Recently we have started a new scheduling process at AYC, having traffic meetings daily and always reevaluating the schedule. There are many moving parts that are involved when determining the final schedule for the studio. It is important to break projects into milestones to help better tackle large projects. It is almost impossible to schedule a project from start to finish and never reevaluate the timeline of each phase–there are too many variables throughout the entire process.
We begin by breaking projects into smaller milestones to better determine delivery dates for each phase. Each task is broken into Pebbles, Small Rocks, Large Rocks and Boulders. This breakdown helps us schedule based on how long each task will take a team member to complete. Pebbles are tasks that take four hours or less to complete. Small Rocks are a day worth of work. Large Rocks are a day to two days of work, and, finally, Boulders are anything over two days of work. This breakdown then helps us take all projects currently in the queue and easily schedule based on time of each team member.
For example, the design queue will consist of most Pebbles and Small Rocks for the team to complete for the week. This is now where our daily traffic meeting becomes critical. The tasks we have broken down are based on a range of time, meaning some tasks may not take the entire four hours of a Pebble. Giving us the ability to move additional Pebbles into the queue earlier.
Front end development will consist of all task sizes of projects ranging from Pebbles of items that are quick updates up to Boulders that are entire site buildouts. When scheduling, it is important to know when and where Pebbles can be addressed while also completing a Boulder. This helps to maintain the projected timelines while still completing additional tasks that may have surfaced.
Finally, we have built in Water Breaks that are scheduled for each team member. Water Breaks are scheduled to have flex in the schedule. Since we are scheduling weeks in advance, we need to be able to manage client expectations based on our schedule. Water Breaks act as a buffer when handling a lot of tasks. The Water Break is designed to provide extra time if a task takes longer than expected or to get a head start on the next tasks. If a team member completes all tasks scheduled, we have now become ahead of scheduling allowing us to continue forward to the additional items that have been scheduled. If during the week a few emergency items arose, the Water Break is there to provide time to complete the tasks that got pushed to complete our emergency.
Now that we have the schedule complete the most important thing is standing up for the schedule. If an item comes in that has not yet been scheduled, we cannot stop everything we have worked so hard for and complete the task. This task would need to be scheduled accordingly in our planning meetings to ensure we are able to maintain the expectation we set for each client previously.
This system has provided a great deal of help with managing client expectations. Giving us a better understanding of how and when each item in the queue for the studio will be completed.