Ok, not backward exactly. There is no one correct order for scheduling the Activities that make up a Job, but most of our customers schedule the Template activity first. Then they use AutoSchedule to add tentative dates on the calendar for Fabrication and Install – and any other Activities they might have added to their standard Job Template. When setting up AutoSchedule, they usually think in terms of : “How many days do I need after Template to Fabricate? How many days do I need after Fabrication to Install?”
But you could also set up your process to work in the other direction: from Install to Template. Patrick and Aaron discuss the merits of this approach in the very first episode of StoneTalk. For some businesses, it makes sense to start by confirming the Install date with the customer. You can set up AutoSchedule to then work backward to schedule Template and Fabrication (and any other Activities) based on this agreed upon Install date.
This “reverse” process sets customer expectations very clearly up front. If a customer absolutely has to have her countertops installed earlier than you can manage, you might decide that you’re better off turning down the business – before you invest any more of your time. If, on the other hand, you wait to confirm the Install date until later in the process, you will likely feel more pressure to squeeze the customer into your already booked schedule – for fear of hurting your professional reputation.
If you do decide to take the job, confirming the Install date up front will give you time to see what activities and staff you can juggle to make it work. Making these plans early on can prevent the kinds of overbooking and backlog that eat away at profit margins when you end up paying your Install crews overtime in order to get caught up.
Give it some thought, and if you think this process might work for you, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call to help you get started.