Scheduling Insights: The Lifecycle of a Labor Schedule

Dan Bursik
Vice President of Product Management

In this edition of Scheduling Insights, we will be building on our discussion of scheduling terms.

We have outlined the process as a series of steps, as follows:

Forecasting
The use of history and other insights to predict key metrics (like sales) and workload volume drivers (like cases to stock, items to scan, cash transactions to tender, pounds and packages of deli products to serve, etc.)

Demand Planning
The use of labor standards applied to those workload volumes to calculate “raw” or “engineered” work content time.

Staff Planning
The translation of the “engineered time” into scheduling requirements including the timing of the tasks or activities by day of the week and time of day, and the modification of the raw requirements to include all the time needed with allowances, service requirements, minimum staffing requirements and other staffing parameters considered in preparation for effective scheduling.

Scheduling
The matching of specific resources (availability, skills, other qualifications) to the needs called for in your staffing plan.

Those are the major steps leading to the creation of a schedule. Many systems see this as the entirety of the process. Later in this series we will discuss that we see and provide functionality for additional steps, most specifically in working the schedule successfully through the week in progress (“Operations Management”) and post-scheduling analysis so that we create a learning loop for continuous improvement in the optimization of user skills and system management of the process for future weeks.

The Lifecycle of a Labor Schedule

In addition to these process steps, it is also helpful to think of the various states a schedule may go thorough because the whole idea of effective scheduling analysis is designed to minimize the variation you experience in each of these iterations. Here is a perspective on what those iterations might be, and I will use an example of an organization with centralized schedule writers supporting the stores in the creation of their schedules. Organizations not using central schedulers would remove the steps performed by the central scheduling team.

  1. System Generated: The system generated forecasts, requirements and initial schedules
  2. Centrally Reviewed: The central scheduler reviewed and edited forecasts
  3. Store Reviewed: The stores reviewed and edited forecasts (usually this review involves both department and store management)
  4. Published: The schedule is published at the posting deadline defined as company policy. This is when employees see their schedules and work assignments
  5. Week in Progress Revised: Until the week ends various changes may be made. Shifts may get swapped, changed, deleted or new shifts may be added
  6. Final schedule as Worked: This is recorded through the actual punches of employees in the Time and Attendance system

Understanding these iterations of a schedule’s lifecycle is helpful to understand the work needed at each step, the system functionality required and how to analyze the effectiveness of the entire process from the development of the forecast estimate of what will happen and what resources will be needed to the point of knowing what did happen and what resources were really earned (required) by the volumes achieved.

We will reflect of different types of scheduling in our next installment.

In his series, Scheduling Insights, Dan Bursik provides insights and strategies around effective retail labor scheduling, addressing a diverse array of challenges and topics. To read the previous edition, click here. To search for all editions of Scheduling Insights, click here.