Is there a good software package for generating employee schedules?
January 6, 2004 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Is there a good software package for generating employee schedules? [more inside.]

Most of places I've worked have employed someone who has to schedule a bunch of employees to come in on certain days and do specific sorts of work. The poor scheduler always drowns in a sea of complicated, contradictory data: Mary is really good with foreign clients (except for Italians), but she prefers not to work Mondays and the first Wednesday of every month; Charlie hates to travel, but he's willing to work weekends; Kelly won't work overtime; Ed would rather not work overtime, but he will if it's really needed; etc.

It's pretty much impossible for one human to keep all of this stuff in mind, so if you happen to be Kelly, Ed, Charlie or Mary, you're probably going to get bad schedules much of the time. There probably IS a way to work out a schedule in which, most of the time, people who don't like to work weekends don't have to, but figuring that schedule out is really really hard.

This seems to me like a better job for a computer than a human. Is there any program that will allow you to input info about client needs, employee requests, etc. -- and then will spit out the best possible schedule?
posted by grumblebee to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
I have worked with one - TimeTracker, and it seemed to be reasonably accurate, and saved lots of time.

A bit on the high side, as far as price goes. Try the trial version, and see what you think. There are other programs out there, and I am sure there are some a lot cheaper.
A quick google search gets you lots of hits on similiar products.
posted by bradth27 at 3:23 PM on January 6, 2004

Not saying double post, we just had this or a similar question. Unless it was gurmblebee originally posting this and trying to get an answer the second time around as don't recall a solution. Maybe me, I do remember then go back when I find an answer. But then the problem, which day was the question...good luck.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:33 PM on January 6, 2004

When I worked at Gap (I know - don't worry), they used something called StaffWorks. Which, as I recall, was very, very good.
posted by armoured-ant at 4:57 PM on January 6, 2004

If it's a double post, I didn't post the first one (or see it).
posted by grumblebee at 6:43 PM on January 6, 2004

isn't this NP-complete?
posted by kaibutsu at 6:52 PM on January 6, 2004

nerd joke ahoy!
posted by rudyfink at 7:50 PM on January 6, 2004

I posted the first question, when I should have posted the above question.

The industry term for this sort of thing is "timetabling." I have yet to find anything that was easy to use or affordable, so for now I'm going to use filemaker pro and cobble together a solution. Each employee will have a field that indicates their preferences, so I could search for "everyone who wants to work Monday from 9-12 and can teach technical writing"

Good luck.
posted by mecran01 at 12:13 PM on January 7, 2004

I didn't post the first one (or see it).
I ran out of time and was not able to locate it either when I first commented, it's ok(hopes memory was correct) :)
posted by thomcatspike at 1:43 PM on January 7, 2004

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