If you’re managing a large organization, you may have heard about a technology known as a “WorkForce Scheduler with Optimization”. This software package is extremely powerful - especially to those companies that have a lot of locations. It has the ability to streamline the entire schedule generation process - reducing time and money spent on scheduling - as well as limit over-scheduling employees and ensuring a company-wide standard.
However, despite its potential to save companies a huge amount of money in the scheduling process, the software package doesn’t come without its complications. Getting the exact configuration for your organization and having the right maintenance and feedback systems in place are absolutely crucial to ensuring the right end result.
If you’re considering adding a WorkForce Scheduler with Optimization at your organization, we wanted to share with you an overview of what to expect, as well as some learning's we have from working with companies to ensure successful implementations.
What exactly is a WorkForce Scheduler with Optimization?
A WorkForce Scheduler with Optimization (WFSO) is a package that allows for complex forecasting making the automation of schedule generation possible. Especially for volume driven companies.
How does it work?
Forecast your volume
1. Setup a custom designed forecast map, identifying the organizational structure as well as the different categories you want to forecast for.
- This forecast map will identify the departments (bakery) that link to departments on in your organizational structure.
- Below these items you can setup items that you want to forecast for (cakes).
- For each of these items you can select drivers. Drivers identify the actual data (items, sales, deliveries). This data is stored in the system in 15 minute segment.
2. Setup your forecasting rules, these identify your forecasting methods (algorithms) and weeks of data to compare across the years of data to generate your forecast.
Forecast your labor
1. Setup Labor Standards
- Labor Standard is a portion of a task (Bake Cake, Ice Cake). This piece identifies how the portion of a task relates to the volume, and how the time is spread. I.E. forecasted to sell 10 cakes, to ice 1 cake takes 10 minutes. You have an overall 100 minutes of icing cakes.
2. Setup Tasks
- Tasks are the grouping of an overall task, all the standards that complete 1 task (overall baking of a cake).
3. Setup Task Groups
- Task Groups are the groups of tasks that correlate to specific jobs (Baker).
Generate a schedule
1. Create schedule coverage requirements, meal rules, shift min and max requirements, associate availability and associate preferences. Then the system will automatically generate an optimized schedule.
If you set this all up correctly, your organization will save a ton of time, money, and headaches trying to get the scheduling mix correct. Organizations that are successful in setup and implementation see a big and immediate boost to their bottom line, making the system and process an extremely wise investment.
Things to prepare for with WFSO
Double dipping on labor generation
When it comes to jobs that perform similar functions but are distinctly different, there isn’t a really good way to ensure you aren’t double dipping on your labor generation. For example, if I have a Lead Baker whose job is to supervise and bake, and a Baker whose sole job is to bake, and there is always one of these Lead Bakers on duty. Then you will essentially be ballooning your labor by 1 person, because the system will generate the correct amount of bakers to handle the baking load. The only way to handle this scenario is have that Lead Baker, be scheduled as a Baker. Or to create a custom solution that reduces the Baker jobs labor by 1, but the solution is extremely limited.
Because setting the system up is a complex process, the troubleshooting in the case of errors or configurations is equally challenging. The organization must ensure that it has systems in place that allow for them to make changes and solve problems when the software is implemented.
Being too optimistic
Many organizations can be too optimistic in their forecasts of productivity by employees. Being too stringent on employee counts can have a negative impact on your product, and customer service. Ensure that there are feedback mechanisms in place for front line employees to report that the scheduling mix is affecting their ability to create quality products or provide quality service.
The overall ramifications of the WFSO package are huge - especially for large companies with lots of locations. It allows for the streamlining of schedule generation, reducing time and money spent on scheduling. It also ensures a company-wide standard, which limits over-scheduling. This is a double-edged sword though, while it’s positive potential is huge, so is it’s negative potential. The configuration is crucial to getting the right end result. However, if you make sure your organization is prepared to handle all of the potential issues, you could see an immediate boost to your bottom-line.