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OM in the News: Employee Scheduling with Commercial Software

September 24, 2013
Dayforce software gives users an efficiency score for their scheduling

Dayforce software gives users an efficiency score for their scheduling

Say you own a thriving bakery that’s open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and you have 9 full-time employees and 11 part-timers. The shop is busiest between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and then again from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. How many people do you need on the noon to 6 p.m. shift?  This common problem is one we discuss in both Chapter 15 (Short-Term Scheduling) and Module B (Linear Programming). Behind the scenes are scores of software programs available to help businesses manage their scheduling conundrums, reports The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 16, 2013).

The biggest name in the “workforce management” software business, Kronos Inc., offers Workforce Ready, which allows small employers to start out with a single application, such as basic scheduling, and then add extra features, from calculating accrued time off to administering payroll. Kronos’s Workforce Central lets larger employers oversee a complex multistate or global employee base.

Because they can monitor workers’ hours better than traditional methods, the programs also allow employers to keep closer track of employees—reducing overtime, for instance, and syncing up with electronic time clocks to monitor tardiness and break times. And scheduling programs offer the ability to integrate with payroll software to tally workers’ paychecks, which helps reduce the simple mathematical errors that can plague manual scheduling and payroll processes.

There are benefits for workers as well. Ceridian’s Dayforce allows employees to view their schedules online, swap shifts with co-workers and record their availability. Guitar Center Inc., a music-instrument retailer with around 240 locations, began using Dayforce in 2010 after years of managing schedules with Excel spreadsheets. “Now we load customer traffic and transactions in 15-minute intervals into Dayforce, and it generates labor-demand curves that let each store know how many people they should staff for every 15 minutes,” says a Guitar Center exec.

Classroom discussion questions:

1. How can linear programming be used to solve scheduling problems?

2. Why is commercial software so useful?

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 4, 2013 8:34 am

    Great article! I have been doing a lot of research lately in that field of online employee scheduling, and I like a feature that allows employees to apply to open shifts, among the usual shift-planning tools. I am saving a lot of time that way, and my employees feel included in making the schedule. I think that is also a valuable question: How does this feature of asking people to be an active part of something (that is usually solely the bosses job) make them feel? Does it improve the company culture?

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