Increase operational efficiency by decreasing Excel dependency
Increase operational efficiency by decreasing Excel dependency
Note to reader – the below blog post is expressly technical in nature and has as its objective to explain the use case of Planisy for schedulers who are using Excel worksheets for their resource scheduling.
Excel has created the conditions for teams to efficiently manage business operations and boost productivity since it was first introduced in 1985. Nearly 40 years on, Excel worksheet methods are still widely used and considered a valid option, essentially for lack of simple yet powerful alternatives.
In resource planning and scheduling for example, while expectations for productivity tooling have evolved considerably, many are still using static spreadsheets, often to the detriment of efficiency. Among the oft-cited shortcomings are “Management Load” and “User Fatigue”, and the fact that Excel can be “meeting-heavy” when trying to reconcile the resource management puzzle among the team – not to mention all those doc version updates for each incremental change to the plan.
Here are a few scenarios you may be experiencing and how Planisy solves them:
A need for multi-type resource scheduling obliges you to abstract to Excel
In enterprises of all sizes, the multi-type resourcing solution need is dominated by the spreadsheet. Though this method is limited in capabilities and prone to errors – essentially a number-calculating app doctored into a worksheet. Often this comes about because data resides in different systems – the workforce data in the WFM tool, the resources in the ERP, the procedures in the LMS, or the task in the PM tool. Or you may be sharing your planning “across company lines” in multi-party deliveries.
Planners end up hand-abstracting the planning to an Excel spreadsheet because of a lack of any other agnostic abstraction layer.
Everyone is familiar with Excel, but it’s “meeting-heaving”
A typical scenario is that management accumulates the equivalent of two half-days of planning time at the start of the week, arbitrating resources into a plan. You get a static spreadsheet that everyone must input into, and the scheduling then has to be reconciled across many parties. When you think about it, how do 10 managers come to a plan in a way that is not “meeting-heavy”?
It either becomes a “hardcoded entity” – no-one can now touch it – or it requires a “gatekeeper” to manage 1-by-1 increments multiple times.
With ample management time invested, you cannot now change how the resource plan looks. The spreadsheet becomes “hardcoded” until the next weekly scheduling exercise. No-one can modify it except the Gatekeeper, making the whole structure a “collaboration-blocker”, stifling organic input to the scheduling, any scope for dynamic readjustment, as well as potential to reduce day-to-day arbitration.
A hardcoded Excel plan that does not “see” resource conflicts cannot handle daily or hourly real-world changes
Unplanned priorities happen. Things change fast, and the change never happens along the same type of human or material resource. A hardcoded entity not “aware” of resource inter-dependencies is not fit for the requirements of dynamic readjustment leading to operational inefficiency and productivity loss.
Here’s how Planisy solves it
Instead of abstracting to an Excel, abstract to Planisy
Planisy is “Powered by dizmo”, an interactive workspace acting as a system-agnostic abstraction layer able to retrieve, read and write data concurrently to all subsystems.
Architecturally, it is “By-Design Expandable”, meaning that it can modularly and cumulatively surface and interoperate data from any 3rd party system, such asERPs, internal process tools, analytics, real-time IoT data systems or an AI decision assistance algorithm. Or simply, if your data are already in a spreadsheet form, probably multiple Excel files, abstract them to Planisy for a higher level of usability, which means enhanced effectiveness, efficiency, and greater user satisfaction.
Simultaneous personalisation + a UI that reduces the noise, thereby increasing usability and reducing the need for the gatekeeper
In Excel when you unfreeze columns or adjust pivot table filters you are changing it for everyone – simultaneous personalisation is not possible. Typically, freeze panel and pivot table filters get taken off and you get full, unconstrained visibility to all the fields – meaning “white noise” and fatigue.
With the Planisy UI, multiple managers can be accessing the same resourcing data at the same time via different logins and views of the same data set. It’s collaborative and personalised at the same time.
The feature set creates an environment that encourages collaboration, which, in turn, induces organic input into the planning exercise.
Or it may even be simpler than that. Successful digitisation here can also be about simply reducing the number of clicks or freeing you up from time-consuming asynchronous spreadsheet updates.
Guiding stop-checks and levers enable dynamic rescheduling
Highly moderatable role-based permissions, useful user-definable “constraints” (also known as Allocation Rules), colour-coded misallocation alerts, the ability to “absent” a resource. All these save on surplus, duplicate allocations, and non-allocations – in short, resource allocation accuracy errors. They also provide the scope for enhanced capacity planning.
It has a timeboard. So, you can be “scheduling tasks, not simply distributing ownership”.
The Timeboard navigation offers visual feedback and interaction options that an Excel worksheet cannot have, such as user-friendly zoom-to-allocation, clicking and grabbing a green time bar to reallocate it up or down, interactive drag & drop enabling resource allocation in a swipe, and more.
One customer described the Timeboard as “transformative”, in the sense that it enabled a change in the way of working. Visual and rules-based accuracy meant that schedulers could be allocating the resources for the actual dates for the task to be done, not a wider-ranging period of ownership. And the timeboard is just one of the views which can be built and used to manage resources’ allocations.
When management load and misallocations are reduced, what does the value outcome ultimately look like?
In the real world, it looks like a 90% time savings and day to day scheduling burden decreased from two half days a week, to just 30 minutes. This from a case study from the construction sector, where 20% of management’s time was spent planning in Excel.
Previously, days would go by, and they ended up having multiple silo’ed plans for each construction site management team in tabbed spreadsheets – an eye-watering document of “hardcoded” weekly plans.
Bringing visibility and biz rules to it via the Planisy timeboard made it interactive and enabled “dynamic” scheduling and rescheduling.
Another KPI is Cost Variance. If you are scheduling for projects, delivery lead times take a hit if resource inter-dependencies are not taken into account as you are doing it in Excel. Deviation has a cost. If you are in construction, it may mean renting more equipment or paying overtime. In a hospital, it could mean resources not properly allocated, and pressure on the CIO to buy more equipment.
For one mid-sized integrator, Planisy colour-coded alerting exposed on average 8 misallocations along the ~40 tasks in each monthly sprint, blocking lines of work and significant Lead Time lost.
We see it very often. In many ways, Excel is a natural launchpad to jump to Planisy.