Easing up the planning process
Shift planning has to take into account a multitude of variables, and the situation is continuously changing. To be able to respond to the changes, managers will have to spend time.
Our solution is built to handle the varying volumes and employee-related details. Designed from scratch with modern technologies, it can fully automate the shift planning process, saving the managers time for actual field management.
Not just any optimization
Today the term “Workforce optimization” is widely used by WFM providers. Based on marketing materials, it seems this is a standard feature included in any software. Digging deeper, however, reveals that the term has many meanings. To have a working solution that brings in the benefits, what is meant by “optimization” makes all the difference.
In our opinion providing info to support planning is not optimization. Nor is theoretical optimizing in a world with no real life targets or restrictions. We think that working optimization would need to take into account at least:
- Forecasted workload both in long term and short term (15min level)
- Contracts of the employees
- The flexibility models in union agreements and contracts
- Skills of the employees
- Restrictions in law
- Restrictions of individual employees
- Changes in contracts
Once it considers all of the above and creates shifts with a click of a button, we can say that the optimization works.
Zenopt’s optimization is based on the latest academic research in the area of optimization. However, we didn’t leave it to academic research only. Nor did we use off-the-shelf solvers to provide adequate, partly optimized solutions. Instead, we have spent countless hours developing tailor-made algorithms that fit the problems of the real world.
When we consider the possible ways to organize the shifts, there are millions. In the optimum solution, the workload is met the best possible way still making sure all the possible restrictions, contracts and skills are considered right. Due to the incredible amount of options, the human mind cannot possibly find the best solution without spending days doing the iterations. Therefore it makes sense to let the computer calculate the options and find the solution that best serves the need and eliminates all the unnecessary slack. In this way, the service levels can be improved at the same time the costs are minimized. Like magic!
How do we save costs?
In fact, we are not only planning to save costs but increase service levels at the same time.
In real life, the workload is rarely stable. The need for work fluctuates based on customer flows, goods flows, special events, etc. However, it is very challenging to manually adjust shifts all the time to meet the real need. We have seen that this commonly leads to situations of overcapacity and undercapacity.
By forecasting and planning better we can reduce the situations of overcapacity and save costs. In the same way, the peaks can be foreseen, and understaffing can be reduced and service levels increased.
Workforce planning can be incredibly complex when all the elements need to be considered at the same time. It is thus understandable that manual planning has challenges to optimize everything. With the help of forecasts and algorithms, the quality of the planning can be quite easily improved. Zenopt’s WFM software is built to handle all the complexity of the workforce planning process (union agreements, employees skills, holidays) and plan the shifts automatically based on real need.
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