Simple, Powerful Software for Resource-Constrained, Multi-Project Scheduling

Optisol production imageNowadays, many organizations concurrently pursue a variety of projects of different sizes using several common resources. Their objective is to maximize project completion rate and on-time completion subject to the availability of limited resources. Multi-project scheduling subject to resource constraints is very relevant to many types of organizations like: fabrication shops, tool and mold making units, wood working units, custom furniture makers, ship builders, equipment makers, design and engineering depart-ments, research and development units, etc. In all such organizations, the limited capacity of resources is very unlikely to support a schedule that is created by ignoring resource requirements of tasks. Multi-project scheduling is difficult due to:

  • The variety of concurrent projects
  • Dependency relations among tasks of each project and possible cross-project dependency relations
  • Limited set of resources which are to be shared across projects
  • Restrictions on project lead times
  • Changes in project priorities and work requirements
  • Natural variation and unexpected events.

For the same reasons, it is difficult to predict progress and completion times of projects. Lack of such prediction causes more anxiety to meet project deadlines and leads to early start of projects, longer project lead times and more firefighting for expediting projects which fall behind.

A Major Weakness of Critical Path Method for Resource-Constrained, Multi-Project Scheduling

Critical path method (CPM) is the most popular way for creating a project schedule. But, it basically ignores resource requirements of tasks in schedule generation and therefore, the resulting schedule may involve resource overloading (resource over-allocation or resource conflicts) situations. A vast majority of project management software tools implement CPM, thereby failing to create a multi-project schedule with automatic, feasible assignment of resources to tasks. To eliminate resource overloading in multi-project schedules created by such tools, people perform manual resource leveling which can become cumbersome, laborious and time consuming. The above mentioned industries cannot afford such practice because they often need to revise their resource-leveled schedule. Therefore, CPM-based software tools are not efficient for multi-project scheduling subject to resource constraints.

Optisol Solution to Resource-Constrained, Multi-Project Scheduling

We offer a powerful, affordable software tool, Schedlyzer Lite for multi-project scheduling with automatic, feasible assignment of resources to tasks. Based on a rigorous version of finite capacity scheduling (FCS) logic, Schedlyzer Lite optimally schedules finite capacity resources to increase on-time completion of projects and project completion rate and reduce project lead times and work in process as shown in the second diagram on web page, Lean Production. FCS is more appropriate than CPM when the limited capacity of resources cannot support CPM schedules and manual resource leveling is laborious. One can have a glimpse of Schedlyzer Lite functionality from a brief YouTube video on our home page.

Eliminating the need for laborious, time-consuming resource leveling, Schedlyzer Lite enables schedulers to perform quick and extensive what-if analysis of resource-leveled schedules and also proactive capacity planning. What-if analysis plays a major role in decision making process and proactive capacity planning. Schedlyzer Lite also handles uncontrollable natural variation in the system to some extent through buffer times. It has also an elegant, interactive graphic user interface for drag-and-drop operations on Gantt chart.

Schedlyzer Lite can take input data from a simple Excel file. With Excel interface, the tool enables schedulers to take full advantage of the power and convenience of Excel along with our rigorous scheduling logic and interactive graphic features. The minimal data required by Schedlyzer Lite is:

  • Basic information for each project containing project ID, due date, priority, etc
  • Information for each project containing task list and task number, name, estimated hours, resource requirements and predecessors for each task
  • Basic information about resources and resource groups along with weekly resource calendars.

Schedlyzer Lite is very useful for resource-constrained scheduling, particularly in production environment where work requirements of each order resemble a project. One of its real strengths apart from generating a resource-constrained schedule is the support for fast and extensive what-if analysis of schedules. Schedlyzer Lite also provides intelligent decision support for resource-constrained, multi-project management.

Practical utility of a scheduling tool can be properly evaluated for any specific production unit by using it with real data for some days. For this reason, we freely offer duly configured, fully functional, 60-day trial copy of Schedlyzer Lite. Contact us for a free trial copy. Before giving the free trial copy, we would first present a live web demo of Schedlyzer Lite and configure the copy as required for your system. We would also offer you free help during trial runs.