Category Archives: Scheduling

Scheduling Consecutive Days Off

Scheduling Consecutive Days Off

A practical problem encountered in man: service  organizations is setting schedules so that employees can have two consecutive day – off even though the operation is open seven days a  week. The importance of the problem sterns  from the fact that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that overtime be paid for an} hour worked (by hourly workers) in excess of 40 hour- per week. Obviously. if  L) consecutive  pays off can’t be scheduled each week for each employee. the likelihood of unnecessary overtime is quite high. In addition, most people probably prefer two consecutive   days off per week. The following heuristic procedure was modified from that dew loped by James Browne and Rain Tibrewala to deal with this problem.

Objective. Find the schedule that minimizes the number of five-day  workers with  consecutive days off. subject to the demands of the daily staffing schedule and  assuming that the workers have no preference for which days they get off. Procedure. Starting with the total number of workers required for each d  of the week, create a schedule by adding one worker at a time. This is a to-step procedure:

Step 1 Circle the lowest pair of consecutive day – off. The lowest pair is the one where the highest number in the pair is equal to or lower than the highest number in any other pair. This ensures that the days with the highest requirements are covered by staff. I Monday and Sunday m~y be chosen even though they are at opposite ends of the array of day  In case of ties choose the days-off pair with the lowest requirement on an adjacent day. This day may be before or after the pair. If a tie still remains. choose the first of the available tied pairs. (Do not bother using further tie-breaking rules. such as second lowest adjacent Davis.)

Step 2 Subtract 1 from each of the remaining . the days nor circled I. This indicates that one less worker is required on these days. since the first worker  just been assigned to them.

 Step 3 The two steps are repeated for the second worker

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AUTOMATED SCHEDULING FOR SERVICE WORKERS

AUTOMATED  SCHEDULING FOR SERVICE WORKERS

Kronos, lnc., located in Waltham, Massachusetts, provides a fully automated Workforce Management System that consists of the following three major modules: (a) Business Forecaster, (b) WorkForce Planner, and (c) Smart Scheduler. The Business Forecaster module uses historical data from POS systems, traffic counters, and other source  to develop a forecast of future sales. The system is sufficiently flexible to allow the service manager to determine which variables are to be forecasted and the amount of historical data to use. The system can provide projections on a daily basis, as well as in hour, half-hour, and 15-minute intervals. Combining the sales projections from the Business  Forecaster module with previously determined staffing guidelines and constraints, the Workforce Planner module develops worker staffing requirements that will meet the forecasted demand efficiently in terms of minimizing labor costs and effectively with respect to meeting established levels of customer service. These staffing requirements can be provided in the same time intervals as the forecast. Kronos considers Smart Scheduler to be the heart or' "engine" that drives their overall system. The staff find requirements generated by the WorkForce Elaine module  combined with general work rules and specific constraints for individual employees are the inputs to this module. The output of the Smart Scheduler module is a detailed work schedule for the next forecast period, matching specific employees with specific shift assignments.

To solve the problem. a monthly demand forecast is first made by product for each function. This demand forecast for each product is then divided by the production rate \ PIH) for those functions that the product requires. The result is the number of labor hour [HI std) 1 that are required to complete each function for that product. The labor hours are  then converted into workers required per function. These figures are then tabled. summed.and adjusted by an absence and vacation factor to give planned hours, which are then divided by the number of hours in the workday to give us the number of workers required. TI1is results in the daily staff hours required (see Exhibit 12.10), which becomes the basis for a departmental staffing plan that lists the workers required, workers available. variance.
and managerial action in light of variance. (See Exhibit 12.11.) In addition to their Lise in day-to-day planning. the hours required and the staffing plan provide information for scheduling individual workers. controlling operations. comparing capacity utilization other branches. and starting up new branches.

The use of Technology in Scheduling

The use of Technology in Scheduling

As in most facets of business, information technology has had a significant impact on the ability of the manager to schedule workers. Early computer programs for scheduling workers were often cumbersome to use and also very limited in their applications. However, the advent of faster and more powerful computers coupled with newer software programs has  resulted in worker scheduling programs that are both significantly more user friendly and,at the same time, more flexible in their applications. The use of .these automated scheduling programs has several advantages. First, it  significantly reduces the amount of time a 'manager has to devote to developing a weekly work schedule, Previously, when manually scheduling workers, it was not uncommon for a manager in a complex service environment to devote entire eight-hour day every week to developing a worker schedule for the following week. With an automated scheduling system, managers are no longer required to commit such a large amount of time to scheduling,  allowing them more time to devote to actually managing the operation. This results. in a more eff   actively managed business. In addition, these software programs typically contain highly sophisticated  mathematical formulas designed to minimize labor hours, subject to the constraints and conditions i identified earlier in this chapter (such as the minimum number of hours per shift). Worker productivity is therefore also increased. Thus, by using an automated scheduling system, a more efficient worker schedule can be generated in only a fraction of the time previously  required with a manu a!"procedure. ,Many of the automated systems available today are fully integrated systems that consist of several modules. Kronos, Inc .. in Waltham, Massachusetts, one of the leading producers of automated workforce scheduling systems, offers a fully integrated service worker scheduling system, as described in the accompanying OM in Practice on Automated Scheduling for Service Workers

