with standard fields and layouts, workflow tasks can be much more detailed and can distribute and capture more detailed and dynamic information and thereby relieve the process and employees of information management tasks. The dispatcher has to take care of the less detailed requirements and job descriptions and can concentrate more on the pure scheduling tasks to find the best resource for a job to be done.

2.3 Rolling Out Adapted Jobs

There are many other ways in which workflows can help with planning. A common variant of our customers is, for example, to use workflows used to produce normal manual jobs in bulk. Recurring jobs in a period (e.g. TV series, year, batch job, etc.) are often only roughly planned (long term) and only later are the plans finalized (short term). Instead of simply copying exactly the same partial plan over a long period, workflows can be used to roll out the rough planning with the right data. Therefore, when the detailed planning is carried out later, less will have to be done. In addition, changes in the preliminary planning will already be rolled out to the more detailed planning data again en masse, instead of having to change all the copies individually.

2.4 Comprehensive Planning

An additional and very important deployment scenario is to regard scheduling itself as a process and not as a single function. Often, scheduling or the process around it is very complex and there are hundreds of employees and dozens of dispatchers involved simultaneously.

An example: a company is organized into service centers, one of which carries out activities at the prompt of another. In TV shows, for example, editing is requested by the producers. Then 'scheduling' means

  1. A requestor exists (which may itself be able to calculate)
  2. Then an approver if required
  3. Then various dispatchers, simultaneously or in dependent sequence; there may be very different dispatching teams for long-term and short-term planning, internal and external employees, custom or external capacities, broken down by areas or departments, etc.
  4. Then, if necessary, modifications/cancellations etc.
  5. Hence re-scheduling work
  6. Then performance and actual time recording
  7. Followed by review and approval

These types of complex arrangements can be performed efficiently only with a workflow system.