When Will You Need This?

ProcessModel’s new VAO Schedule Planner is designed to find the optimal staff plan. In addition to helping build a complex system faster, this model object has advanced methods to uncover savings from better staffing.

The planner is built to plan and assign many resources on multiple shifts to the same activity (or activities). This planner graphically shows the current staffing, graphically illustrates what is needed, and graphically plans optimized shifts to best meet the goals of the organization. The VAO Schedule Planner does the following:

* Quickly sets up current shift schedules from a single page form.

* Assigns “resources to groups,” then to work assignments all from a single page.

* Analyzes your system to show you the staffing needs as defined by the customer requests.

* Shows the staffing needs in a graphical format.

* Updates the model with the modified shifts and group assignments with the click of a button.

* Determines the effect on any stats in in just minutes.

* Allows changes for future planning on the one-page forms.

Model Object

The following model object can be found in the model objects directory: Shifts \ VAO Shift Planner.

Ease of Use: Moderate

Ease of Modification: Moderate

How to Use the Model Object

1. Open Your Model

Open your model or create a new blank model.

2. Insert the Model Object into Your Model

1. Locate the model object VAO Shift Planner and select the insert button.

2. Move the cursor to the point of insertion and left mouse-click. The upper left corner of the model object will be inserted at the location of the mouse-click.

3. Prepare the Model to Use the VAO Schedule Planner

The VAO schedule planner looks for key elements and words to make needed changes to any model. To allow this model object to interface with your model, you need to modify the model to use the key elements and phrases. The needed changes are very simple and consistent.

If the model was built by assigning resources with connectors, then change the model as show below:

VAO Schedule Planner moFrom

VAO Schedule Planner convert toTo

1. Change the activity to add a separate input queue. The input queue allows Action Logic in the input queue. This is different from an Activity which only allows action logic after leaving the input queue.

1. Change the input Queue Capacity to zero.

Change the input Queue Capacity to zero

2. Change the capacity to be large enough to handle the maximum expected usage of resources. Estimate above the expected need.

3. Remove the time from the time filed and add it to the action logic and free the resource after the processing time. An example is shown below:

VAO Schedule Planner example

2. Add a Storage prior to the activity and give the Storage the same name as the activity, followed by a space, then the word “InQ.” In order to detect a required change, this model object looks for a Storage with the text _InQ on the end of the storage name. Capitalization is not important. An example entry follows:

VAO Schedule Planner create inq

3. Connect the storage to the activity with a percentage route and set the Move Time to zero.

VAO Schedule Planner change move time

4. Add resources to exceed the number of shifts you estimate are needed. Adding too many resources will not cause any problems. Additional resources and shifts may be inserted later, but it is easier to create more than is needed at the beginning.

VAO Schedule Planner add res

Resource graphics can be moved out of the way by sliding them to the bottom of the layout or to a different layer as desired.

5. Modify arrivals so that they will occur on a weekly cycle. See the daily pattern model object for more information. The weekly pattern will allow the variable arrivals to produce a sufficient sample showing the variation in requests.

4. Visualize — Set up Resources for Current System

Turn current shifts into an easy-to-read graphical display of resource assignment. These graphics foster understanding and insight of the current system.

Before using this Excel file for the first time, or after changing your model name, make sure that a manual export of data is done via ProcessModel. From your model, click Tools \ Export Data, click ‘Yes’ to all prompts until the data export file opens, close the data file and then use this Excel file.

Step 1 – Set up Shifts and Assign Resources to Groups

To find the resources in the target model, open the model, and open the VAO Schedule Planner. Select the Setup Workbook button.

VAO Schedule Planner setup workbook

The names of the resources automatically enter column “A.” Reorder the names as desired.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 1

Define which selection of resources belong to the same group by assigning a common number.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 2

Assign the following for all resources:

Qty (quantity) of people assigned to the shift. Use the same shift if the resources have the same times and costs listed in the setup that follows.

Start time of the shift

End time of the shift

Start time for the lunch break

End time for the lunch break

Hourly cost of the resource

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 3

Assign what days the shift is active. Enter the word “On” to signify on-shift. Enter the word “Off” to signify off-shift.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 4

Use the “Threshold” to define your organization’s hours defining full-time employment. Notice that calculations show how many full-time and how many part-time resources have been defined.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 5

To graphically display the groups resource assignment, enter the group number and select the “Show Schedule Graphically for Resource Group” button.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 6

Use the tabs at the bottom of the workbook to graphically display the resource group assignment for each day of the week.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 7

Across the side is the quantity of resources assigned and across the bottom the time by every half hour. The time starts at midnight of the day selected.

We find the results of this exercise revealing. Many of the graphs show that resource assignments don’t represent the requirement placed on the system by customer requests. In addition, the customer requirement is often masked by inadequate staffing in other areas. For example, in an emergency room, if I don’t have doctors scheduled to match presenting customers, then I won’t be able to schedule nurses correctly. The lack of doctors will slow the flow of patients, which will give a false requirement for nurses (admission, technicians, radiology, lab, environmental services, etc.).

