Scheduling Software

The Importance of Customer Engagement and Communications in Production Scheduling is Only Going to Grow

The Importance of Customer Engagement and Communications in Production Scheduling is Only Going to Grow

The complexity of production, the unrealistic manufacturing expectations, the workforce constraints, the technicalities, etc., all together make manufacturing a bit challenging. By scheduling production in a digitally automated way, companies can control and optimize production processes. But, incidentally, customers stay engaged with brands who communicate promptly and deliver flawless products & services within committed deadlines. This is where production scheduling software steps in.

This article aims to provide a few basics about scheduling software, and highlights how customer engagement and communications in production scheduling is critical.

Unfolding the Power of Scheduling

Scheduling is all about planning & setting priorities to determine which tasks will be completed within a specific time frame. For example assigning resources, machines, and people for particular projects or tasks requires preparing a schedule. If done correctly, scheduling can help you get answers to questions like when a task will be over, what time an employee will arrive, or whether the materials are sufficient and so on. Scheduling ensures you have enough time to complete a project or manufacture a product.

Scheduling helps you keep track of everything, whether it is booking an appointment or optimizing resources. There are specialized tools available for different scheduling requirements. For example, appointment scheduling software is usually used for managing appointments by service-based businesses like healthcare clinics, spas & salons, etc. At the same time, professional companies use the meeting room booking system to streamline workspace usage.

Whether it is about a delayed project or the unavailability of a resource, a schedule prepared well in advance can enable you to mitigate all the problems about operations and production, resulting in optimized resource utilization, reduced waste of time and money, and increased returns on investment.

Scheduling Benefits

Let's now dive into details about production scheduling and why it is vital for manufacturing units.

What is Production Scheduling?

Production scheduling is a process of planning, arranging, and assigning resources and raw materials required to manufacture different products. Production scheduling keeps the workforce, customers, machines, materials and vendors in sync. A coherent production schedule can make the production process seamless, efficient, and cost-effective. The main goal of preparing a sound production schedule is to deliver quality products on time which improves customer satisfaction, eventually leading to business growth and consistent proliferation in revenue generation.

Using a robust production scheduling software is highly critical for businesses having manufacturing as their core process. The projects involving production require utilizing resources efficiently and accurately scheduling tasks & people to eliminate waste and delays, which eventually help in delivering the right quality and quantity of the projects within committed deadlines.

Production Delays Statistics
(Source: Oracle)

Thus, production scheduling is essential to sustain customers, grab new opportunities and solve issues before they arise. 

To better understand this concept, let's look at the different stages of scheduling the production process.

Stages of Production Scheduling Process

The four critical stages of the production scheduling process are planning, directing, scheduling, facilitating, implementing, and nurturing. Let's know more about these stages in detail.

Planning

Planning is all about deciding a process to follow while manufacturing products, simultaneously ensuring that you have enough raw materials, people, money, and resources required.

Directing

At this stage, professionals map out steps that outline directions from procurement to completion of a manufacturing project. From transporting raw materials to delivering finished products, the aim is to discover cost-effective paths leading to achieving predetermined goals.

Scheduling

Which tasks would be completed when? A well-prepared schedule can provide answers to this question. Scheduling refers to the time frame required to complete every task running within different processes of an organization.

Initiating the Production

At this stage, managers ensure that all projects and production processes are equipped with the required resources, people, and information. It also involves instructing team members about their distinctive roles and responsibilities during the product manufacturing process. 

Testing

Testing is very important to ensure that flawless products are delivered to the customers. After the production is completed the finished products are tested which leads to better customer satisfaction. 

Launching

A product launch is usually done when new products or solutions are introduced in the market. To grab the attention of the customers it is very important to launch the product within specific deadlines. 

Effective production scheduling is significant to achieve supply chain goals set by an organization. Production scheduling can be a solid competitive advantage for businesses if done correctly. But, at the same time, poorly designed production schedules need more consistency and agility to deal with internal and external disruptions that all businesses experience. To further elaborate on this topic, let's look at the importance of preparing an impeccable production schedule.

Why is it Important to Prepare an Impeccable Production Schedule?
 

Reduces Production Costs

A good production schedule fosters optimized use of resources leading to decreased wastage. Also, with the right production schedule on hand, you can make better decisions pertaining to task allocation based on the skills and qualifications of the employees. This eventually leads to better productivity and saves production costs. 

Improves Efficiency

The production schedule lets you map out the entire chain of events, from raw material procurement to the finished end product. Having a clear picture of how every process will unfold makes it easier to control inefficiencies at every stage of production. It also makes it possible to identify and avoid bottlenecks that can halt production. 

Increases Customer Satisfaction

A flawless production schedule streamlines every process, whether managing inventory or supplying finished goods. It helps in running the manufacturing process without interruptions. This eventually leads to quality products delivered within committed time frames for increased customer satisfaction and revenue generation.

