Can robots make better schedules than you?

Creating the best possible schedule is much harder than it looks - just ask anyone who creates schedules for their organization.

Creating the best possible schedule is much harder than it looks - just ask anyone who creates schedules for their organization and faces the constant battle of balancing the needs of employees and the needs of the business.

Yet, with AI in software becoming more advanced and powerful every single year, will the role of the scheduler soon be a thing of the past? Or will a schedule created by a person, with the help of AI, be the one that hits all the right notes?

AI-driven scheduling

First, let’s look at what we mean when we talk about AI in scheduling and workforce management.

Put simply, it means using data to make better decisions for your business and employees. This can boost employee engagement, help you measure business performance against budgeted hours, easily see if you're over or under staffed, and create a stronger ROI.

AI in WFM means the solution providing suggested actions for you, the user, based on learnt behaviour and automated predictions. You define the rules, then the AI makes the magic happen by automatically optimizing your schedules in the way you want them to be optimized.

The best scheduling and forecasting algorithms find patterns in historical data and combine different data sources to predict the future giving you a more accurate view of what you can expect demand to be. 

When creating schedules your local managers have to:

  • Factor in employee preferences
  • Meet customer demand
  • Balance costs

They are only human and they only have so much processing power. Trying to create optimized schedules and keep every stakeholder happy is nearly impossible for them to do on their own. With machine learning and AI, schedules become much more accurate, smarter, effective and efficient.

The human touch

You’d think, with the ability to analyse and process huge amounts of different data instantaneously, the robot wins in the case of who can create the best schedule.

But, before we carried away with the rise of the machines, cast your mind back to our robots at the start. Their defining moments in film - the moments we all remember - didn’t come when they were acting like machines, they came when they were acting like humans, with emotion and empathy.

And while AI and machine learning are making huge leaps forward, we’re nowhere close to creating empathetic artificial intelligence.

A big concern many employees and managers have about AI-powered schedules is the ability of AI to consider other, more human factors (that go beyond data) when creating schedules. 

That’s why, when it comes to creating the best possible schedules right now, you will always have the final say. You choose how you want to optimize your schedules and whether that’s for cost, performance, or employee happiness.

AI will never fully replace people and won’t (at least not in the immediate, foreseeable future) behave in the same way and with the same nuances as a human. 

Sure, if you wanted it to, it could act autonomously. However, in the case of AI in scheduling, presenting suggestions in combination with the power of AI and human touch enhances your ability to make the best decisions for your business.

As such, the use of AI in workforce management software should be seen as an enhancement - not a replacement.

Here’s an example. In Quinyx, both in the desktop and mobile view, your managers will be given a ‘smart list’ of people to fill a shift if, for example, someone has called in sick or is on holiday. These are lists of available employees sorted by relevance / likelihood to accept the shift based on skills, availability, desire to work and more. 

Your manager can then select the best person to fill the empty shift and this person will automatically receive a notification through the mobile app telling them they’ve been added to the schedule. Employees can also be proactively notified an open shift matches their request to work additional time. Ultimately, this whole process will be automated, saving your managers even more time.

It’s a perfect match of AI and the end user working together in harmony. John Connor doesn’t survive without the Terminator and the Terminator doesn’t learn without John Conner. It’s the symbiotic relationship between human and machine where the magic lies. 

That’s why automated, AI-powered scheduling - overseen by a person - is faster, more efficient, smarter, and delivers a far superior end result.

Smart schedules can transform your business. They make your staff and customers happier. They give you better control over your workforce costs. And they ensure you always have the right people in the right place at the right time.

Download our guide on AI-driven scheduling and learn how to skyrocket your ROI with flexible and optimized schedules.

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