Introducing Smart Templates

Renée Mellish

31 January 2019    |   

Creating rosters using templates is great because in one click you have an entire roster worth of shifts. But even with templates, there are still a bunch of edits that you have to make after it is applied, for example: swapping out staff who are now on leave or unavailable, assigning staff to vacant shifts, etc. Today, we are introducing Smart Templates, a way to apply a template and have the best staff assigned to vacant shifts at the same time. You can start using Smart Templates today, by clicking the Apply Smart template option in your template menu on rosters. How it works: 1. Start by creating a template that has the coverage you know you need for the week, e.g. you know you need 3 people in the bar on Saturday night and 1 person to always be on the front desk. Note: Only vacant shifts will get adjusted so if you have shifts you don’t want to be altered just make sure those have staff assigned. 2. Apply your smart template. 3. When a template is applied any vacant shifts will have staff assigned automatically using the Tanda’s Cognitive algorithm. The algorithm works like this: Look at all the vacant shifts in the template across the week Avoid adding users with clashing shifts/leave/unavailability Avoid breaking roster validation rules Assign a cost-effective team Aim for fairness by spreading out shifts Read more: What’s new in Tanda — January 2019 FAQ Does it assign staff to shifts on a day by day basis (mon-sun) or does it look across the entire week? The way the algorithm works is it looks for the best combinations across the entire week at once, rather than doing it day by day and making the choices for available staff on the last day the least favourable. If I have shifts in my template that already have staff assigned i.e. full timers, part timers but those staff are on leave when I apply the template will those shifts be swapped out? At this stage no, only shifts that are left vacant will be filled – but we plan on making this part of a future version of smart templates.

Creating rosters using templates is great because in one click you have an entire roster worth of shifts. But even with templates, there are still a bunch of edits that you have to make after it is applied, for example: swapping out staff who are now on leave or unavailable, assigning staff to vacant shifts, etc.

Today, we are introducing Smart Templates, a way to apply a template and have the best staff assigned to vacant shifts at the same time.

You can start using Smart Templates today, by clicking the Apply Smart template option in your template menu on rosters.

How it works:

1. Start by creating a template that has the coverage you know you need for the week, e.g. you know you need 3 people in the bar on Saturday night and 1 person to always be on the front desk.

Note: Only vacant shifts will get adjusted so if you have shifts you don’t want to be altered just make sure those have staff assigned.

Tanda-Smart-Roster-Template-1

2. Apply your smart template.

Tanda-Smart-Roster-Template-2

3. When a template is applied any vacant shifts will have staff assigned automatically using the Tanda’s Cognitive algorithm.

The algorithm works like this:

  • Look at all the vacant shifts in the template across the week
  • Avoid adding users with clashing shifts/leave/unavailability
  • Avoid breaking roster validation rules
  • Assign a cost-effective team
  • Aim for fairness by spreading out shifts

Read more: What’s new in Tanda — January 2019

FAQ

Does it assign staff to shifts on a day by day basis (mon-sun) or does it look across the entire week?

The way the algorithm works is it looks for the best combinations across the entire week at once, rather than doing it day by day and making the choices for available staff on the last day the least favourable.

If I have shifts in my template that already have staff assigned i.e. full timers, part timers but those staff are on leave when I apply the template will those shifts be swapped out?

At this stage no, only shifts that are left vacant will be filled – but we plan on making this part of a future version of smart templates.

