Haley Bucelewicz | 08.07.19

This is part two of a five-part series on Service Chain Optimization. For more context, you can read the first post on forecasting and planning here.

In case you missed the last post, ClickSoftware coined the term service chain optimization to define the decision-making process for ensuring an efficient day of service. The service chain encompasses the full lifecycle of service delivery, including:

Last time we discussed the importance of forecasting and planning to ensure minimal disruptions and better control on the day of service. In this post we’ll discuss the second half of the planning stage: shift planning and management, where employees are actually allocated to meet demand.

What is Shift Planning and Management?

Any company that has more than a single working shift for its workforce needs shift planning and management. Most field service organizations run on multiple shifts per day.

Technically shift planning and shift management mean different things, though they go hand in hand. Shift planning ensures the right field service personnel are working the right shifts based on forecasted demand, skills, and availability. Shift management enables timely and accurate reporting on planned working shifts. Because the two are so connected, we’ll be using the terms interchangeably or in concert.

In simplest terms, shift planning and management means ensuring field service personnel are in the right shifts, and doing the right things in those shifts. Managers and shift planners should have accurate and timely info about field employees and ensure they’re allocated to the right tasks.

With an already overwhelming number of things to keep track of, many service businesses face the challenge of optimizing the allocation of personnel to shifts. Not to mention, shift plans are constantly changing due to vacations and sickness. However, there’s always work to do in the service industry, and it’s crucial to keep track of available employees and their skills so you know you can meet customer expectations. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself scrambling to meet demand.

How does Shift Planning and Management Work?

First and foremost, shift planners must determine how many employees need to be on shift during the week, keeping in mind their availability, skills, and location. Shift planning also requires timely and accurate reporting of several details about daily and weekly shifts, tasks, assignments, and personnel. This includes tracking:

  • Number of actual working hours
  • Employee timesheets
  • The details of the activities performed during operations
  • Technician location and utilization
  • Overtime utilization

The person responsible for shift planning should also ensure that each worker has a clear idea of what’s expected of them, such as responsibilities and their time schedule for reporting to work. This avoids misunderstandings with field employees about their availability and ensures that the right person will deliver on the customer’s request the first time. 

Above all, timeliness and precision are key in shift management. Otherwise decisions made may conflict with actual availability of the workforce.

Shift Planning and Management with ClickSoftware

ClickSoftware’s shift management capabilities allow organizations to optimize planning automatically (or assisted) to ensure the right personnel are working the right shifts. Click’s solution is complete and end-to-end, integrating forecasting, planning, scheduling, and a broad array of enterprise tools in a single solution. Because of this, the solution intelligently optimizes shift planning based on forecasted demand, skills, availability, tenure, and organizational policies. Likewise, any changes to shifts or worker availability are reflected in the schedule in real time, enabling greater visibility into operations.

By automating (or even semi-automating) this process, the solution takes care of routine planning activities, allowing planners to focus on areas requiring attention due to lack of resources, requests for shift changes, and peaking demands.

The benefits of Click’s shift management capabilities include:

  • Improved accuracy and efficiency of auditing labor while increasing speed of payroll
  • Greater customer responsiveness and productivity due to schedule optimization – all with minimal disruption to operational activities
  • The ability to quickly identify field service professionals who can take overtime shifts, fill in for other workers, or handle additional time before becoming fatigued
  • Company policies are enforced through pre-configured workflows, ensuring scalability of the process and, in turn, the organization

To learn about the other links in the service chain, keep an eye out on the ClickSoftware blog