Select the Update Shifts button to transfer shift and resource changes to model. The following changes:

* Adds shifts for all resources.

* Change the shift to match step 1 entries.

* Update Quantity and Hourly Costs of each resource.

* Removes shifts and costing from resources no longer included in analysis.

Step 2 – Assign Groups to Work Assignments

Go to the Step2 sheet.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 8

Press the Setup button to pull the resources from the Step1 sheet. Enter a character in the cell intersecting the resource and the location where the resource works. A “X” was used in this example, but you may use any character.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 9

After the resource assignments are made, select the Update Logic button. The logic used to assign resources will be created and then transferred to the model. The logic puts all resources in a group and then rotates the order for selecting the resources to even out utilization.

Run the model and measure KPI’s. Your KPI’s might include some of the following:

* Total time in the system

* Work time in system

* Waiting time

* Work in Process

* Percent meeting SLA

The results provide the current state as a result of staffing policy.

5. Needs Analysis – to Determine Quantity and Timing of Staffing Needed

To shorten processing time, resource availability needs to match requests by the customer. The sooner a resource can respond to requests, the less time entities will wait. Less waiting equates to faster overall processing. The quantity of resources used to meet customer requests need to be tempered by cost. The challenge is to match the requests with available resources as closely as possible given constraints.

This section automatically modifies the model to show you the average number of resources needed each hour of the day to meet customer requests. The model is then run for 30 weeks to show the range of variation for that hour of the day.

Step 3 – Modify the Model to Run Needs Analysis

Select the Step-3 sheet from the VAO Schedule Planner worksheet.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 10

Press the Update Model button to modify the model to run the needs analysis. The following changes are introduced into the model:

1. The run length is set to 30 weeks.

2. The animation is turned “Off.”

3. One of the resources of each group is made the primary resource.

4. Adds variables used to collect utilization stats.

5. Sets up the logic to collect utilization stats.

Run the model to completion (5040 hours) and select No when presented with the dialog “Do you what to see the results?”

Produce “Needs Graphs” for Each Resource Group

1. Go to the new output report.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 11

2. Export “Average Resources in Use” Variables

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 12

Leave the name of the export file as automatically supplied. The name is required for the next step.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 13

Select the variables that contain the name “AveResInUse,” and select Export.

3. From the From the VAO Schedule Planner, select the Calculate button

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 14

Creating the graphs takes time, so please be patient. For each variable, nine graphs supply information – one for every day of the week, a summary for weekdays, and another summary for the weekend. This means when you have 10 groups of resources, 90 complex graphs will be created.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 15

Each graph illustrates the range of average resource requests for every hour of the day. The variable v_ AveResInUse1 is for Resource Group 1, v_ AveResInUse2 is for Resource Group 2, etc.

The Box Plot allows staffing trends to be observed. For example, the box plot below shows consistent trending of requests during specific times of the day.

VAO Shift Planner graphic

Thirty samples create the box plots for every hour of every day. A summary of the Monday to Friday uses 150 samples. The box plot is divided into four quartiles. Fifty percent (two quartiles) of the values fall within the red box. Twenty-five percent fall within each whisker above and below the red box. The “X” shows the average value. The “dots” are calculated as outliers.

These graphs provide the range of resources needed during all hours of the day.

The top of the red box describes the number of resources needed to “meet the need” 75% of the time. Different types of systems will require staffing at different levels. In inbound sales call center requires much higher level of staffing to match requests to salespeople in a timely manner. A production system may be able to push “peak hours” into subsequent lower hours to even out staffing requirements.

6. Optimize – Modify Shifts to Meet the “Needs Analysis”

With the analysis you are now ready to design and test shifts

Step 4 – Overlay New Shifts on the Results of the Needs Analysis

Select the Excel sheet titled “Step4.”

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 17

Use the procedure from Step 1 to plan shifts that will best meet the requirements identified from the Needs Analysis, using legal staffing guidelines, and goals given from by management team.

If a resource is not needed, then clear timing and cost information from the Step4 sheet. Remove the resource from the group work assignment in the Step5 sheet.

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 18

Step5 sheet

VAO Schedule Planner workbook 19

Experiment with Shifts to Meet System Goals

The process of changing the shifts is iterative. Changes to one of the groups will likely affect others. The opportunity is to quickly see the effect of shift changes on a variety of measurements. Change the shift and resource assignments in just a few seconds and see the effect on key performance indicators.

Seeing the effect of changes requires no creation or changing of action logic, no drawing complicated connector lines, or adjustment of separate shift files. The model is easy to Visualize, Analyze and Optimize for the best results.

7. Completion

The model object is now integrated into your model and can be used to plan optimal shifts.

Attributes, Variables, Scenario Parameters and Scenarios Usage


1. v_EntCheck#: Do not change. Used to randomize resource get at all input queues.

2. v_AveResInUse#: Do not change. Used to calculate resource averages.

3. v_SumOfSamplesRecorded#: Do not change. Used to calculate the sum of samples recorded during each 30 min segments.