Shift Scheduling, Moving Beyond Rostering 101
Author: Simon Arazi
If you “Google” shift scheduling vendors more than 14,000,000 entries appear. Let’s say that only 0.1% of the entries reflect a distinct shift scheduling vendor – we end up with 14,000 different vendors. You can also buy a shift scheduling software off the shelf, in the same way you might buy a fax machine (see below).
So what is the justification for using enterprise software, with costly implementation and support instead of an out-of-the-box package?
Well, it is true that many shift scheduling software vendors can simply schedule who works when, some of them even provide scheduling optimization (not those on the picture above obviously). This is all rostering 101 – very basic shift scheduling, but absolutely not sufficient. In many businesses it is not enough to know only who works when, other essentials to factor into the schedule are: who does what within the shift, and who is allocated to what position in what event or activity. Additionally, many companies need to assign who creates what tasks along the shift. All this functionality is beyond Rostering 101 capabilities; this is in fact an enhanced business concept that is part of the Enterprise Wide Scheduling approach – meaning covering ALL scheduling needs of an enterprise.
Want an example? Imagine a police agency, it obviously operates 24 x 7, and the police officers work in individual shifts. Now imagine that there is a rock festival planned and this agency is responsible for the security arrangement for this rock festival, and there is a need to staff many positions including two commanders that will work in rotation and provide 24 x 7 coverage for the festival, as well as a media coordinator, drug investigation teams, traffic coordinators for the hours before and after the festival, hidden patrol teams and so on. So it is not enough to say who works when (rostering 101) but it is important to allocate police officers to all these different positions within the shift, as this is the only way to make sure that the demand is covered.
While many vendors provide Rostering 101, very few can offer the ability to define who does what within the shift. In other words Enterprise Wide Scheduling is not so trivial.
In the next blog posts I will describe the scheduling needs in a variety of industries from the angle of the Enterprise Wide Scheduling approach.