November Release: More SMB Production Scheduling Power

    Martin Karlowitsch
    November 7, 2016
    I am thrilled to announce the roll-out of a further enhanced version of our just plan it software letting SMB manufacturers achieve an easy time and resource scheduling. With the recent big October update, we now have entered a cycle in which we aim at publishing a new version every 4-6 weeks for all our customers, partners, and those folks who still consider becoming a customer. With this agile release cycle, we also give our dear customers the opportunity to raise their voice, share with us their thoughts and ideas and have a short-term impact on our software. Most of the great stuff I introduce today actually originates in ideas coming from our customers. So, let's have a look at what is new this time.

    Infinite Resources

     This means that tasks are allocated - following the sequence number (priority) of their jobs - to the respective resources by making sure that tasks of a higher priority job have resources be assigned earlier than tasks of a lower priority job. So far, the scheduling engine was based on the assumption of finite resources, which meant that one resource could handle just one task at one moment in time. From now on, you also can define a single resources as infinite. To achieve this, you need to uncheck the "finite" checkbox when editing or adding a resource as you can see from the screenshot below. (The default setting is Finite)

    Definition of Infinite Resource.png

    With unchecking the "finite" checkbox, you define an infinite resource. Such an infinite resource can have assigned multiple tasks at the same point of time. Infinite resources are marked with the infinity symbol in the Resource View:

    Infinite Resource.png


    Different Texts on Bars in Job and Resource View

    From now on, all production scheduling users of the just plan it software can define different texts to appear on the task bars in the Job View and in the Resource View. For example, you can select to

    • Show the responsible resource in the Job View
    • Show the job name in the Resource View

    This is achieved via the settings dialog:

    Settings Dialog enhanced_v2.png


    Define Calendar Exceptions for all Resources 

    Icon_calendar deviations#.pngAnother new functionality enables all users (BASIC, PRO and ENTERPRISE) to define calendar exceptions for all resources in one go. As reminder, you can access the define calendar deviations dialog by pressing the icon shown at the left hand side. 

    Now, if you have e.g. a plant-wide shut down (e.g. for Christmas holidays), you can define this at once via the respective dialog and then tick the "all resources" checkbox.

    Define Calendar Exceptions.png


    Create Report on Change Log and Export to Excel

    Ever worked with just plan it and wanted to see which changes your colleagues just made to your production schedule? Good news is that we track your every single mouse interaction in the software and that from today all users (BASIC, PRO and ENTERPRISE) can run a report on the change log. Of course, you can also customize the time span of this report and the fields you want to see there.

    Icon_change log report.pngTo get going, click the new icon in the menu ribbon. This brings you to a new dialogue, which works like the recently introduced task and job report builder.

    It goes without saying that you can also export the change log report to Microsoft Excel and store the data there, or use Excel for analyzing and tweaking the data further.

    Change Log Report.png


    New Symbols for Resource and Time Restrictions

    This feature only becomes relevant when working in the automatic scheduling mode with the scheduling engine and hence it applies just to PRO and ENTERPRISE customers. Applying the automatic scheduling mode, drag & drop changes of the production schedule are interpreted as setting constraints. Examples:

    • If you work in the Job View and have the scheduling strategy set to ASAP, moving a bar horizontally to the right (or left) is interpreted as setting a "start not earlier than date" for that task. This is what we call a time constraint. This is not new.
    • If you work in the Resource View, and move a bar vertically from one resource to another, this is interpreted as setting a resource constraint, which means that the scheduling will never move this task to a different resource. This is not new as well.

    So, what is new? Well, now symbols appear when you expand the Job View or the Resource View to let you easily recognize the constraints that have been set.

    This is how a task with a time constraint looks like (task no 20):

    Time Constraint.png

    This is how a task with a resource constraint is flagged:

    Resource Constraint.png

    And here is how you can identify a task with a time and a resource constraint:

    Time and Resource Constraint.png


    Apply a Task-specific Color for Started and Finished Tasks

    As you might know, the just plan it software currently treats all jobs and tasks as planned - in the sense that we do not (yet) have any functionality to mark a job as finished, or mark a task as started and/or as work-in-progress. These task states (started, finished) not only bear a big potential but also bear a big risk to do harm to the ease-of-use of our software, as they will virtually add a kind of real-time execution layer to the current "planning only" layer. Hence, we started analyzing different scenarios and are in the process of finalizing our concept how to add this real-time functionality to just plan it. That means, it is yet to come (not this year, but for sure in 2017).

    With this release, we enable all users (BASIC, PRO, and ENTERPRISE) to at least visually flag a task thus indicating whether it is 

    • planned
    • finished
    • started

    This is done via the "Manage Task Details" dialog and hence can be specified individually per task:

    Manage Task Details.png

    This will lead to the following visual behavior (please note: it is just a color you change; the entire scheduling behavior will not get impacted by this!):

    • planned tasks keep their default color (grey for quoted, light blue for ordered, dark blue for released and red for late; with red overriding all the other colors)
    • finished tasks are marked black
    • started tasks are marked green

    New Color Scheme.png


    Select Date Format

    We also enhanced the Settings Dialog in a way that all users (BASIC, PRO and ENTERPRISE) can select between three locales that are applied to the way we show dates and times in the timescale and in the tooltip text. You now can choose between

    • English - US (eg: 11/14/2016 03:40 PM | Monday | wk47)
    • English - GB (eg: 14/11/2016 15:40 | Monday | wk46)
    • German (eg: 14.11.2016 15:40 | Montag | KW46)

    User Management

    Last, but definitively not least: I am happy to share with you that we introduce a comprehensive user management functionality to all customers (BASIC, PRO, and ENTERPRISE).

    1. Gone are the days that you have to work with cryptic login names such as
    2. Gone are the days that you need to reach out to us in order to add your colleagues as users of the just plan it software.
    3. Gone are the days that you need to reach out to us in order to change a user from planner to viewer or vice versa.

    Before I share with you how to access and work with the new user management functionality, there are some important terms to clarify. We differentiate three user modes and two different user permissions.

    User modes are:

    • "Super admin": this is the owner of the account; the guy who can change everything.
    • "Admin": users who are allowed to add other users, and to change roles.
    • "User": users without any admin right.

    User permissions are:

    • "Planner": folks who are allowed to make changes to the schedule.
    • "Viewer": folks who are just allowed to view the schedule.

    Icon_user management.pngOK. Let's see how you can manage all of this on your own. Start with clicking the new "user management" icon in the menu ribbon.

    As of now, a new tab in your browser opens and brings you to your just plan it user management console:

    User Management Console_v2.png

    The user management console is split into two areas:

    • Left hand side: overview of your account details
    • Right hand side: overview of your users

    Let's look at this from right to left and see what you can do here, and hence let's start with the user info:

    1. Click the "+" button to open a new dialog in which you can add new users. Provide a user name, the email of the user, the permission (planner/viewer) and the user mode. Whenever you do so, we will send an email to the new user with a warm welcome to just plan it and some getting started information.
    2. With the trash icon, you can delete the user.
    3. With the pen icon, you can edit the respective user's settings.

    At the left hand side, in the the account info area, you can see some statistics about your account and you have two buttons with which you can upgrade your subscription and buy more tasks to be scheduled in the software. It goes without saying that this will take you directly to our Sales folks ;-)

    Next Steps

    So, that's it for the November release: we believe that this will further empower the production scheduling capabilities of the just plan it software. Stay tuned for more to come in December. And with this, I wish all customer big fun testing out this new stuff. For those of you, who are not yet a customer, why not giving it a try now?

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