Classification and Organization of Data in Scheduling Software
Author: Dinesh Adithan
In scheduling software, a shift is the basic building block of a schedule. A shift has many built-in attributes to support the classification, planning, and retrieval activities. Typical attributes are employee, customer, site, service and of course, date & time. Many of these attributes are hierarchical in nature. For example, employee belongs to a department, a site belongs to a customer, etc. Having these hierarchies allows quick and easy grouping of data for operational and reporting purposes. These are typically shown as organizational charts or folder structures, for example:
Hierarchies are supported by most scheduling software; they provide flexibility by allowing it to be as broad as possible (for example, unlimited departments, unlimited employees per department), but are typically inflexible when new layers have to be introduced. For example, if an organization wants to introduce a team layer between department and employees (employees belong to a team, team belongs to a department), this is a very hard change.
A common workaround is to use a naming convention and use it consistently; for e.g. this naming convention can be used to name departments – “dept A: team 1”, “dept A: team 2”, “dept B: team x.” This needs to be done manually and if done consistently, is effective and the trade-offs are acceptable.
A second limitation of a hierarchy is that a value always belongs to a single parent. This is strictly enforced. The way to overcome this is to create groups; for example, a supervisor group that includes staff from different departments.
At Celayix software, we are trying to push the boundaries of our code, so that we can better configure our software to meet the customers’ view of their operations. An innovation we have implemented is the new labour forecasting module to support multiple levels of event types for different customers. For example, one customer may have a wedding event type, with indoor and outdoor sub-type, and another customer might have a more complex hierarchy like:
Event | Sub-type | Sub-sub-type
Dinner | Buffet | Standing
Lunch | | Sit-down
Plated | 2 Course | 3 Course
This customizable hierarchy, along with a more sophisticated way to calculate shifts based on guest counts, leads to a powerful labour forecasting scheduling software.