Prevents Errors

A production schedule keeps track of the raw materials, inventory, machines, and equipment used in every manufacturing process step. This helps in reducing wastage or shortage of raw materials arising during production. Also, it enables maintaining a proper balance between the usage and capacity of the machinery and equipment, preventing errors throughout the manufacturing process.

Anticipate Bottlenecks

A flawless production schedule includes every detail starting from receiving raw materials to delivering finished products. It also includes diversified processes created to make production run smoothly as per the plan providing information on a real-time basis. This helps in identifying issues like underutilized resources, lessening productivity, increased overheads, etc. Anticipating these bottlenecks that can reduce the profitability of the company is very important to ensure consistent business growth and success.

These were some aspects that prove the importance of preparing impeccable production schedules. But, practically there are many complexities involved with planning and implementing flawless production schedules. Let’s have a look at those complexities and how to handle them.

The Complexities of Planning & Implementing a Flawless Production Schedule and How to Handle Them?
 

Understaffing or Overstaffing

Understaffing can result in a delay in production, and overstaffing can lead to high expenses lowering profits for a business. Fluctuations in staffing and assigning people to a particular project or product manufacturing process can adversely impact customer experiences and revenue generation. That is why predicting the number of employees for different processes running within the organization is essential. Also, before assigning the staff, it should be taken care that their specialized skills and qualifications align with the jobs given to them. Your production schedule should be realistic, keeping in mind that you are working with humans, and they can get sick or take long or short breaks for holidays. A robust employee scheduling software is required to ensure the production process is carried out flawlessly without any delays.

Delay in Raw Material Sourcing

For any production process, procuring raw materials on time is highly significant for timely completion. Sometimes, raw materials received on time fail quality tests, and thus they need to be replaced. In that case, production gets delayed, which leads to inefficiencies and financial losses. In that case, you must ensure that you are sourcing raw materials from reliable suppliers. Also, your production schedule plan should include the time gaps required to replace low-quality raw materials without impacting the manufacturing process. This helps in manufacturing high-quality products as per the commitments.

Communication Gaps

Sometimes planning well and predicting ahead of time is just not enough. You need to make last-minute adjustments to fulfill a few orders. If not appropriately communicated, these last-minute changes, like a machine breakdown, modifications in company policies, the absence of certain employees, etc., can disrupt a production schedule. A real-time production scheduling software provides complete visibility on the plan changes and  helps top management to remain as transparent as possible. 

As per State of the Connected Customer Report 2021, 74% of customers say communicating honestly and transparently is more critical now than before the pandemic.

New or Untrained Employees

It is a common problem that a company can lose productivity when the employees are new or untrained. It is a pretty slow and expensive process to train new employees. A production schedule should consider this factor and set realistic goals for new and untrained employees to provide the right commitments to their customers. Also, it should be ensured that the training process is quick so that there is consistent progress in production and customer satisfaction.

Siloed Information

Keeping all the employees working on a particular project or manufacturing process on the same page is challenging. Many times a manufacturing process is impacted by various departments within the organization. Siloed information across these departments can become erroneous and risky regarding quality production. In that case, using a cloud-based product management system that centralizes the information and keeps all the employees informed on a real-time basis becomes highly essential.

To summarize, businesses require creating flawless production schedules based on the availability of resources and sales orders. The final goal of a production schedule is to balance the delivery of the finished products with the customer demands while simultaneously operating cost-effectively. If the production schedule you create is accurate and feasible, you may experience problems manufacturing products and getting them delivered to your customers on time. To dive deeper into this subject, let's look at why it is essential to prepare an impeccable production schedule.

Factors to Consider while  Scheduling Productions?

Creating an accurate production schedule is crucial to align supply and demand. A production schedule also keeps diversified teams connected. Especially when most companies are following a hybrid working approach, keeping everyone associated with the production process on the same page is important. A robust production schedule can help in doing that. The two most important factors to consider while creating an effective production schedule - customer engagement and communications.

Customer Engagement

In today's competitive and diversified marketplaces, consumer demands are driving the industry, so engaging them throughout different touchpoints of production scheduling has become extremely important. Customers also expect more personalized services beyond marketing emails and special discounts. Engaging customers throughout the production process has become a critical way to stand out from competitors and deliver the experience they expect. This approach toward production scheduling keeps customers ahead when it comes to making crucial decisions and taking required actions. 

Communications

Clear, and frequent communication with the customers throughout the production process can help your employees to perform their jobs flawlessly and as per the customer demands. What if after manufacturing the product you come to know that it is not as per the customers’ preferences. Effective communication helps staff address the customer issues throughout the production process and ensure that the end-product is suiting to the customer requirements. This helps in saving time and eliminating wastage caused due to rejected production and helps you to gain excellence and set new standards within your industry.

