Fixed Ops Magazine - 2020 Vol17 06 - 29

a point at which the employees cannot get the work

Reflecting on the example of the oil change center, you

done any faster and productivity flattens out. Again,

can see an additional challenge a manager faces when
scheduling employees. Optimizing for a given work-

diminishing returns.

load only works if you know what that workload is goNow this really gets interesting when you combine the

ing to be. For a service business, this is both difficult

two measures. Given the inverse relationship between

to anticipate and highly variable. You may be properly

the two, adjusting the staffing lower or higher will in-

staffed one hour, but not the next. This perpetual chal-

herently include some trade-offs. But there is also a

lenge is what we address in the next section.

target range in the middle, where you achieve both
productivity and customer satisfaction. This is the

Balancing the needs of customers, employees, and

sweet spot for employee scheduling.

businesses through optimum employee scheduling is
inherently difficult. But recognizing the potential ben-

This all seems rather simple in theory, but there are

efits in terms of productivity and customer satisfac-

several challenges that make workforce optimization

tion, it is also fundamental to address this challenge

difficult in practice. One of the challenges in achieving

for the health and sustainability of a business.

the targeted sweet spot is the difficulty of measuring
customer satisfaction. Many of the usual indicators aim

There is a better way.

for comprehensiveness but are slow to measure. They
lag so far behind operations that they are ineffective
as a feedback loop for proper staffing.

OPTIMIZING WITH AI
Now that we have outlined workforce scheduling success and how to measure it, let's break down how to
achieve this high standard. There are three fundamental pieces to the process: forecasting, staffing, and
scheduling. Applying the latest technology enables a
step-change improvement in each of these dimensions.
1. Forecasting
Whether they realize it or not, a manager typically
uses a forecast to drive the scheduling process. It
may be as simple as recognizing, for example, " Friday nights are busy, so I need an extra person. " But
today, with data at our fingertips, we recommend a
more comprehensive and robust process for forecasting demand.
As you increase the data you include in a forecast,
you decrease the band of uncertainty around your

An effective remedy to this challenge is to find a proxy metric that
correlates highly with customer sat-

prediction. At the most basic lev-

With the breadth and

el, a business should be looking

depth of data

month, and last year are all val-

isfaction but provides more timely
feedback. For many service busi-

at prior sales data. Last week, last
id reference points. But why not

nesses, customer wait times is a

accessible now, we can

suitable metric. A more comprehen-

provide a much more

were on the clock and even how

sive metric would also include service quality, but for most customers

reliable forecast than

time is a key deciding factor.

NOVEMBER DECEMBER 2020 || FIXED OPS MAGAZINE

ever before.

also include how many employees
busy you were? And why not add
data around your planned promotions, related online search traffic,

29



Fixed Ops Magazine - 2020 Vol17 06

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Magazine - 2020 Vol17 06

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