A US Department of Transportation study, The Transportation Management Center Staffing and Scheduling for Day-to-Day Operations, provides managers, supervisors, human resource personnel, and private contractors with valuable insights for Transportation Management Center (TMC) staffing and scheduling decisions. The study addresses the concepts, methods, processes, tasks, techniques, and other issues related to work analysis, scheduling, and staff planning. Several methods for analyzing aspects of work are covered, including job analysis, workload analysis, and demand analysis. General scheduling practices, issues associated with shiftwork, and methods on how to create a staffing plan and planning for emergencies are also discussed.
TMCs provide a public service to communities with traffic management needs. Traffic management helps to safeguard travelers by reducing the number of accidents and coordinating emergency responses to incidents within a service area. In the service industry, employees are often the most critical element in the delivery of the service. In order to take the most advantage of TMC employees, scheduling techniques should be tailored to the meet the scheduling needs of the TMC.
- Do not discount the power of manual scheduling. Although computer programs use algorithms to generate "optimal" schedules, most schedules are developed by hand. Schedules developed manually often offer more flexibility, but can take a lot of time to complete.
- Use scheduling software for complex situations. Scheduling software offers automated and, in some cases, improved scheduling decisions. If generating a schedule requires a lot of time and staffing costs represent a high percentage of the budget, then the potential benefits of scheduling software may sound appealing. However, to realize the full benefits of scheduling software requires planning to determine the software requirements and if the software requirements can be met within a given budget. Manual methods remain prevalent because they are more flexible in terms of generating and modifying a complex schedule. On the other hand, scheduling software can efficiently process more variables simultaneously than a human scheduler. Selection of scheduling software should depend on the needs and situation of the TMC. As vendors of scheduling software are, most likely, not familiar with TMC operations, the determination of software requirements is imperative. Never accept software that is less than satisfactory. Once the product is accepted, the TMC loses leverage to request modifications to resolve existing and future problems.
Depending on the scheduling needs of each TMC, either manual scheduling or scheduling with software may be more appropriate or more efficient. Manual scheduling can offer increased flexibility for the scheduler, but may take more time to create. It may be advantageous to use scheduling software when dealing with more complex scheduling needs.