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Industry Insights    |   

How this retailer increased profit by $8.9m from rostering more hours

There has been a lot of speculation on why we are losing retailers so fast. An interesting research piece from the US presented an alternative hypothesis that generalises the issue down to rostering for profit rather than rostering to control costs. For context – If you were given the choice of increasing revenue by 5% or reducing costs by 5% in order to create the most profitable outcome, what would choose? A “back of the hand” calculation would show that reducing costs increases profit more than the equivalent uptick in revenue. Accordingly, most retailers choose option two. This makes sense if you assume the two scenarios are independent of each other, but what if the cost was your employees? This is where the problems arise. For industries like retail, where staff have a direct impact on sales, it’s not as simple of a question as cutting costs to increase profit. In a study led by Professor Marshall Fisher from Wharton, he and his research team constructed a conceptual model from historical data to identify stores within a US-based retail chain that had the highest potential to benefit from increased labour spend. Importantly, the strategy was actually implemented at 168 retail sites over a 26-week period to validate the model, with the retailer electing to implement the strategy further. The result: A near $8.9 million increase in profit of the stores included. The labour cost challenge The challenge in allocating labour budgets lies in the tradeoff between the known immediate payroll cost and the less certain increase in sales that could be achieved with more staff on hand. The researchers point out that retail managers have a tendency to overweigh the decision to reduce the known payroll cost than the less certain increase in sales which could be achieved by allocating additional labour spend. The labour budget death spiral The study highlights the limitation of the most common retail strategy — setting labour budgets as a portion of sales. Fisher points out that this approach creates a circular problem by failing to take into account how store labour spend can positively impact sales, with the worst case leading to a spiraling effect of reduced sales forecasts reducing labour spend which reduces sales further and so on. Quantifying the impact of labour spend on revenue Creating labour budgets that are designed to maximise profit requires retailers to know on a store-by-store basis the correlation between labour-spend and sales. One way to do this is by looking at times when staffing levels deviate from the original schedule. If ten staff were scheduled on a particular day, but on that day only eight turned up, did sales also decrease by the same portion? If not, by how much? If the answer to the above is that sales didn’t decrease at all, the store is likely overstaffed. If there is a measurable impact, the inverse scenario is likely true and the store may be losing sales by being understaffed. This is the same approach used in the study, which found the relationship between random staffing deviations and impacts on sales was statistically significant. Results showed an increase in labour spend pointed to increased sales at varying degrees, depending on known store attributes. Implementing the strategy for profit The study identified stores in a US retail chain which had the highest market potential, making them good candidates for an increased labour spend. The market potential factored in attributes like average basket value and proximity to competitors, which would create scenarios that allow workers to have the highest impact on converting sales. In the study, 168 stores were selected this way, then allocated a 10% increased labour budget over a 26-week period, of which 75% of the increase was actually consumed in practice by the stores. The outcome was a 4.5% increase in revenue at the impacted stores and resulting in a near $8.9 million profit increase. Learning from the strategy The study shows empirically why the common practice of setting labour budgets as a fixed proportion of forecasted revenue is often self-defeating when applied in a retail setting. An opportunity exists to all retailers to leverage this same profit-centric model for defining labour budgets. The data required is available to all retailers however, it may just be a matter of leveraging that information with the right systems. An integrated forecasting strategy that integrates foot traffic, sales, and employee scheduling data is a practical opportunity afforded to retailers of any size to optimise their labour resource allocations. The interesting part is, Fisher’s research is readily available to all retailers who are looking to drift away from the traditional method of fixing labor budget rosters. The next step is to get this method of labour resource allocation battle tested in the Australian markets. Stay tuned. Up next: What is the Contingent Workforce and how can you leverage it in your business?

Product Updates UK    |   

We want you to use our software less. Here are 5 new ways to do it.

Have you ever changed numbers on Excel, and everything else changed too? How long did that take? I’m guessing less than the time it took to read this sentence. What takes seconds now took an entire day for an accountant or bookkeeper in the ‘60s. They had paper spreadsheets back then. So a small adjustment meant recalculating, erasing, and filling out all boxes affected by that number. Manually. So if businesses wanted to know how something affects the bottom line, they need to plan ahead. And pay a day’s wage for someone to work it out. This is just for one change. Accounting tools of the 60s. Groovy. Just because something is used a lot doesn’t mean it works. We’re living in the manual spreadsheets era of workforce management Even with current solutions, workforce management is still mostly manual. Checking timesheets, calling up staff to cover, staying on top of qualifications. What should take a couple of minutes can take hours. In short, more time spent in the back office. Less time spent leading staff, tackling business issues, hitting business goals. Less admin, more ambition You buy software to do everything faster. All Tanda research and development comes down to this: we want you to use us less. Less means the job gets done faster. Less timesheet reviews, less calling around, less communication blocks. More working on the frontline, more business goals, more rest and relaxation. Here are 5 new ways to use Tanda less. 1. Less time behind the desk with Live Feed Wherever you are, see who’s at work — and who’s not. Combined with key alerts and live insights, you can make snap decisions to keep your store, warehouse, or centre well-staffed throughout the day and night. Live Feed on the mobile app Previously, you’d have to get on My Tanda to see who’s clocked-in—which takes some time. Even then, it may not be possible, especially if you’re managing a remote workforce, or travel frequently. How it Works. Live feed lets you keep an eye on staff status on the mobile app. This works across teams and locations, depending on manager permissions. Read more: How key alerts and live insights lead to better customer service. 2. Less time figuring things out with the Training Centre Everything you need to get started with Tanda—from basics to breakthroughs—we’ve put it all in one place. Whether you’re just getting started or refreshing your knowledge, our video tutorials will guide you through in record speed. Tanda Training Centre How it Works. A series of videos that teach you everything from basic set-up to advanced rostering. Learn at your own pace. And if you ever get stuck, the chat button is always there. Access it on my.tanda.co/learn. 3. Less work approving timesheets with Associated Tags No need to assign higher duties tags manually on timesheets — which can be time consuming, especially if you have a large team. Associated tags automatically assigns this when certain staff work in different teams.  The associated tags field, located in the team profile. How it Works. Assign the higher duties tag in the team profile. If an employee with that higher duties tag works in that particular team, they’ll immediately receive the higher duties allowance. For more information, visit our help page. 4. Less uncertainty with new Rosters Overview validations Identify unsustainable patterns across time more easily, including overworked or underworked staff; how many staff are going on leave; and staffing levels across multiple weeks. Seeing these inefficient patterns early means you’re likely to avoid them on your next roster (e.g. over-rostering, concurrent leave). Validations on rosters overview. See the full list. How it Works. View as much as a month’s worth of rosters on Rosters Overview‘s easy-to-use interface. Now with all validations of the old weekly roster view. 5. Less clicking around with Qualification Expiry Emails Only see which qualifications need action, when they need to be actioned. You won’t need to go to each staff profile page to review this, which means time saved. This becomes more important as your business grows. An employee qualification email alert How it works. You’ll receive email alerts when staff qualifications are 1) expiring in one month; and 2) have expired. They’ll also be alerted and asked to update their qualifications, if necessary.   Tell us what features make you use Tanda less. The only thing we love more than helping you succeed is hearing success stories. We love your feedback. We listen to it all. Send me a direct email at emerson@tanda.co. Keep up to date with our latest updates on our full changelog.

