Demand Planner

The Demand Planner can be used with forecast data from the ACD to create shifts on the Calendar for a specific workgroup (Team). There are many steps to using this feature, but understanding how they all fit together makes the whole process easier to complete in just a few minutes. The steps below explain the various settings along the way.

Please note: the following instructions along with example images can be found in this document: Demand Planner Instructions

How To Use Demand Planner

1) Go to the calendar page and click "New," then select the “Use Metrics: Shift/Demand & Planning Tools” option. This starts the Demand Planning tool.

2) Download the demand planning template to a computer and open it in a program like Excel.

3) Fill out the columns with data from the ACD or forecasted tasks.

  • Date is the day that is being scheduling.
  • Time is the part of that day for which data is being input.
  • Duration is the amount of time, in minutes, that the volume data applies to.
  • Mean service time is the amount of time (in seconds) each task (call) will take from the time the staff member starts the task until they’re ready for the next one.
  • Volume is the number of tasks that the workgroup (team) will be expected to handle during the time interval.
  • The worksheet can contain data for several days. The duration can be as small as 15 minutes or as long as several hours. Durations and mean service times don’t have to be consistent, but for most organizations they are uniform.

4) Once finished filling out the worksheet, save it to a computer, then use the "Choose File" button to tell Shiftboard where it can be found.

5) Now indicate the service level in the Template Settings area.

  • Choose to either assume that tasks have an average amount of wait time (how long the average person will be on hold) or to use a service rule where an indicated percentage of tasks will be waiting less than a certain amount of time (for example, 80% of callers are on hold less than 20 seconds).
  • Check “Expect gaps between some time intervals” if there are gaps between rows in the worksheet longer than the value in the “Duration” column. If an organization has 24-hour coverage and data for every minute of the day in the worksheet, it is not necessary to check this box. If the contact center is closed at some point, be sure to check this box.
  • These input settings can be saved, making it faster to use the tool after the initial configuration. 

6)  Once the options are set and the file selected, click the "Calculate Positions" button. This will download a new file that is similar to, but not identical to, the file just uploaded to Shiftboard. Once you have that file, you can apply these shifts to the schedule manually or automatically.

8) To apply shifts to the schedule automatically, select the "Apply Shifts to Calendar," option. Otherwise, you can use the file created to manually assign and edit these shifts before publishing them to the schedule. 

7)  The new file will now have a positions column. This is the number of positions that Shiftboard has determined will need to be filled during this interval in order to handle the volume entered at the service level indicated.

  • Most organizations don’t need to make any changes to this document. However, if working with a small group without enough employees to staff all of the positions that the Demand Planner has indicated, it is possible to override the system by changing the number of positions at this stage.
  • Some contact centers are required by their clients to maintain a minimum number of seats dedicated to them at any given time. If this is the case, it is possible to increase the number of positions at this step to meet any required minimums.

8)  Just like before, save this file to a computer, then use the Choose File option to tell the Demand Planner where to find it.

9)  Next enter the shift information in the Template Settings area.

Set some rules for how the Demand Planner will create the shifts:

  • Lead time is the amount of time after the beginning of a shift that workers have before they start handling tasks.
  • Check existing schedule tells the system to take into account people who are already working for this workgroup (team) and to reduce the number of new positions required at each interval by the number of people already scheduled to work.
  • Team (workgroup or other grouping) is the group that is being scheduling based on the data provided.

a) Setting the minimum and maximum duration will tell the Demand Planner to make longer shifts whenever possible, but to handle spikes in the number of tasks by bringing on additional workers for as little time as possible.

b) Use shift/coverage blocks for this team will tell the Demand Planner to only use shift blocks that have been defined. Shift blocks are a great way to quickly add regular shifts without needing to create them from scratch every time and the Demand Planner can use these as well.

If “Expect gaps between some time intervals” was checked before, check it here as well.

10) Click the "Calculate Shifts "button at the bottom of the screen when finished with this section. Shiftboard will provide a third and final template.

11) Select the Schedules tab at the top of the screen to go to the last screen of this process.

12) The last template downloaded is Shiftboard’s Extended Shift Upload Template filled out with the shifts that the Demand Planner has created based on all of the information provided. Edits can be made to this template but are not required. In our example we’ve set the “Auto-Assign” column to “Yes,” but most of the options available when creating a shift within Shiftboard are available in this template as well. Remember to save the file after making any changes.

13) Use the "Choose File" button to upload the Calculated Shift Upload Template from the computer. Now click "Validate Shifts" and follow the prompts to load the new shifts into Shiftboard.

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