Blog Article:
What is Automated Shift Planning?

Article written by Thomas Aagaard,
Head of Business Development at PDC.

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Business development manager of workforce management solutions



What is Automatic?

And What is an Automated 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. The combinations in this scenario would be:


Automatic roster generation with PDC Plan


Obviously, not all the 3.34 * 10667 combinations are useful, but it is within this search space, the automated shift planning algorithm must find the combination where:

  • employee norm hours are utilized best possible
  • the company’s production demands are accommodated
  • the plans are in accordance with union agreements and work time legislation
  • highest possible number of employee preferences are met
  • the company has the lowest possible salary expenses

Finding the most optimal solution out of a countless number of combinations is what we at PDC associate with automated shift planning. That is exactly what the software suite PDC Plan helps our customers achieve!

As a curiosity it can be mentioned that science believes that the finite number of hydrogen atoms in the observable part of the universe amounts to 1082 – another gigantic number with 82 digits but substantially smaller than the number of shift combinations which PDC’s algorithm for automated shift planning handles for you.

Thomas Aagard,
Head of Business Development

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