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December 30, 2011 10:54 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend some software that will automagically create a decent work schedule?

I just got promoted at my job and among my duties will be creating a work schedule. It's a small department of only 5 employees.

As of right now, theres nothing wrong with our current schedule, in fact we have basically all worked the same set of hours for months, and some of use have worked the same set of hours for years. I think it would be a good idea if we could change it from week to week to get people out of their ruts. In general, our department is pretty informal when it comes to the schedule. There's only five of us and we're pretty close so trades/asking for time off is never a big deal, but I know certain people are looking for a chance to work different hours, and I'd like to accommodate them.

Some requirements:
-Hopefully its free, but if it's not, it better have a million options so I can pitch it's usefulness to my superiors.
-It doesn't have to be web based, but I have a Windows machine so I can't use Mac or Linux software.
-The software should be able to take into account that my workplace has different operating hours on different days
-It should be able to restrict the number of hours a person can be scheduled for (i.e. we can't work over X number of hours per day, and X per week)
-I should be able to specify the number of people who need to be on duty at a time (sometimes it's 1 sometimes is 2, this is something I could probably figure out manually)

I've done some googling but all the software I see looks either amatuerish or just looks like a scam. Anyone with first hand experience with software like this would be great.

If all else fails, I'll probably just end up writing it all out on a whiteboard or something.
posted by d1rge to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I created an Excel template that had specific formulas that kept track of constraints, but otherwise was a manual process. For example, I'd have the days of the week in columns and the employees in double rows, one for their start and end time and one for the amount of hours worked in that shift. A separate table or sheet would keep track of how many hours each person worked per week. Additionally I also had a vertical tally of the number of total hours worked each day, including overlapping hours, and matched that up against employee hours scheduled. If you had a day when you needed two employees to work a certain shift, just double the number of hours for that particular time period.

Start by entering people's time in hours to satisfy the daily requirements, then adjust depending on the total weekly hours worked for each employee. Since you only have 5 employees, anything more seems like it'd be overkill.

(But then again, I enjoy messing with Excel templates.)

I'd also make sure to run the idea of a variable schedule by the employees first, explicitly. Some people enjoy having a set schedule so they can schedule the rest of their lives better. No point creating work for yourself if it's going to lower morale and be met with resistance/resentment to boot, right?
posted by Phire at 11:15 PM on December 30, 2011


I used to do scheduling but did it manually.

I do agree with Phire about checking with employees about a variable schedule. I volunteered for the unpopular shifts just so my schedule would be more consistent.
posted by maurreen at 12:31 AM on December 31, 2011


Haven't tried it, but came across this webapp recently: Nimble Schedule. It's not free, but there is a free trial.
posted by heliostatic at 1:22 AM on December 31, 2011


Do people want to change? Do they have childcare or family schedules that assume certain hours?
posted by k8t at 1:45 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're techy, you can implement and solve your own constraint programming problems with the free ZIB optimisation suite. Not friendly, and probably overkill for scheduling five people. Your problem honestly has a few red flags over it for me as described - if all 5 of you are on board with the idea if getting out of a rut then great. Beware the new boss mentality if not...
posted by cromagnon at 4:45 AM on December 31, 2011


My former roommate could not solve this problem but through the previously mentioned spreadsheet with a bunch of macros. Given that he spent literally thousands of hours on this over the years, he spent a lot of time looking for an automated solution.
posted by wierdo at 9:47 AM on December 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


As of right now, theres nothing wrong with our current schedule, in fact we have basically all worked the same set of hours for months, and some of use have worked the same set of hours for years. I think it would be a good idea if we could change it from week to week to get people out of their ruts.

I think you're the new manager and you're trying to stamp your style on your department. My advice is to proceed with extreme caution.

If I were you, I would devolve the scheduling task to your team. Let those who have expressed a desire to work different hours come to you with proposals they've already negotiated with other team members. The default position should be that nobody is forced to change their working hours. Because if you just arbitrarily break up a set of arrangements that have been working well for months, and impose the New Broom's New Order by fiat, you're quite likely to find that "getting people out of their ruts" is just code for "fucking everything up for no good reason".
posted by flabdablet at 5:49 AM on January 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


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