Thus, engaging customers and communicating with them throughout the production process is extremely important. The production schedules prepared keeping customers informed at every step of the production are known as demand-driven production schedules. These days, there is a lot of buzz about demand-driven production scheduling. Let's know more about the same.

What is Demand-Driven Production Scheduling?

Demand-driven production scheduling is a holistic approach fueled by customer engagement and communications enabling manufacturers to make informed stocking and production decisions. It bridges the gap between customer orders and manufacturing execution. This means the number of products manufactured would equal the number of customer orders, leaving no scope for waste of raw materials, time, resources, and money. Manufactured products are often higher than customer demands, resulting in waste and increased dead investment. 

Demand-driven scheduling eliminates all uncertainties, reduces costs, ensures compliance, and increases sales. Let's learn more about the significance of demand-driven production scheduling for today's modern businesses.

Why is Demand-Driven Production Scheduling Important for Businesses?

A demand-driven production scheduling system provides 360-degree visibility over market demand, manufacturing capacity, and production requirements. This helps in prioritizing production tasks easily and aligning customer demands with manufacturing. It also enables businesses to quickly adapt to changing requirements, gain insights to make continuous improvements, and avoid unforeseen conditions. Some of the benefits of demand-driven production scheduling that involves customer engagement and communications are -

Businesses find demand-driven scheduling the next big opportunity to improve their performance and competitiveness. Also, they are looking forward to investing more in demand-driven technology that fosters customer engagement and communications in production scheduling.

Let's now look at preliminary and in-depth information about customer engagement and communications in production scheduling.

What is Customer Engagement in Production Scheduling?

Customer engagement in production scheduling builds relationships between businesses and their customers throughout the manufacturing lifecycle. Creating customer-oriented production schedules aims to keep customers aware of every detail and modification in the production plan and gain maximum value from the output. This helps strengthen relationships between businesses and their customers. Let's look at the crucial role of customer engagement in creating successful production schedules.

Crucial Role of Customer Engagement in Production Scheduling

A production schedule integrates different tasks of the manufacturing lifecycle. Involving customers throughout this lifecycle is essential to meet their expectations and gain loyalty. With a production schedule where customers are engaged at each level, the finished goods turn out to be good in quality and as per their expectations. Customer engagement in the production schedule should be maintained and improved. It is important because it drives businesses toward product innovation and staying ahead of the competition.

To better understand the benefits of engaging customers in production scheduling, let's have a look at some features of modern production scheduling systems that can enhance customer satisfaction and impact customer relations for companies on a global scale.

Features of Production Scheduling System That Improve Customer Engagement
 

Real-Time Updates

A flawless production schedule should be able to provide real-time updates about job allocations, inventory levels, process malfunctions, customer demands, etc. Based on this information, product managers can modify their strategies and ensure quality production meets customers' expectations. Also, keeping customers informed about information like when production is likely to be complete and when they can expect the finished products after testing and other quality checks. This enhanced visibility over every minute detail relating to the production schedule gives the ability to the managers to modify production strategies based on factors like changes in raw material procurement, external market conditions, etc. This helps in identifying bottlenecks and avoiding future implications.

Visual Planning

Production scheduling software enabling visual planning allows you to organize every detail of your manufacturing process, maintenance, and solving problems in a simple and effective way. This helps in streamlining the task of scheduling projects, resources, and people. It gives better control over all the interruptions caused throughout the production and enables on-time deliveries. It helps in following a collaborative approach wherein product managers and customers can view the plan intuitively on a real-time basis and contribute their efforts in making improvements and changes.

Prioritization

A production scheduling system allows managers to prioritize tasks based on customer demands. When several products are being manufactured in a company, the demand for a specific product might be higher than others. Based on that analysis and information, product managers can tweak the schedule and ensure that the products that customers highly demand are manufactured before those that are low in demand. Besides that, production schedule priorities can also be modified based on the delivery date and time committed. Prioritization in production scheduling enables companies to optimize product quality, cost, and quantity leading to enhanced customer engagement.

Creating Simulations and Analyzing What-if Scenarios

As production scheduling systems available these days provide real-time information and collect customer feedback at each stage of production, planners and managers can create simulations and analyze what-if scenarios. These real-time simulations and what-if scenarios are based on existing customer orders, allowing forecasting the future, planning, and addressing potential problems before they even arise. Additionally, the results of simulations and what-if scenarios enable planning realistic goals for the future. Also, it helps product planners and managers to collect more concrete information and make innovations in their products for a better customer experience and improved engagement.

Customer Experience Statistics
(Source: State of Customer Journey Management)

Engaging customers in a production schedule is crucial to achieving profitable results in a business. Historically, businesses relied on manual methods or spreadsheets to maintain their production schedules. This approach was not only time-consuming and tedious but also erroneous. As a result, businesses missed opportunities, failed to add innovative products, and ended up spending more due to low productivity. 

