Automated Planning and Optimisation

When is it automated?
And what is an automated shift plan?


The definition of automated shift planning is not as clear as you might think – some interpretations are simpler than others.

Many systems roll out a plan based on a template. It is “automated” but only to be considered as an advanced form of copy/paste as in an Excel spreadsheet. Other systems include employees’ shift preferences based on the “first come, first served” principle. This is also “automated” but not very advanced nor with satisfying results.

Let below example illustrate how advanced automation solves a common (but difficult) task – in an intelligent manner:

Imagine having to make shift plans for 30 employees. 500 shifts must be assigned within a month. There are both part-time and full-time employees and they have different preferences for when they would like to work.


Click here and read what “automated shift planning” and the total number of hydrogen atoms in the Universe have in common? 


It is a difficult task to prepare Work Plans that distribute available Employees in the most productive way. A human Planner simply cannot go through all of them to find the best possible plan. The task is further complicated when Work and Labour Regulations, Employee preferences, production demands, etc. have to be taken into account.

Finding the most optimal solution out of a countless number of combinations is what we at PDC associate with automated shift planning. This is where one of the PDC’s strengths lies. We consist of a team of specialists who are skilled at optimisation techniques, and we also know what to do when combining such techniques with our clients’ domain-specific knowledge.


Define your Staffing needs and planning rules and PDC Plan will take care of the rest. Every month, thousands of Employees’ Schedules and assignments are prepared automatically.


The automation can have different perspectives in addition to dealing with legal matters, skills and employment requirements. To the extent that, for example, Employees’ preferences for shifts and absences are taken into account, the automation can contribute to a fair distribution of popular and unpopular shifts between Employees.

In other situations, for example, for divorce parents, individual considerations and great flexibility are needed. Here you can exclude people from the automated planning and instead have them included in fixed Schedules. It provides predictability and stability for these Employees, which increases their overall job satisfaction.

In addition, a stable and controlled communication e.g. using a chat between Employees and Planner covers the needs of each Employee and helps the Planner to work out the best possible Plan.

Automated Scheduling rarely ends in a 100% complete Plan. Usually, there is a need for a final manual process where the Planner gets the details in place. Subsequently, the Shift Plans are published to the Employees and made available on mobile devices. It is convenient and effective for the individual Employee, who always has the latest updated version of his/her Schedule at hand when planning the remainder of their lives.

The sections on “Scheduling and Dispatch” and “Demand Driven Planning” describe how automation is incorporated into other parts of the workflow.

Thomas Aagard,
Head of Business Development