WFM Scheduling - Auto-Scheduler
Fourth's Auto-Scheduler is a powerful tool that can help businesses generate employee schedules efficiently and accurately, with the ability to analyse labour demand requirements by timeslot based on forecasted sales. The Auto-Scheduler generates the shifts needed to fulfil each area's labour demand, allowing businesses to avoid overstaffing or understaffing. This functionality also takes away the emotional connection of creating shifts for employees.
Fig.1 – Auto-Scheduler components
The Auto-Scheduler takes its machine learning-generated forecasted sales and items, and uses Department-specific workload rules, fixed tasks and minimum staffing levels to create the shifts required to fulfil the labour demand.
Each Department is calculated independently and shifts are created. Auto-Scheduler generates shifts needed to fulfil labour demand by Area. Managers can assign shifts to employees on job roles within the Area of the auto-scheduler-generated shift.
Each Location has its own set of metrics that are used in the labour demand generation.
- Fixed Tasks - Fixed labour demand
- Minimum Staffing Levels - Minimum required labour demand by job role
- Variable Workload Rule - Variable workload rule, increasing labour demand based on the number of sales items
Shift Generation Settings
The Auto-Scheduler has been implemented to allow for each Location to have its own set of Auto-Scheduler settings against individual Areas.
- Logged in at the required Location, go to Settings > Auto-Scheduler > Settings (left side menu)
Each Area will be listed, with the following options:
- Exclude - excludes any shift generation for the labour demand of the selected Area.
- Min Shift Length by Area - allows for the user to configure the minimum shift length for a job role within the selected Area of that Department
- Max Shift Length by Area - allows the user to configure the maximum shift length for a job role within the selected Area of that Department
- Late Shift Start Time - the Latest shift start time of a shift within the selected Area.
Overstaffing Position - when shifts are created, if there is not enough labour demand to fulfil a minimum shift length this is where overstaffing is set to occur
- Equal overstaffing (before and after the required hours)
- After overstaffing is after the required hours the shift starts when the required hours are needed
- Before overstaffing is before the required hours all required hours are at the end of the shift
Correct percentage for overstaffing - when there is labour demand that needs fulfilling, the system checks how many hours will be deployed when a shift is created. If the Correct percent for overstaffing is less than the required demand, no shift is created
- For example, if a shift had a minimum length of 4 hours, the 'Correct %' was set at 50% and only 1 hour was fulfilling labour demand, then a shift would not be created. If it was set to 25% then a shift would be created
- Always Overstaffing - if enabled, at least a shift duration of the minimum shift length will be created to always fulfil labour demand
Fig.2 – Auto Scheduling – Settings
- Go to the Scheduling tab
- Select the AutoScheduler tab on the left side and then Run Auto-Scheduler
Fig.3 - Scheduling > AutoScheduler > Run Auto-Scheduler
A pop-up will be displayed.
- Select the days of that schedule week to have shifts created for - all days will be selected by default - and then select Create Shifts
Fig.4 – Create Shifts
Auto-Scheduler will calculate and generate the shifts needed to fulfil the forecasted labour demand and assign them as open shifts. Shifts will only be generated for current and future days. Any past days will automatically be disabled from shift generation.
How are Shifts Created in Auto-Scheduler?
The Auto-Scheduler engine goes through six steps when creating shifts for each Job Role for each day. When shifts are initially created by the tool, they are assigned a shift start time, but no shift end time. This helps in the creation and fulfilment of the labour demand as the shifts that are pieced together always fulfil the initial labour demand.
The following steps are used for each labour demand fulfilment.
Step 1: Generating Open-Ended Shifts Based on Demand
- During each time interval, the labor demand for specific job roles is reviewed. By comparing the current and previous interval's demands, the difference in required staffing is determined. When demand exceeds zero, an appropriate number of shifts without predefined end times are created. Conversely, if demand falls below zero, open-ended shifts are identified and concluded
- During each time interval, we review the labour demand for specific job roles
- By comparing the current and previous interval's demands, we determine the difference in required staffing
- When demand exceeds zero, we create an appropriate number of shifts without predefined end times
- Conversely, if demand falls below zero, we identify and conclude open-ended shifts
Step 2: Enforcing Maximum Shift Length
- Shifts are ensured to adhere to the maximum allowable duration set by each Department. To achieve this, adjacent shifts may be modified into shorter durations or longer shifts may be divided into two parts
- Maximum Shift Length is 10 Hours
- A 12 Hour shift starting at 06:00 is present – (Shift A)
- The service seeks to find a shift with a start time of 08:00 with a duration of less than 8 hours (Shift B)
- If found, the start time for Shift B is modified from 08:00 to 06:00 and the start time of Shift A is moved to 08:00 to adhere to the maximum shift length
Step 3: Consolidating Short Shifts
- Shifts falling short of the minimum required duration are merged in this stage. This consolidation enables the stipulated minimum shift length to be met
Step 4: Extending Short Shifts
- Following the correct percentage of labour demand fulfilment, brief shifts are extended to accommodate additional staffing until they satisfy the minimum shift duration. Overstaffing is implemented as per the correct % for overstaffing settings
Step 5: Adjusting Shifts to Late Start Times
- If any shifts are scheduled to commence after the designated late shift start time, their start times are modified to align with this later timeframe
Step 6: Assigning Apply shift minutes before or after based on the overstaffing position.
- Can be set to before labour demand, after labour demand, or split equally before and after
Once each step is iterated by job role by area, Auto-Scheduler Shifts are created. They are assigned to an Area and can be assigned to employees who have a valid assignment in a job role which is configured to that area
How can Users Assign Shifts to Employees?
Once shifts have been generated they will be displayed in the Auto-Scheduler tab. The generated shifts are ordered by day and by area.
Users can select the shift they wish to assign to an employee. The user interface will dynamically update as follows.
- The day the shift is for will be highlighted
- The employee list is filtered and only employees that have an active assignment in the area of the open shift are displayed. Once they have assigned the shift to an employee, the filtering will dynamically update and display all employees. If the user has manually filtered to show employees by Area/Job Role then once a shift has been assigned, the filtering will return to their original selection
- If users select the day from the refinement bar then the Auto-Scheduler tab will dynamically scroll to the list of shifts that are required for that day
- If a user navigates to the cost or deployment tab, the data will be displayed for the selected day
Fig.5 – Auto Schedule- Assigning Shifts