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Scheduling the Safety Lab

“Now see here, Tom, I understand your problem well,” remarked dr. Polly, director of the research Laboratories. “I pay you a good salary to run the safety labs. That salary also includes doing the necessary scheduling to match our priorities. now, if you can’t handle the job, I’ll get someone who can.”

Tom: “Every Friday morning your secretary hands me a sheet with the listing of priorities for the following week. once, just once, I’d like to sit in on the director’s meeting and tell you people what you do to us in the safety lab when you continually shuffle around the priorities from week to week.

“on Friday afternoons, my people and I meet with representatives from each project to establish the following week’s schedules.”

Dr. Polly: “Can’t you people come to an agreement?”

Tom: “I don’t think you appreciate my problem. Two months ago, we all sat down to work out the lab schedule. Project X-13 had signed up to use the lab last week. now, mind you, they had been scheduled for the past two months. But the Friday before they were to use it, your new priority list forced them to reschedule the lab at a later date, so that we could give the use of the lab to a higher-priority project. We’re paying an awful lot of money for idle time and the redoing of network schedules. only the project managers on the top-priority projects end up smiling after our Friday meetings.”

Dr. Polly: “As I see your problem, you can’t match long-range planning with the current priority list. I agree that it does create conflicts for you. But you have to remember that we, upstairs, have many other conflicts to resolve. I want that one solved at your level, not mine.”

Tom: “Every project we have requires use of the safety lab. This is the basis for our problem. Would you consider letting us modify your priority list with regard to the safety lab?”

Dr. Polly: “Yes, but you had better have the agreement of all of the project managers. I don’t want them coming to see me about your scheduling problems.” Tom: “How about if I let people do long-range scheduling for the lab, for three out of four weeks each month? The fourth week will be for the priority projects.”
Dr. Polly: “That might work. You had better make sure that each project manager informs you immediately of any schedule slippages so that you can reschedule accordingly. From what I’ve heard, some of the project managers don’t let you know until the last minute.”

Tom: “That has been part of the problem. just to give you an example, Project VX-161 was a top-priority effort and had the lab scheduled for the first week in March. I was never informed that they had accelerated their schedule by two weeks. They walked into my office and demanded use of the lab for the third week in February. Since they had the top priority, I had to grant them their request. However, Project BP-3 was planning on using the lab during that week and was bumped back three weeks. That cost them a pile of bucks in idle time pay and, of course, they’re blaming me.”

Dr. Polly: “Well, Tom, I’m sure you’ll find a solution to your problem.”


1. Should dr. Polly have provided support?
2. What should Tom have done if he did not get the support he needed?

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