But now, businesses use production scheduling systems with a demand-driven approach that prioritizes customer engagement and communications. Instead of manufacturing units based on forecasted demand, it becomes beneficial for the companies to produce products based on actual demand. This enables them to perfectly align the manufacturing process with the number of actual orders. Thus, by engaging customers and effectively communicating with them, companies can make informed decisions about production scheduling and planning. 

Let's now have a look at how effective communication with customers helps in planning error-free production schedules.

How Effective Communication with Customers Helps in Planning Error-Free Production Schedules?

Effectively communicating with customers helps businesses to build and maintain trust and create long-term relationships resulting in better sales conversions and accelerated growth. Client communication refers to any informal or formal interaction you have with your clients about their past & existing orders and future demands. It can take many forms and can be done through various platforms like business websites, social media platforms, phone, email, or virtual and personal meetings.

Client communication plays an essential role in a business. When it comes to product scheduling, keeping clients informed, updated, and in line with employees is vital to know their choices and demands. This helps in manufacturing products without any flaws and complying with the customers' demands, eventually resulting in improved sales. To further elaborate, let's have a look at some benefits of integrating client communication strategies with the production scheduling process.

Identify Areas of Improvement and Innovate - Collecting customer feedback through surveys helps you know their pain points and enables you to innovate product features and improve delivery time frames.

Improve Customer Satisfaction - Keeping clients updated at every stage of production scheduling keeps them informed about the status of their product or project, leading to ultimate customer satisfaction.

Enhance Productivity - Communication helps you know when your customers want their finished products to be delivered and enables you to create product schedules with a perfect blend of resource optimization and speed.

Fosters Flexibility - There is no one-size fits all production schedule for organizations. Effective communication between employees and customers fosters flexibility in scheduling to balance available resources with production.

Drive Employees in the Right Direction - By consistently communicating with the customers, it becomes easy for the employees to understand customer needs and act accordingly.

Thus, communicating with clients throughout the production scheduling process helps in improving their engagement which ultimately helps in delivering quality products which ultimately results in business growth. Also, a customer-oriented production schedule helps you to think ahead of time and future-proof your business. Let's dive into the details.

How Can Customer Engagement and Communications Help in Future-Proofing Your Business?
 

Pay Attention to your Customer Needs

Engaging customers and communicating with them helps you pay attention to your customers' needs and know their pain points relating to your business and the products manufactured. This helps you view your business from your customers' perspectives and make improvements accordingly. Customer demands consistently evolve, and listening to their needs and innovating accordingly can help your business stay futuristic and excel even in changing market conditions.

Leverage Technology

Technology helps you to engage customers and communicate with them effectively. Improving tech capabilities while preparing production schedules helps you to serve your customers better and improve your business operations. For example, reminding customers about their appointments using appointment reminder software helps strengthen your communication strategies within the organization and improve customer engagement. Technology enables you to stay competitive and execute successful strategies with a futuristic approach. 

Implement Agile Practices

Agility is crucial for businesses that need to survive and grow in the competitive landscape today and in the future. Engaging and communicating with customers helps implement agile practices that ultimately future-proof your business. Accurate production scheduling leads to better operational efficiency and helps organizations follow and implement and follow agile practices enabling them to future-proof their business.

Save Funds for Crisis

Accurately predicting the future is difficult; preparing for future downturns can help strengthen your organization. Listening to your customers and engaging them while preparing production schedules is important to know which products will be in demand in the future and help you make the right stocking and investment decisions. Understanding customers' pain points allow you to make improvements and predict the crisis that may arise in the future.

Conclusion

Customers bring business. So, every business process should revolve around customer satisfaction. Involving them right from planning till output can save time, resources, and enhance productivity. Effective communication can foster customer engagement and loyalty. When it comes to production scheduling, involving customers, communicating with them at every stage can be beneficial. Getting closer to the customers can help businesses to deliver the service/product they desire.   

The more your business emphasizes implementing the right engagement and communication practices, the stronger your brand's connection with your customers will be. Understanding customers' pain points and tweaking your production scheduling can add value to their experience and keep your brand in the front seat of their minds. 

Powerful communication skills, better customer engagement tactics, and an integrated production scheduling system can help your business retain customers and gain loyalty. Consistently communicating with engaged customers and nurturing them is essential to sustain in cut-throat competitive business environments. Thus, customer engagement and communications in production scheduling are essential, and this importance will only grow and never fade away.

Jemimah
Jemimah

Jemimah Rodriguez is a content marketing specialist having 8+ years of experience in content writing, SEO, and social media optimization. At present, she is working with GoodFirms – a reliable platform helping businesses in selecting right Software Companies & Products. For further information, you can get in touch with her on [email protected].

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