Saturday, October 30, 2021

Supply chain scheduling

What can I say here that you've not heard before?

First: we are living in a time of scarcity, and so strategies for allocating scarcity come to the fore.

Second, demand for the scarce drives price -- no news there -- but demand itself may color supply and thereby schedule. Supply will not be directly correlated with price. Why? Because supply is what is going to be allocated, and price in dollars may not be currency. The currency of supply may take these forms: 
  • allocation may bring loyalty into the mix; 
  • may bring commitment to very long term relationships as the price of access
  • may favor the cash deal over credit
  • may require large up-front down payments that didn't exist before 
  • may require quid pro quo: you have something I want; but I have something you want
Scheduling the scarce
So, now your job is to schedule in the context of such a landscape.
You begin with the normal risk tolerant scheduling techniques like those explained in "Critical Chain" theory:
  • Be sure you understand that the 'most important schedule path' may not be -- technically -- the critical path. 'Most important' is where the critical value is as viewed by the customer or sponsor.
  • Protect the 'most important' path by allocating what resources to that path first, and starving, if necessary, others
  • Generously buffer around all the key milestones so that none are 'fragile' in the sense of bringing down the project if the nominal target date is missed
Architecture may help
Your architect can help you by designing-in all the anti-fragile strategies so that a missing part or resource, or a  sub-optimum substitute, is not fatal or cause a chaotic outcome. Your job is then to schedule these strategies into the master plan.
  • Redundancy
  • Negative feedback for stabilization
  • 'Rip-stop' interfaces between subsystems, objects, and other elements
Your CFO may help
  • Cash is king when demand exceeds supply
  • Long-term contracts with favorable financial incentives may free up supply
Your take away:
Scheduling with scarcity is not just an exercise in time management. All the other disciplines can play a part.

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