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Smart rostering: a powerful toolkit for roster generation
CSIRO has developed a suite of software modules packaged as a Staff Rostering Toolkit. CSIRO specialists use the Toolkit to customise roster generation for organisations with over 100 staff to meet their specific needs and work rules.
8 July 2011 | Updated 29 August 2012
How do service organisations make the best use of staff skills? Intelligent automated rostering using the Staff Rostering Toolkit. It is the fairest, most effective and most cost-efficient way to answer to questions like these on a daily basis.
Staff Rostering Toolkit
The Staff Rostering Toolkit incorporates state-of-the-art methods for satisfying industrial rules and roster optimisation. As a whole, the toolkit allows for true Intelligent Automated Rostering.
The user-specific Rostering Toolkit classifies the rostering problems faced by a business according to its operational characteristics. It is equipped with models and algorithms that are integrated together for the solution of several distinct classes of rostering problem.
Typical information inputs requires for the rostering process include:
CSIRO can work with you to develop an automated roster system that’s fair, effective and cost-efficient
- the workload requirements for all personnel skill types (a demand estimation component is included that allows the workload to be forecast from historical data),
- employee profiles, including leave requests,
- personal preferences,
- customised rostering rules, and
- work-rules (such as industrial awards and union rules).
The Staff Rostering Toolkit is used to develop lines of work, off-days and leave for all personnel over a roster-planning horizon.
This is done in such a way as to optimise workload coverage at minimum cost with maximum fairness - concerted effort is made during rostering to ensure equitable distribution of overtime, 'bad shifts', and so on.
The roster will adhere to the work-rules (such as industrial workplace regulations) that are provided as input. The rule-base module of the Staff Rostering Toolkit is capable of handling all of the complex rules present in today's workplaces.
Benefits of Intelligent Automated Rostering
The benefits of using an automated rostering system are:
- Fairness and equity for all staff: The rostering engines minimise the violation of rules which characterise fair and equitable rosters as well as allowing staff preferences to be entered and traded off against other rostering criteria.
- Optimised deployment of staff to ensure good customer service levels while containing payroll costs: by estimating expected workload demand and closely matching rosters to this demand, the roster tools enable an organisation to get the right staff, at the right time and the right place to meet service requirements.
- Corporate memory and intellectual capital in the area of rostering: The system provides a means of capturing rules and preferences that go into creating good rosters. This type of knowledge is often considered part of the "black art" of rostering and known intuitively by staff with a lot of practical experience in rostering. The rostering toolkit allows organisations to capture some of this knowledge and thus to build up their intellectual capital and corporate memory in this area.
- Standardisation of procedures: By formalising and automating some of the roster process, greater consistency in rostering practice across an organisation can be achieved.
- Automation of mundane tasks: creating rosters is a complex and time consuming task. The roster engines in the toolkit allow significant time savings by producing a new roster for each planning period that takes all of the organisational requirements into account. The rostering staff can then fine tune this roster to account for any subtle human factors not captured by the system and spend more of their time on more strategic human resource planning and other tasks.
- Human input and interaction over the system: The rostering engines in the toolkit cater for individual staff preferences so that each staff member can have some input into the rosters created for them. The roster officer can interactively modify rules and preferences in order to investigate alternative rosters.
- Better training and support of rostering staff: Training new rostering staff is a difficult task for most organisation and it can take many months or even years for a new roster officer to reach the point where they can generate rosters of the same high quality as the previous person they replaced. The rostering toolkit ensures that any new rostering person can be productive from the first day by automatically generating rosters that meet the organisational needs and only need fine tuning.
- Coping with complexity: Rostering is a complex business. It is virtually impossible for a person to consider all of the possibilities and to create optimal rosters which match all of the business rules and objectives. The use of state-of-the-art mathematical algorithms allows the rostering toolkit to take a global view of the problem in order to create the best solution out of the myriad of possibilities.
- Adherence to industrial rules: Many organisations need to deal with complex industrial rules governing rosters. Even just checking whether a particular roster satisfies all of these rules can be a time consuming and challenging task. The rule base contained in the rostering toolkit can instantly check any roster for violations and ensures that the roster generators produce rosters in agreement with these rules. Best of all, the rule base is infinitely flexible allowing rules to be added and modified to exactly match an organisation's needs.
Learn more about CSIRO's work in optimising services at Top Team for Service Innovation.