About the optimization steps

The optimization of the schedule reallocates days off and work shifts to make the staffing levels match the forecast as closely as possible while still fulfilling the defined work rules. The optimization works to achieve the best possible result within the limits that are defined by the optimization options. Absences are not changed by the optimization.

There are seven optimization steps focusing on different aspects. This section describes the purpose of each optimization step to help you decide which steps that are relevant for your business.

NOTE   The optimization can only use the shifts that are in the agents' shift bags. The variation of for example shift lengths and the length and placement of the activities within the shifts are therefore critical for the result of the optimization.

Days off

The Days off optimization step moves days off within the schedule period to align the schedule to the forecast. The Days off optimization is the most powerful optimization step to achieve a staffing balance over the schedule period.

The Days off optimization step never changes the number of days off for the schedule period, just the placement of the days off.

The Days off optimization step always considers the settings on how to handle days off on the Days off tab in the optimization options. It will not move a day off if that move would break the defined rules.

If you are also using the minimum staffing limitations on the Advanced tab, the Days off optimization step also strives to fulfill the Minimum agents value defined in the forecast.

When you use restrictions that do not cover the target number of days off, a day off can be scheduled on a day that the restriction has defined as a workday. This makes it possible to only define a few days off in the rotation or availability. The optimization will place the remaining days off where they are best needed. This increases the scheduling flexibility.

Time between days

The Time between days optimization step works to align the schedule to the forecast by moving scheduled time between days within the schedule period.

In practice, this means that the optimization tries to schedule longer shifts on days that are understaffed and shorter shifts on days that are overstaffed (or at least less understaffed).

The Time between days optimization step never changes the contract time for the schedule period.

Shifts for flexible work time

The Shifts for flexible work time optimization step adjusts the shift lengths to align the schedule to the forecast.

What separates this optimization step from Time between days and Shifts within day is that Shifts for flexible work time uses the target tolerance on the agents' contracts if needed, both positive and negative. The contract time for the schedule period might consequently be changed.

Days off for flexible work time

The Days off for flexible work time optimization step adjusts the number of days off to align the schedule to the forecast. What separates this optimization step from the Days off optimization step is that this step uses the days off tolerance on the agents' contracts if needed, both positive and negative. Days off are added or replaced by shifts on the days where it gives the biggest improvement.

The agents can still work the same average work time per day, even though working more or less days than normal, if the Shifts for flexible work time optimization step is also selected and the target tolerance on the agents' contracts is big enough. The contract time for the schedule period might consequently change if a day off is added or removed.

The average work time per day will change for the agents when adding or removing days off if the Shifts for flexible work time optimization step is not selected. This is because the target contract time is still the same but, the number of days off and consequently the number of workdays, have changed.

Shifts within day

The Shifts within day optimization step tries to find a better shift for each day, to further align the schedule to the forecast. This step can for example move a shift to an earlier or later start time, change the activities within the shift and move the breaks. This step cannot change the length of the shift.

Use the optimization options on the Shifts tab to define what must be kept the same when you optimize the schedule late in the process. For example, if you are optimizing today's schedule, you can choose to keep the start and end time the same and limit what activities that can be moved.

Intra interval balance

The Intra interval balance optimization step is useful when you have agents working telephony or chat skills and are scheduled with activities that are shorter than the interval length.

For example, agents are scheduled on 5-minute breaks within a 15-minute interval. The Intra interval balance optimization step detects if there is an uneven distribution of those breaks within an interval. It will then replace some shifts with shifts that have a different placement of the break within the interval to achieve a better balance.

This optimization step can change the shift start time, change the activities and move breaks, within the limits that are defined by the optimization options on the Shifts tab.

The intra interval balance for each interval is shown on the intraday level in the schedule result table. On the day level, the lowest intra interval balance value of the day is shown.

The intra interval balance is calculated by dividing the minimum resources with the maximum resources for each interval. When the value is lower than 80%, it is considered to be an issue and highlighted in red. See About the result table parameters for more information.

Fairness

The Fairness optimization step tries to achieve fairness between agents within the schedule period. Only use this for agents who are scheduled flexibly, without preferences or other restrictions.

The fairness optimization can work towards one of two goals.

  • Schedule the same number of shifts of the different shift categories, or as close as possible to the same number, for agents within the same team or group.
  • Schedule preferred shifts for agents with a higher seniority level. The seniority is counted from the start date of the agent's first person period. The preferred shifts are configured in Options. See Configure preferred working days and shifts for more information.

The type of fairness to use is defined on the agents' workflow control set.

The Fairness optimization step swaps shifts between agents to achieve a better fairness level. A swap of shifts is only done if the shifts have the same contract time. Therefore, it will be harder to improve the fairness if there are a lot of shifts with different shift lengths.

The agents must have the same skills for a swap to be possible. Also, the Fairness optimization step cannot swap a shift to an agent if that shift is not in their shift bag.

NOTE   The Fairness optimization step does not consider the settings on the Shifts tab, where you specify to keep for example the start time or shift category.

Fairness when using team scheduling

If using team scheduling, the fairness optimization step tries to achieve fairness between teams or group pages. The team or group page to compare with is selected in the Team scheduling section on the Extra tab of the optimization options.

NOTE   
  • A swap of shifts cannot be made if it would break work rules for any of the agents in the teams.
  • When optimizing fairness with team scheduling, the teams must have the same number of agents for it to work.
  • When using seniority fairness optimization with team scheduling, the team with the highest average seniority get the preferred shifts.

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