Developing a schedule for your warehouse project


In major material handling or storage equipment jobs at your facility, there must be a detailed schedule. When is the schedule completed? Once you have a thorough activity duration plan completed with a flow chart of activities. So what exactly is included in the schedule? It’s often overlooked what details should be included to avoid conflict, issues, delays, and negative risks. Are you implementing a major software program throughout your facility? Are you moving to a new warehouse? Is your operations expanding internationally? Perhaps you’re evaluating a brand new storage solution with racking, shelving, or horizontal shuttles. These projects (not simply orders) should have in place a detailed schedule. The project data that you’ve accumulated during planning activities, such as leads, lags, and other information, will be part of the schedule detail.

Let’s summarize a top 10 list of what is required to develop a finalized schedule that your team, suppliers, management and others buy-into.

  1. First work with priorities of the major stakeholders. When does management need to be operating? Do you have customers expecting goods based on the project? What about staff – will they be trained and ready to operate with the end result if any?
  2. Evaluate other options to complete the work. Perhaps there are more economical ways to complete the project? Or, there are far better scheduling opportunities with the project.
  3. What are the impacts of this material handling or storage project on other organizational projects? Is it a dependancy? Is it a competing project out of the capital budget? Visualize where this project stands form the company point of view.
  4. Negotiate extra resources from other departments if required. Material handling generally seems to only deal with warehouse staff, right? What about the accounting team that will be budgeting for payments. Consider the sales team who depend on moving product from the warehouse. Is customer service prepared to explain potential delays? Are they expected to spread awareness of your warehouse move? Negotiate the necessary resources to bring transparency and a solid team effort in implementing the project.
  5. Consider all possible leads and lags of the project. Which activities allow for delay without delaying the entire project? Use this information to use as concessions if resources are needed elsewhere throughout the organization. Use these ares to tackle risks more effectively. Do not include “buffers”, as that is not an effective way to deal with risk. Rather use this time to prepare risk responses if applicable to your project.
  6. If your schedule needs crashing, do it now. Crash resources in certain areas where needed to complete the necessary activities in the schedule. Fast-track the activities that show a high chance success rate of saving time.
  7. Simulate the schedule with software programs to judge how the project will flow, and if it will be completed on time. This is probably a step for major projects involving warehouse moves, facility design, expansions, etc.
  8. Get buy-in from your stakeholders. If you’re the warehouse manager, how does the operations and senior management team feel about the project? If you’re relaying on a supplier such as RACKsteel to handle this portion of the project management, ensure you’ve identified all the correct stakeholders in your meetings. That way, we could present effective conversations with all levels of your operation to gain formal approval of the schedule.
  9. Do not only get buy-in from the senior management. What about the team that will be using the product or end result? What are their views? You may come across team members resistance to change, experience turnover, or underestimate the impact of the project on stakeholders not considered decision makers. Gain approval from all levels.
  10. Implement the schedule and measure performance. Is a change request necessary? Identify all options before making a change request.