With TimeEdit’s experience assisting many customers with implementing some level of automation to their scheduling process, important lessons have been collectively learned. In reviewing these lessons with our customers, we’ve identified the following five recurring key points on how to ensure a successful implementation.
1. Put effort into cleansing your data
A major part of auto scheduling is ensuring the system understands what you want it to do for you. This often means that your existing data needs some rework, or restructuring for consistency to fit the ‘language’ an automatic system can understand. This process, while only needed to be done once, is often underestimated in its complexity and time it takes. Automated processes can not process ambiguity. So put time and effort into this initial step: the data that goes into the system for auto scheduling will dictate the movements of sometimes thousands of people. It needs to be done properly.
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel
The second half of this process is also to create and set up the new rules and priorities to govern the automatic scheduling. While those rules can’t look exactly the same as how it was done manually, it is still recommended that you let your experience with manual scheduling guide you for the initial setup. Working wheels don’t need to be reinvented after all.
3. Manage expectations
When considering the broad definition of automatic scheduling, it’s important to make sure to define exactly what automatic scheduling means for your organisation. This is key to establishing clear and achievable expectations and making sure everyone works towards the same goal.
This also applies to the preparations: creating the framework and guidelines for automatic scheduling. Some organisations may have long-standing scheduling ‘traditions’ which, if not specifically considered while configuring, automatic scheduling won’t respect. In such cases it is important to manage expectations on how a final schedule could look, or handle it by addressing the scenario during configuration.
4. Communication is key!
Moving from manual to automatic scheduling will often mean changes, not only for the schedulers but also for the rest of the organisation, whether directly or indirectly. It is therefore important to provide regular communication and information on the changes as well as ensure buy-in from not just the schedulers but all stakeholders across the whole organisation, including management. Obtaining input from stakeholders is especially important during the preparation work to make certain all angles are considered.
Finally, acknowledge that automatic scheduling means big changes: it is highly recommended to clearly communicate why this change is happening. Is it to relieve the schedulers workloads or improve resource efficiency? Transparency will provide stakeholders with a clear purpose and goal for the change and then also be able to help reach that specific goal.
5. In data we trust
To fully realise the time-saving benefits of automatic scheduling, it is imperative to ensure that at the end of the day schedulers can really trust the quality of the data as well as the final result of automatic scheduling. If that isn’t the case, you can end up in a situation with schedulers feeling the need to manually quality assure the results, which defeats the purpose of doing it automatically to begin with.
Emphasise the importance of thorough preparation and precise implementation for the project, where trust towards the new process will be built, nurtured and ultimately proven and you will achieve success.