The Traditional Method (Pencil & Paper) of Staff Scheduling
Take the original copy, overlay with comments,
corrections, changes, crossing outs, chaos.
Then someone has to check time sheets to correlate
with the schedule. It's time consuming and error prone
Equipment requirements. A long sharp pencil, a large eraser, a ruled sheet of paper, a quiet place where there are no interruptions (perhaps your home), a couple of hours, a phone, plenty of patience.
Procedure. 1. Write down everyone's name and date. 2. Write in the staff's necessary permanent shifts (i.e. meetings, case conferences). 3. Write in fixed shifts such as holidays, training. 4. Write in requests from the request book, usually days off . 5. Write in days off. 6. Start with the highest qualified staff and write in their shifts, going left to right and downwards. 7. Carry on writing in shifts of the lessor qualified staff to fit in. 8. Count the numbers of staff on duty on each shift and adjust accordingly. 9. Make the hard copy to show the staff for reaction (the closer to deadline the better, since there is less opportunity for dissent) and alterations. 10. Negotiate with other wards and managers over the use of staff where there is over-staffing or under-staffing. 11. Try to provide a quality service, lacking the facts to make it work.
The Computer Method using Visual Rota
Procedure. 1. Bring up the master file or the appropriate file for that month. The items coloured blue, red and green in the above paragraph are already on the file. The items coloured blue are the same from month to month, the items coloured red are almost certainly the same from one month to the next, or are requests which are input when they arise, sometimes months in advance. The green items are automatically done by the computer.
2. Check the numbers of staff on duty for each shift and adjust accordingly. This is extremely quick because the computer deletes the previous entry, re-counts the staff on duty automatically, and presents the results in microseconds.
3. Staff reactions are negligible because they can be present or contacted by phone as the schedule is processed.
4. Negotiations with other wards and managers are still necessary, but even then its quicker because the problems can be negotiated well in advance.
Visual Rota does not require special training in this aspect of staff scheduling. it's so much your existing methods that a few minutes of orientation is all that's necessary. Hence no-one should fear having to put more effort into using the program than they do at the moment, they won't have to. Also, it's not going to put anyone out of a job, the manager doing the scheduling will just have more time to spend on patient care, or managing, or training.
Once a few months of schedules have been prepared going forward into the future, then Visual Rota will have produced management data automatically that can be analysed. This aspect of the program can require experience to use to its full potential. Simply knowing the facts and figures about running the business does not necessarily tell you how to proceed and maximise your potential. Collecting data and using it for solving problems is a management task Problems are encountered and defined. Hypotheses are developed. Data is collected to test the hypothesis. You can have exploratory studies, descriptive studies and causal studies. You can have primary data and secondary data. Visual Rota will give you primary data and the ability to experiment, altering one variable at a time. If you can obtain the staff schedules of other organisations and use Visual Rota for comparative purposes, then you can bench mark your organisation. We did just that.