Product Updates UK    |   

We’re changing leave, especially manual corrections. Here’s how.

Key takeaways We are building towards fully automated leave Features are released in stages over the next 3-6 months Eventually, staff can just enter the leave start and end date We’ll apply the correct hours every time All managers have to do is review and approve Our vision: never having to manually correct leave. Ever. Released in stages over the next 3-6 months We are making leave entry completely automated. In the next few months, you’ll be seeing a series of features, with each release letting you check and approve leave requests faster. The end goal: never having to manually correct leave ever again. Ultimate leave automation: applying contract hours and roster patterns For automated leave to work, it needs to be accurate, too. Otherwise, we’ll always rely on manual entry. So in this feature, we’ll take rostered hours and usual hours worked,  (contractually-bound or verbal). Then we combine them and form the entire leave request—making the hours as accurate as possible. And if you are in 24/7 industries like call centres and fire departments, good news. We’re releasing roster patterns soon. When applied, leave hours are matched with the roster pattern in use. Our end goal: an even higher form of automation Soon, you’ll only see it in a museum. This is what we’re eventually working towards: if we detect a statistically-significant pattern based on previous hours, these days and times get carried to the leave request. So to kill the dinosaurs of manual entry, that’s the great automated leave meteor we’re building. But to get to that, we need to work our way up. One small step for getting rid of manual corrections If a 3-days/week staff member requests a 2-week long leave, they get allocated 14 days leave pay—which is incorrect. So instead of approving, managers delete the leave request and create new ones. This is not an efficient use of time. And we’re happy to say you don’t have to do that anymore. You can now edit time breakdowns on leave requests. Ironically, our first step towards leave automation is manual (baby steps). You can manually assign the times match the correct leave hours (see visual below). This is likely to go live in the next couple of weeks. We’re hoping this is a helpful remedy in the meantime, but you won’t be doing this for long. Soon, it’ll be automated. Changing time breakdowns: our manual step to automation. Up next: automatically fill from roster. If staff are rostered during their leave dates, these hours are reflected on the request. Just check and approve. Then: change the roster cards. Before approving the leave request, change the affected shifts: Make the shift vacant and find a replacement Delete the shift if you don’t need it anymore. Usually applies for salaried staff. Keep the rostered shift and the leave card. Applies when staff work half a shift and then go home sick. We’re always listening. We talk about what we do a lot. But we also love to listen. If you have any feedback, suggestions, or general thoughts on this, shoot me an email at emerson@tanda.co We build features so you can succeed with your team. So we value your ideas. After all, you’re on the frontline. Thanks for being part of the team.

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About the author

Renée Mellish

Development: Renee is part of the software development team working as a UI/UX designer. She is responsible for designing Tanda in a way that provides the best possible experience for our users.

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Related Articles

Industry Insights

How this retailer increased profit by $8.9m from rostering more hours

There has been a lot of speculation on why we are losing retailers so fast. An interesting research piece from the US presented an alternative hypothesis that generalises the issue down to rostering for profit rather than rostering to control costs. For context – If you were given the choice of increasing revenue by 5% […]

Product Updates UK

We want you to use our software less. Here are 5 new ways to do it.

Have you ever changed numbers on Excel, and everything else changed too? How long did that take? I’m guessing less than the time it took to read this sentence. What takes seconds now took an entire day for an accountant or bookkeeper in the ‘60s. They had paper spreadsheets back then. So a small adjustment meant […]

Product Updates UK

We’re changing leave, especially manual corrections. Here’s how.

Key takeaways We are building towards fully automated leave Features are released in stages over the next 3-6 months Eventually, staff can just enter the leave start and end date We’ll apply the correct hours every time All managers have to do is review and approve Our vision: never having to manually correct leave. Ever. […]

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