Examples of Scheduling in Services

As stated previously, the scheduling of service workers can be divided into two broad categories "back-of-the-house" operations (where workers do not come into contact with customers) and "front-of-the-house" operations (where workers come into direct contact with the customers). Both types of service scheduling situations are presented here. The staffing requirements for the bank are an example of a back-of-the-house operation, while nurse staffing and scheduling are obviously a front-of-the-house operation.

Setting Staffing Levels in Banks

This example illustrates how central clearinghouses  and back-office operations of large banks establish staffing plans. Basically, management wants to develop a staffing plan that (a) requires the least number of workers to accomplish  the daily workload and (b) minimizes the variance between actual output and planned output.In structuring the problem, bank management defines inputs (checks, statements, investment documents, and so forth) as products, which are routed through different processes or junctions (receiving, sorting, encoding, and so forth

Converting Worker Requirements into Daily Work Schedules

Converting Worker Requirements into Daily Work Schedules

The next step in
the scheduling process is the conversion of  order requirement for each time interval into a daily work or shift schedule, The basic goal here is to schedule a sufficient number of workers in a given time period to meet the expected demand at the target service level. However, there are usually add.iional factor, that also need to be included. such as (a) the minimum length of a shift that might be pre-scribed by a union contract (for example. when workers are called into UPSare guaranteed by their union contract a minimum of three hours’ work). (b) the max annum shift length permitted b~ state or local labor laws, and (e) the company'< policies about rest and meal breaks. These factors can significantly affect how efficiently the organization can meet the target service level. These minimum shift  constraints often result in a worker schedule .here the total number of labor hours needed to meet the minimum shift   than the actual number of labor hours required to satisfy customer demand,  In developing these schedules. many organization: use part-time rather than full-time workers to effectively meet cut  while simultaneously controlling co, L. Since part-time workers typically, are paid le-. and also now) be entitled to fewer tour even nOI fringe benefits, the average house co, t of  worker i-, lower than th.,t of the fulltime  order. Part-time  orders In be used ~ meet demand at peak periods (such a, meal times in restaurants) or during end  order-, would prefer not to work.

Converting Customer Demand into Worker Requirements

Converting Customer Demand into Worker Requirements

Worker requirements·
in service operations can be divided into two major categories: front-of-the-house and backof the-house. Front-of-the-house workers are defined as those who have direct contact with the customer. Examples would include a teller at a bank, a cashier at a discount department store. or the check-in personnel at an airline counter. Back-of-the-house workers are those workers who do not interact directly with the customers. Examples here would include a cook in a restaurant and a baggage handler for an airline. (The scheduling of back-of-the-house workers is usually very similar to scheduling workers in a manufacturing environment.) A necessary element in the conversion of customer demand into front-of-the-house worker requirements is the establishment of a customer-service level. For example, many restaurants offer express lunches within a specified time period. Another example of a specified level of service is at Putnam Investments in Andover, Massachusetts, where Liam McMakin states that Putnam's established service level at its call centers is that "93 percent of all calls should be answered in 20 seconds or less."? Knowing the average number of customers who require service in a given period of time and the average length of time it takes to provide service to each customer, a manager can determine how many workers to schedule for that time period in order to provide the desired level of service. Queuing theory. which was presented in the previous chapter, is a mathematically organized approach for establishing the relationship among the three following variables: (,I) customer demand (for example. customers per hour); (b) available capacity, expressed in the number of workers on duty and the average time to service a customer: and (c) average customer waiting time. To facilitate this process of converting customer demand into a  specific number of  workers. a service organization often will develop a labor requirements table. This table the manager h many workers are needed for different levels of demand. For some companies, these table also will indicate where these workers should be assigned. With this.

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type of table, the service manager only has to look up the forecasted demand in a given time period to determine how man) workers to ~.nedule and where they should be assigned. An example of a labor requirement. table for a fast-food restaurant is shown in Exhibit 12.9.