February 10, 2010

How to Overcome the Issues with the Current Scheduling Method


What are the problems with the current scheduling method?

If you are using paper or Excel, you are almost bound to be having problems with the current scheduling method. Using Excel can take hours while if you are using paper it can almost double the time. This is a task the few employers enjoy and it is one they are only too happy to pass on to somebody else when they can. There are however a few ways of dealing with problems with your current scheduling method that will at least make thing a bit easier. The normal reasons for issues arising include the following; the wrong person is responsible for scheduling, you don’t have effective policies for shift changes, or you aren’t making use of available technology. We will look at each of these below.

Problems with scheduling method and the human factor

One of the main causes for problems with schedules is having the wrong person doing the job. This is not something that anyone can do; it involves a lot of skill and knowledge. The person in charge of scheduling should know the business inside-out and understand the demands for each shift; they should also understand computers if they are going to be using excel. This person will also need to fully understand the skill mix that will be required for each work period and be able to match this with the available staff. This person will need to be able to handle constant change and be competent enough to alter the schedule while managing the knock on effects of any change. One of the main causes of problems with scheduling method is that people make changes without making the necessary alterations elsewhere on the schedule; for example they move employee A’s shift to cover an absent employee B but forget to replace employee A in the shift they were moved from.

Problems with scheduling method and business policies

Another cause of problems is not having correct policies in regards to booking holidays and sick leave. If the person responsible for schedules does not have enough notice then it will be practically impossible to manage changes effectively. It should be company policy that except in dire emergencies that people should give at least a month’s notice for any holiday requests. It should also be policy that staff try and give at least 8 hours notice before going off sick.

Problems with scheduling method and new technologies

If you are still using paper schedules then you really aren’t doing yourself any favours; unless you only have a handful of staff on a more or less constant schedule. Making changes to a paper schedule can make things messy, and you might end up wasting many hours rewriting schedules. It is also easier to make mistakes with this old fashioned method. If you are using excel then this will be a bit easier, but it will still take a bit of time to make changes. Nowadays there are online scheduling options that are probably the easiest and most cost effective way of dealing with the problem.