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T: 01636 816 466

The Old Vicarage
Station Road, Rolleston
NG23 5SE                              

Operational Research

You can always be more efficient

Operational Research is all about using analysis to improve decision making. Dr Angela Moore uses mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, optimisation, sequencing and scheduling techniques to create simple heuristics you can employ to run your operation more efficiently.


Why managing shifts is like managing a football team?

Monday, 25 June 2018 09:24


You may not realise how similar a shift operation is to a football team. You will notice that in football 11 players are out there on the pitch during a game but there are generally 30 or so players available to be picked for each game. So why do they need so many players? Why not just have 11 excellent players and just use them for every game?

In football, not all of the players can play every game, this is because of risk of injury, fatigue etc. Hence there is a large ratio of available players to people who are out there on the pitch. The same is true for shift workers. On any shift, not all of the workers will be there. In a 24/7 operation generally there would be about one fifth of the shift workers on at anytime.

Nor can the manager play his best players in most games. They need to be spread out. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that every member of the team needs to be able to play with every other team member. To do this, they need to play regularly with everyone. Otherwise you may be playing in the World Cup and hesitate at a crucial moment because you don’t know your team mates as well as you should.  

Therefore the manager doesn’t choose to have the best players in every game, his aim is to have a consistent level of skill to ensure that the team scores better over the season than if you had all of your best players in every games.

The same is true for shift working. First, everyone needs to work with, and be familiar with, everyone else to ensure continuity of service and work. Second, each shift should have a good distribution of skill, so that the most skilled are not all in one team and the least skilled in another.

This is because you will make more money through a consistent level of service, than a random service, depending on which shift is scheduled to be on.

Third, everyone has holidays, everyone gets sick. When this happens, you don’t want the operation to suffer. Especially as it will be a frequent problem. So make sure that all of the shift workers can work together, just like a premier football team, to ensures the best operation possible.

If you would like to know more about improving your shift operation, please contact us today.


Holiday Management

Wednesday, 13 June 2018 14:56

Holidays are very important to everyone. They are not just about time off, they are about time with family and friends, and about having control over one's life. Because holidays are so important, they need to be managed, and managed well.


When we talk about managing holidays, you need to think about continuity of operations, so that the work is not affected by the absence. You also need to think about equality and fairness. So that everyone has an equal chance of taking good quality time off.

When it comes to managing holidays, there are two solutions. The most common is to create a holiday management plan. So first you need to ask yourself how will you cover for holidays? Will you run short, will you bring people in, will you use overtime? Then you can work out how many people you can allow off at any time. Then you will know when you can grant a holiday request, when you can deny a request and most important, when you need to push people to take their holidays. A typical example could be “first come first served with up three people allowed off on any shift”.

The alternative to a holiday management plan, is that you create a holidays included operation. This is where all of the holidays are planned in advance and scheduled for everybody. This results in a planned approach to holidays where everyone is rostered off in turn. The main advantage that everybody gets guaranteed time off. Both employees and managers have to exert zero effort in order to get good quality time off for everyone. A good example of this is teachers who have their holidays in school holidays and they can't take holidays at any other time. This way they take their holidays when they are not needed.

If you would like to know more about how to manage holidays then we have an ebook Holiday Management available from Amazon and another ebook on Holidays Included also available from Amazon. We also have a video about Holiday Management.

Or you can contact us directly and discuss how you would like your operation to run in the future.

We have created holiday management plans for companies around the world. Why not improve your operation and efficiency by seeing if your current operation needs a new holiday management plan?


Ryanair's Holiday Problem

Tuesday, 19 September 2017 15:14

If you are one of the many passengers affected by Ryanair’s pilot holiday problems, you may be wondering how a big company like Ryanair can have messed up. However, many companies do not have any control over holidays. And the bigger the company is the worse it is. If you think about how holidays are controlled in your own company, would you consider that they made sure that every person took their full holiday entitlement each year?

If everyone isn’t forced to take their holiday in a controlled manner than situations like Ryanair having to cancel lots of fights will happen again and again. That is because the majority of people are disorganized and like to take their holidays at a time that is convenient to them and not to the company.


So, if your company is worried about holidays what can you do about it?

Most managers don’t have a clue how to manage holidays. That is because nobody teaches them about holiday. So they make it up as they go along. Which for the majority is fine, as Ryanair said after 1st November the problem goes away because of the lighter workload.

However, as an efficiency expert, I am horrified at that response. That tells me that they have no holiday management plans in place and they are current over staffing at the wrong times. Which is stupid, they are an airline company. They know what their workload is because (and this is a very big reason) they set the schedule. They say how many planes they are going to fly, when and where months in advance. This means that they can plan their staff according. They have all the data, they can run a more efficient and cost-effective operation so easily and then either make more profit or lower their prices even more.

At the end of the day if you want to reduce your cost significantly, you need to reorganise your staff. It really is that simple. I can go in to a company, assess their workload, then set up a rota that will match the operation. At the same time, I set up holiday management plans, absence plans and training systems. This means that you end up with a low-cost solution that works.

So if you want to give a consistent level of service, have a holiday management plan.

If you want to reduce your costs, have a holiday management plan.

If you want your people to be where, you want them, when you want them, then have a holiday management plan.

It really is that simple. Here is my book: Holiday Management



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