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The QServ planning engine is used to set plan hours and cost by day by scheduling area over multi-week planning periods of a month, season or year.  The plans can be set to achieve a hours or cost budget or a productivity or selling cost objective by location, region or total company. 

The output of the planning process serves as input to the scheduling process and controls the hours and cost available for each scheduling area. Plan reports also provide valuable information for hiring and adjusting minimum and maximum weekly hours for associates.

Planning Process

During the plan calculation process QServ first develops a table of staffing requirements from the bottom up using the Ideal Staffing engine. This calculation considers forecasts for sales and other drivers by function and day, productivity standards and minimum staffing requirements for security and loss prevention.

The staffing requirements resulting from the bottom up calculation are then compared to the top level budget, productivity or selling cost objective.  If the rollup of required hours or cost exceed the top level objective, then QServ selectively reduces plan hours and cost by function and day based on forecast sales until the top level objective is achieved. As hours and cost are reduced QServ ensures that minimum staffing rules and weekly base hour requirements are satisfied.

If the staffing requirements are less than the hours or cost provided by the objective, then additional hours are added to the functions and days with the highest forecast.

If recalculating plans midway through a month or season QServ will optionally include actuals to date so plan hours and cost for future periods include the effects of actual hours, cost and sales to date. For example, if management sets a selling cost objective of 5% for the Spring season for the company before the start of the season and then recalculates the seasonal plan each month during the season, including actuals to date, the plan hours and cost for the remaining months of the season will be set to achieve that overall selling cost objective of 5% for the season.

An important consideration is that week boundaries represent artificial boundaries.  A planning process that is based on weekly forecasts can produce the wrong result (see the planning white paper  for more details).

Adjusting Capacity to Plan

A seasonal plan provides a long range view of staffing requirements. Synchronizing available staffing with planned hours can be accomplished using QServ WFM reports and tools.

The "Planning Conflicts" report identifies weeks when the minimum hour commitments to associates exceed planned hours or the maximum hours available from associates falls short of planned hours.

When associates are added to the QServ database, either through an import process or manually, they are assigned to a scheduling class. A scheduling class defines the minimum and maximum hours per week, minimum and maximum shift length and minimum and maximum number of shifts per week for each associate assigned to the class. Exceptions to the class properties can be entered for individual associates. To minimize maintenance requirements permission to modify these properties for individual associates should be limited to application administrators.

The "Full Time/Part Time Mix" report presents the full time/part time mix of associates in terms minimum hour requirements and headcount and is used to balance the associate mix. Use this report to adjust the headcount mix to match management objectives.

Adjustments to minimum and maximum capacity can easily applied to the total organization by simply revising scheduling class properties. For example, to reduce capacity simply reduce the minimum weekly hours for part time classes. In the same manner maximum capacity can also be adjusted up.

Available capacity for specific days, like "Black Friday", can be increased by defining events for these days that enable the use of extended shifts, overtime and that allow associates to be scheduled on a day that has been selected as a normal day off.

Plan by Period

This graph displays the forecast sales and plan productivity (SPH) by week for the Fall Season of 2013 for the New York location for selling areas only. Note the comparatively flat productivity indicating that plan hours are responding to forecast sales and will provide a consistent level of customer service.

Plan vs Capacity

Synchronizing the minimum and maximum hours commitments to associates is an important element of the planning process. In the graph below the green bars indicate weeks when the minimum hour commitment to associates exceed the plan, while the red bar indicates a week when the hours available from staff fall short of the plan hours.

Full Time/Part Time

The report below shows the mix of part time and full time associates by scheduling area.

Adjusting Minimum and Maximum Hours

All associates are assigned to a scheduling class (e.g., Full Time, Extra On Call...). Scheduling classes define the minimum and maximum hours per week for associates assigned to the class. A simple adjustment of the minimum hours per week for part time and short hour classes can significantly impact variances between plan hours and associate required hours.

Plan vs Capacity After Adjustments

The graph below shows a significant reduction in weeks with excess hours after adjusting scheduling class minimums. Near the end of the season as shown below some associates should be assigned to an "Extra On Call" class that has no minimum weekly hours.

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