The Critical Difference Between Planning and Scheduling

Planning and scheduling have many things in common and are sometimes confused for the same technique. However, to best differentiate the two, consider looking into applications and architectures of processes, knowledge representation and problem solving ideas, heuristic techniques, iterative improvement and domain-specific techniques. Other factors to consider may include constraint-based techniques, and integrated reaction and user interaction.

Planning and Scheduling

Taking the angle of configuration on the two, they share lots of interdependencies. However, both rely on activities to achieve certain goals. These activities require resources and there is always the set of constraints observed during the performances.

The result of performances for both planning and scheduling is referred to as a plan. Nonetheless, one of the main differences between the scheduling and planning is that the former mostly deals with temporal assignment activities whereas the latter primarily focuses on the order of how activities should be performed. As such, planning answers the question “what has to be done” whereas scheduling enlightens on “when this has to be done”.


Since we are taking the angle of configuration, planning is responsible for finding control algorithms that command different agents such as robots, humans and machines to synthesize the process of action and attain their goals.

This means that, for one to understand a planning problem, he has to understand the description of the goals. This will allow him to come up with possible actions that are carried out to achieve desired goals. As covered before, a plan being the result of planning, it covers the sequence of activities in the order they will be executed in order to reach the aimed goals.

Research innovation comes a long way to formalise the sequence of actions by creating an effective model of the anticipated activities and their order of occurrence way before the plan is implemented. This research model is expected to meet the planning algorithms in theory and deliver the qualified goals before the real implementation is launched. When it comes to configuration, most systems are domain-independent, which makes it possible to allow planning activities in different application areas then integrating them into one system or sequence of actions.

Effective planning is used in all kinds of situations, from devising an effective training course to ensuring continuity when designing the Space Shuttle.


This factor mainly deals with creating schedules for temporal assignment activities. As earlier noted, there are a number of goals and constraints during the process that should be observed.

Considering the order of activities as the result of a planning system, the scheduling factor requires an individual to have knowledge of the activities to be scheduled followed by the resources required for the activities and to counteract the constraints.

Some of the common constraints are technical-based or economical-oriented. As a way of finding an optimal solution, several solutions are suggested for scheduling and the best is implemented.

Scheduling is mostly applicable in the manufacturing industry, aircraft crews, computer processes in operating systems and truck movements during transportation, but it can be successfully implemented pretty much anywhere.

Just like with planning, research innovations have also made it possible to create algorithms that are usable when creating schedules that require activities for long periods. This kind of predictive scheduling allows the assumption of a stable environment.

In short, planning and scheduling are interconnected, are created in a dynamic environment and can be used for problem solving of any kind, but each has its own unique part to play in a project as a whole.

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