Maintaining an efficient workforce scheduling system can be difficult and time consuming, but automated scheduling systems have been developed to ease the process. Food Manufacturing spoke with Greg Flessas of ScheduleSoft about automated scheduling and what it means for the food industry.
Q: What product or services does ScheduleSoft offer to the food industry?
A: ScheduleSoft provides automated workforce scheduling software that is demand driven, rules-based and user configurable. This means that our software allows a facility to more efficiently schedule a workforce to meet fluctuations in demand that could be based on seasonality or sales-driven events. In addition, because it is rules-based and user configurable, a solution from ScheduleSoft is based on the unique run-rules and labor standards of a particular facility.
Q: With which industries have you had the most success implementing automated workforce scheduling?
A: ScheduleSoft offers workforce scheduling for many industries, but we’re a particularly good fit for the food industry because of our ability to generate a labor schedule based on fluctuating demands, multiple constraints and complex labor agreements. One area where we have unique experience is in the bakery category. This is an area that often has incredibly complex union rules that can make overtime scheduling, vacation planning and even straight time scheduling difficult to automate. Using our industry experience we have implemented workforce scheduling solutions for even the most complex scheduling environments.
Q: What challenges have you faced introducing your product to the food industry?
A: Our biggest challenge has been helping organizations understand the strategic value workforce scheduling can provide. Companies often think what they have in place for scheduling is “good enough” or that scheduling for their environment is so unique and complex that it can’t be automated. ScheduleSoft has a solid history of successfully implementing automated workforce scheduling in these types of environments.
Q: What are the benefits of automated workforce scheduling?
A: Because labor represents a large percentage of an organization’s controllable costs, the benefits of implementing automated workforce scheduling can be significant. Our customers have seen drastic improvements in operational efficiencies including reduced labor costs, a more efficient workforce and a more agile workforce that can respond to fluctuations in demand. But the benefits go beyond cost savings and include “soft” benefits like improved employee satisfaction due to scheduling rules being applied fairly across the organization and the ability for employees to have more control over and visibility to their schedules.
Q: What should food manufacturers consider when it comes to workforce scheduling?
A: The food industry has many challenges that are forcing organizations to look for as many ways as possible to improve efficiencies. In order to stay competitive and remain viable, these organizations need to leverage their workforce. Food manufacturers should understand two things:
- Workforce scheduling can be a strategic advantage – it is not just a tactical nice-to-have.
- It is possible to automate scheduling even in the most complex manufacturing and labor environments.
Q: What do you see in the future for workforce scheduling in the food industry?
A: Our food manufacturing customer base continues to grow and we expect to see workforce scheduling becoming a competitive advantage in this industry. A food processing facility that does not have the ability to flex their workforce based on fluctuating production requirements will not be agile enough to remain competitive.
Interview By Lindsey Coblentz, Associate Editor