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Ideal Staffing

Ideal staffing requirements represent the ideal number of staff that should be available to satisfy demand for customer service, or process other measures of work, by quarter hour by scheduling area or function.

Ideal staffing requirements serve as input to the Planning/Budgeting process and the Dynamic Scheduling process. They also provide the basis for evaluating the quality of schedules, either manually entered or system generated.

The QServ Ideal Staffing engine considers the following factors when calculating ideal staffing requirements:

  • Forecast demand by quarter hour.
  • Event Calendar.
  • Productivity standards and rules.
  • Minimum and maximum staffing limits.
  • Budgeted hours or cost.
Forecast Demand by Quarter Hour

Forecast demand by quarter hour drives the process of setting ideal staffing requirements. Daily forecasts are converted into forecasts by quarter hour using customer traffic patterns derived from POS data or customer counting devices.

Event Calendar

The Event Calendar provides information about non-standard hours of operation associated with promotional events.

Productivity

Productivity standards are used to convert the forecast demand (sales, customers or other drivers) into staffing requirements for each quarter hour. 

User definable rules can be applied to provide a non-linear response to forecast demand.  For example, retailers have often referred to "reach productivity" as a productivity rate that justifies increasing staffing by an additional person.  In fact, queuing theory supports the premise that as demand increases a constant level of customer service (as measured by wait time or line length) can be achieved with increasing productivity.

Don't be put off by the perception that an expensive time and motion study will be needed to develop productivity standards.  In most cases, readily available, empirical data can be used to set initial productivity standards.  Performance tracking reports available from QServ can then be used to refine the standards.

Staffing Limits

Critical to the process of setting ideal staffing requirements are the minimum and maximum staffing limits for each scheduling area or group of scheduling areas.   Minimum staffing requirements ensure that security minimums are satisfied to reduce shrinkage.  Maximum staffing limits reflect operational considerations like the number of available checkout stations.  The ideal staffing resulting from the productivity calculations for each quarter hour are compared to staffing limits and are adjusted accordingly.

Budgeted Hours or Cost

When calculating ideal staffing to drive scheduling QServ considers the budgeted hours or cost for the week.  If the ideal staffing requirements do not match the budget then staffing levels are adjusted up or down until they match the budget.  Note that this step can be disabled if the user prefers to compare scheduled/actual coverage against raw ideal staffing requirements.

Forecast Sales by Day

The process begins with a daily forecast of sales by scheduling area based on sales history. The graph below shows the daily forecast for September 2013. Click on the graph to enlarge the image.

Traffic Patterns

Traffic patterns derived from customer counts or POS transaction data provide the percentage of total daily traffic occurring in each quarter hour period. In the graph below the green line shows the pattern for Sunday while the red line shows the pattern for Monday, which for this week corresponds to Labor Day.

Sales Forecast by Quarter Hour

The distribution of customer traffic by quarter hour is then applied to the daily forecast to provide a forecast by quarter hour.

Productivity Rules

User definable productivity rules are then applied to convert the forecast by quarter hour into the required staffing for each quarter hour period. The graph below shows the relationship between sales and ideal staffing for two different rules. The green line shows the relationship for a straight line relationship while the red line provides for increased productivity as sales and customer arrival rates increase. For example, when the forecast sales are 150 the straight line relationship yields staffing of four while the more aggressive relationship yields staffing of three.

Ideal Staffing

Calculated staffing requirements are then compared to minimum and maximum staffing limits and the budgeted hours by day to produce the final ideal staffing by quarter hour.

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