They have three divisions, each with unique Prep and Party rates in 19 different Skill areas. There are 1,200 contractors, most with multiple Skills (Bartender, Waiter, Captain, etc.) to match up with their master party plans. The rates for the different divisions need to be independently calculated and seamlessly integrated. Ultimately, client invoices and payroll reports need to be generated.
This was the challenge presented. One more question came up as the proposal was being prepared, so I gave my new client a call. How many contractors are needed for their largest events? Three hundred, came the reply. It wasnt getting any simpler.
Now, todays computers and software can process 300 or 3,000 records in about the same time. But users can only absorb so much information. So in addition to the significant technology challenges, crucial usability issues needed to be addressed.
The core of the solution developed is a variation of a real-time inventory system, with contractors as inventory. Buttons and scripts instantly calculate the number of Waiters, Captains and Bartenders Needed and Staffed as they are assigned. Multiple layouts accommodate the different divisions rate structures once the master calculations are developed. Start and Finish times input in the original master plan database are used to calculate payroll.
Once Project Management Solutions developed the resource allocation, multiple rate structure and payroll solutions, our client resumed his development efforts and is taking it live as this is written. Well give a final review the solution in a future newsletter.
Chicken Bones, Anyone?
Youve seen the experts presentation. His capabilities have been demonstrated. The proposal is comprehensive and professional. Hes a personable sort with good references.
But the very reason you want to hire him causes you the most anxiety. Hes got the technology chicken bones.
How often will you have to call on him to wave his chicken bones over the software to make it work? How much bone-waving is involved in setting up a new employee on the system? What if he goes on vacation and takes the chicken bones with him? Whats the one question or objective thats not being considered that could double the original budget some time in the future?
Of course, we wouldnt bring this up if we werent prepared to address these issues.
And its just been determined there isnt nearly enough space to cover them here. But if the subject intrigues you, call, write or email and request our paper The Chicken Bone Syndrome, and well send you a copy. Or check it out on our Web site: www.pm-solutions.net/chicken.htm.
The bottom line is Chicken bones arent all theyre cracked up to be. Get it? (Ive always wanted to be a writer in the worst way, and the goal seems closer with every sentence written).
The Bipedal Solution
We made one unexpected recommendation: Replace the automatic scheduling system with a simpler, less automated one.
Why? Well, the existing system was unreliable, easily foiled and slow. It had been under continuous development (by another firm) for months. There are too many variables to cover every possible scheduling scenario, but there was willingness to keep trying. Weve suggested that the ultimate tool for this complex task is a well-trained user with scheduling experience.
The jurys still out on this one. Well let you know what happens.
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