[clug-talk] Labor Scheduling

Mark Carlson carlsonmark at gmail.com
Thu May 25 12:29:54 PDT 2006

On 5/25/06, Jesse Kline <jesse at kline.ca> wrote:
> While I have a number of requirements for a scheduling solution, one of our big
> problems is scheduling relief workers. We currently have 13 departments which
> are scheduled manually by the department heads, there is also a lack of
> communication between the departments. The idea is to centralize scheduling to
> reduce the work load for the coordinators and schedule more efficiently. What I
> need the system to do is automatically come up with the best fit for relief
> workers when a staff member calls in sick or takes a vacation. The relief worker
> would have to be matched up based on three variables, availability, competencies
> of the relief worker and needs of the client, as well as location in the city.
> The solution would also need to have strong reporting features so that we can
> find inefficiencies in our scheduling process. I am very interested in a web
> based solution because the system would need to be available 24 hours a day, it
> would also be nice to give staff the ability to update their availability from
> off-site.
> As you can see, I'm looking for something much more complicated than a gannt
> chart. I may be able to use project management software, but I would need to
> setup something quite complex, and I'm not even sure if this is the right tool
> for the job.

That is a heavy set of demands... In my limited experience I have not
seen a silver bullet for that sort of problem.  I've seen similar
things done with MS Access with a bit of sweat and a nice front-end
(no remote usage was in the policy though.)
It ended up being a bad idea to use Access, as the database would get
corrupted on a semi-regular basis, it wasn't fast enough, etc.

I can't really think of any more ideas, but here are some things you could try:
- Phone up (or visit) some management consultants and ask if they'll
do X hours of free work for charity (it was for an NPO, right? I
forgot already.)  5, 10, 20, 50 hours are reasonable numbers to ask
for, but only choose one at first, you'll probably be more likely to
get help that way.  Mention that you are looking for advice on
software (2-5 hours of their time should be good enough for that.)
Find out a way it will be worth it to them (visibility, tax writeoff?,
etc.) and it shouldn't be too hard to get some advice.

... Actually, thats the only one I thought of that was any good.



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