As everybody knows, a company is only as good as its people. This saying holds true throughout the business world, including the supply chain domain.
Employees are companies’ most valuable (and expensive) resource – as they play a central role in determining each businesses’ levels of productivity, delivery performance, and profitability.
Employees can either be a driver of strategic strength or a source of soaring costs – and this depends on how efficiently the workforce is utilized.
The challenges of workforce management
Effectively managing a team of workers is a dizzyingly complicated task, involving numerous business objectives and constraints.
When making workforce plans and decisions, companies must take into account:
– Constantly changing demand conditions that dictate workforce requirements and can create costly overcapacity and under-capacity issues.
– Individual employees’ preferences, skill sets, specializations, contracts, and availability – to ensure fairness and employee satisfaction.
– Each company’s numerous and often conflicting key performance indicators (KPIs) such as maximizing utilization and service level performance and minimizing operating costs and employee overtime.
– Fluctuations in workforce capacity due to unexpected employee absences or turnover, which can result in production or service disruptions.
– Rules and regulations including government labor laws, service level agreements with customers, and company-specific policies – to mitigate the risk of compliance issues.
Using manual planning techniques and tools like Excel, it is virtually impossible to create workforce plans that balance all the above objectives and constraints. These manual planning methods typically result in poor resource utilization, skyrocketing overtime costs, and widespread employee dissatisfaction.
To achieve workforce optimization, an algorithm-based planning and optimized decision making solution is required. With such a solution, companies can optimize their workforce utilization based on their unique KPIs and constraints, maximize utilization as well as customer and employee satisfaction, and minimize costs.
Complete, customized workforce optimization
To optimize their workforce utilization, companies must be able to make optimized workforce plans and decisions – taking into account their demand dynamics, business objectives, and constraints such as employee preferences and regulations – on the following levels:
– Operational level: An intelligent planning and decision making solution enables companies to optimize their rostering and shift and task assignment processes, giving planners and other key stakeholders full visibility and control over their workforce planning and deployment.
With such a solution, planners can automatically generate optimal (demand-driven, KPI- and constraint based) employee rosters and schedules – to ensure that the right people are in the right places at the right times, performing the right tasks on the right equipment and assets.
In the event of sudden demand fluctuations, unplanned employee absences, or disruptions, planners can instantly reoptimize their schedules and make the best possible decisions – in real time – on how to redeploy their workforce, revise their rosters, and reassign tasks.
– Tactical level: On the tactical level, an algorithmic planning and decision making optimization solution gives companies the ability to optimize their mid-term capacity planning and decision making processes.
Based on forecasted demand and taking into account constraints such as seasonal events and planned employee absences for training or other reasons, planners and key stakeholders can determine their workforce needs over a four-to sixteen-week time horizon and generate shift requirements and anonymous, generic employee rosters – so that they can ensure that they will have the necessary employees in place to satisfy future demand.
Planners can also conduct “what-if” analysis to explore different scenarios to gauge their impact on their company’s KPIs.
– Strategic level: With an advanced planning and decision making optimization solution, companies can make optimized strategic plans and decisions on the size and distribution of their workforce over the coming years based on their long-term demand plans as well as their projections on the future development of their networks.
This enables alignment of strategic network plans with workforce capacity planning – so that companies can make sure they have the employee resources (with the right skillsets) they need to meet demand over the long haul.
Integrated, optimized workforce planning and decision making
A robust algorithm-based planning and decision making software solution, like ICRON, enables total integration and optimization of your strategic, tactical, and operational workforce planning and decision making.
With ICRON, you can automatically generate optimal employee schedules and workforce plans – taking into account your company’s unique KPIs and constraints such as labor laws and employee specializations and preferences – that perfectly match staffing to demand and maximize efficiency, delivery performance, bottom line results, and employee satisfaction and retention.
With ICRON’s workforce optimization solution, you can keep not only your customers happy (by increasing service levels) and your shareholders happy (by reducing operational and overtime costs), but you can also keep your workers happy (by eliminating unfairness and ensuring optimal, ongoing employee utilization and satisfaction).