Planning for services operations is difficult for a variety of reasons. Service operations produce intangible outputs that cannot be ordinarily inventoried. Quality of services is most often measured subjectively. Service operations involve close customer contact and short lead times for demands of service. These factors in combination with the level of diversity and variability involved in service operations make service planning very difficult.
Manufacturing planning on the other hand involves tangible outputs which can be measured against readily available metrics. This makes manufacturing planning a less difficult task then services planning.
While it is difficult, service planning can be done and there are some advantages to service planning versus manufacturing planning. One advantage is the labor flexibility associated with services. Service operations require labor to handle varied service requests for example bank tellers or ticket agents. The ability of labor to perform varied tasks within a service operation makes it somewhat easier for operation’s management to plan labor for the service operation.
Planning for services also presents disadvantages. Due to the intangible nature of services disadvantages present themselves when trying to implement planning for services operations. One disadvantage is that in the service industry demand is difficult to predict. In service operations demand is often varied due to the nature of the service, for example the immediate needs of those requiring emergency services versus those who want immediate service at a fast food restaurant (Stevenson, 2009 p.629).
Both manufacturing and service operations planning present their own set of advantages and disadvantages, but both are required if a business is planning to sell/offer a product or service. Being able to plan for and meet potential demand is a primary factor in the success of any a business whether manufacturing or service oriented.