Original Date: 08/08/1994
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Centralized Resource Scheduling
There are as many as 250 daily test projects at CSTA with individual specific resource requirements for manpower, equipment, instrumentation, ranges, and facilities. To manage this demanding and constantly changing workload, CSTA has developed a centralized scheduling process (see graphic) under the ownership of its Resource Coordination Division (RCD). RCD produces monthly, weekly, and daily schedules that distribute resource requirements from a matrix organization of support groups in an optimal way to meet the needs of the test directors.
Before centralized scheduling was implemented, only the firing ranges and some personnel requirements were scheduled on a centralized basis. All other resources were scheduled independently through the individual area supervisors. Test directors had to spend considerable time and effort lining up resources needed for their test projects, often negotiating with respective area supervisors. Priorities were set by availability rather than being driven by customer needs. The only formal schedule that was published was a hand-typed daily firing range schedule that was compiled each day from paper and pencil master sheets. There was little or no coordination between support groups.
Pressure for change came as defense funding was cut back and competition with other test centers for work intensified. Optimizing resources and reducing costs were critical to keeping CSTA competitive and satisfying its customers. Centralized scheduling was needed to control support resources for the more than 700 test programs in progress each year. Close coordination and communication between support groups and test managers became essential to avoid waste, shortages, and crisis management.
Most scheduling requirements have now been centralized within RCD which schedules 80% of the support resources at CSTA. Those groups not directly scheduled are provided priorities by RCD. These are generally for services such as failure analysis and chemical laboratory services that are difficult to forecast. Formal weekly and daily schedules based on monthly forecasts coordinated with the test directors are published for range firing, automotive, engineering support, and military personnel.
Each of the published schedules is created using its own unique process, although the process flows are similar. The daily weapons firing schedule provides a typical example. When a firing requirement becomes known (often months in advance) the test director submits a Firing Scheduling Request form. This form details firing support, weapon, and ammunition requirements. It includes the number and types of personnel, equipment and vehicles, instrumentation, and other support resources requested. Based on this input, RCD develops a monthly forecast draft which is sent to each test director on the first of the month for the next month's changes and additions. Changes are made to the database, and the final forecast is published by the 15th. Each week changes are sent to RCD by Tuesday noon for the next week's schedule. Changes are made to the database and totals coordinated with support groups. If necessary, the test directorate supervisors meet at mid-week to resolve conflicts. A tentative daily schedule is issued early the following day, reviewed, and finalized. Processing is done on an HP-3000 computer and draft schedules can be reviewed on line via LAN or by printed hard copy.
Priorities are based on milestone schedules and funding posture. Internal work flow priorities are based on event sequences, support matrix capacities, and intelligent intervention by RCB schedulers based on communication, knowledge of the overall picture, and experience. Precedence lists have been established for recurring situations. When conflicts arise, they are elevated to successively higher levels within the command as appropriate for resolution.
Benefits of automating this process over the previous handwritten system are increased accuracy and efficiency. Data storage has greatly improved, and most paper has been eliminated. The process facilitates communication and coordination, allowing more to be accomplished with fewer resources and at lower cost. Forecasting and after-action capabilities are also enhanced. The system has removed the burden of setting priorities from the first line supervisors. Priorities are now established based on planned requirements set by the test directors with corporate involvement.
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