What is micro-scheduling?
As the name suggests, micro-scheduling refers to a detailed plan of work broken down into small increments either by hours or minutes. The concept was introduced mainly to improve productivity and track activities for those who find it difficult to do so. Over the years, micro-scheduling has been adapted by many organizations to help manage employee activities, organizational goals, consulting employees, project-based workforce, timesheets, and payrolls.
micro-scheduling in the service sector
Whether it's business services or personal services, every organization plans according to client requirements. While companies establish a certain amount of standardization in their service delivery, the nature of the business necessitates a certain amount of personalization. While haircuts are a standard request at a salon, every person's hair quality, length, face-cut, style, and requirement are different, requiring different approaches to service delivery. This mandates that all service personnel plan their service delivery in advance for a satisfying customer experience.
Scheduling, thus, becomes a part of their day-to-day work: whether it's a schedule built for an IT service project that goes on for months or an electrician's job at a newly built house that would take days, or that of a hairstylist who would plan their service in a matter of minutes from the time of customer's arrival. Schedules that take time are usually recorded, say that of an interior designer. The designer will gather information about the client's requirements and plan a schedule highlighting their estimated deadlines for every activity. In micro-scheduling, the designer must share with their clients a plan of work or activity that will be done on an hourly basis and update the same with a status report. While this can be cumbersome, it helps the service provider communicate the effort behind their work clearly as well as keep the client up to date on the developments throughout the project.
Scheduling applications, such as Appointo, that are built specifically for service organizations, not only help manage their appointments but also help track ongoing projects on a shared calendar. The application allows service providers to collaborate with stakeholders and clients on a shared calendar with an hour-by-hour activity schedule blocked as per their plans.
Pros and cons of micro-scheduling
Benefits of micro-scheduling
Micro-scheduling helps achieve absolute control over one's time. Managing time when handling multiple projects and activities is a major challenge that most people face. As a service provider, this challenge affects the quality of service and hinders customer experiences. Overcoming these by planning for activities well ahead of time is the best way to go. Since micro-scheduling plans in intervals ranging from 10-15 minutes, it also helps service providers plan strategic break periods while allowing customers book appointments as per their availability. It also helps service providers plan leaves and schedule maintenance activities in their calendars.
As an organization, strategic goal planning and establishing long-term visions for the company are annual activities. While these plans take a long-term view of the firms standing, they fail to permeate the milestones that departments and employees set for themselves in the short run. Aligning these goals when micro-scheduling helps overcome these disconnects. Let's take the example of a pathology lab that aims to grow into a multi-laboratory chain across the nation in the next five years. The micro-schedules for each pathologist and assistant in the firm will thus include communication with their regular customers about their available services across different geographies. They will ensure that every service delivered is followed up with an email that the service provider sends highlighting the laboratories services and availabilities across geographies. This helps service providers follow the standard practice and also adds towards the organizational goal.
Many individuals require a set plan to concentrate and perform better. With a multitude of services, many service providers fail to prioritize and clear tasks on time leading to delays and anxiety. micro-scheduling guides them into prioritizing and taking care of one task at a time. Let's take an example of a plumbing company that has taken up the project of laying down the entire plumbing system for a new school in town. The directly responsible individual for the project would find it easier if each of their days was cut into smaller chunks that help them concentrate on every activity that is going on throughout the site without distractions. micro-scheduling also helps them leave portions of days out for client interaction, status updates, strategic planning meetings, and more leading to better personal productivity.
Disadvantages of micro-scheduling
No room for error
micro-scheduling usually helps fill every minute of the day with a certain activity, leaving almost no room for errors. It is absolutely human to err and every activity scheduled into the calendar may not finish within the estimated time. Simple errors such as misdiagnosing the car's problem add a whole day's worth of efforts to correct. Errors such as these challenge the entire premise of micro-scheduling, driving the entire scheduling efforts out of control. As human errors are more common among personal services, micro-scheduling for the service industry faces this particular challenge the most.
No room for sudden changes
While schedules help manage and respect the time of the service provider as well as the client, it is impossible to predict sudden developments that may occur for any of the parties. Whether it's the client that has an urgent engagement to attend to and cancels their appointment last minute or it is the service provider who is unavailable at the scheduled time due to any personal emergencies. Since micro-scheduling does not sport flexibility in the calendar, such emergencies and changes are hard to accommodate.
"Micromanagement" has been a nightmare that many employees face across industries as managers and higher-ups expect the real-time status of projects and activities taking place across their departments. micro-scheduling enables micromanagement, which in turn builds an unfavorable environment for the employees to thrive. Employees often feel restricted as micromanagement does not allow for flexibility in performing the activity as they wish. Specifically in service businesses, as customer service agents tackle everyday problems faced by different clients with unique solutions, micromanagement becomes a hurdle rather than a guide.
Hype or here to stay?
While micro-scheduling has its advantages, it is specific to certain personalities and companies. As the disadvantages highlight, the most common workforce faces issues when implementing micro-schedules for daily work. The best solution would be to opt for micro-scheduling depending on the project being worked on - if the client requires to stay on top of every little activity then micro-scheduling is the way to go. Otherwise, it is a hype that will soon pass in favor of employee flexibility and customer experience.