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.
The efficient operation of a TMC depends on the effective management of human resources. Staffing plans prescribe human resource activities, such as succession planning and training programs, to handle potential operational or organizational uncertainties (e.g., expansion of TMC services) and existing human resource needs (e.g., TMC manager retires, sudden incorporation of new technology). Past developments in staff planning and scheduling systems used to support the day-to-day operations of TMCs have been limited. The above referenced US DOT study (see Background) provides guidance for TMCs to plan for future staffing needs by creating demand, supply, gap, and solution analyses to support the staffing plan and conducting evaluations to ensure the continued success of the staffing plan.
- Determine an appropriate planning horizon. Similar to generating a schedule, the planning horizon must be considered in terms of operational and organizational uncertainties. The planning horizon is determined by a judgment of how far into the future predictions can be made, with some acceptable level of uncertainty. Typically, staffing plans include a variety of planning horizons, with some immediate concerns addressed more quickly (e.g., within 1 year), and others over the long term. The length of the planning horizon should provide enough time to perform the action items of the plan. Often organizations find that a 5 year planning horizon is necessary to provide enough lead time to perform the recruitment, selection, training, etc. action items of the plan. However, the planning horizon determines the detail to which a staffing plan can be written. More detailed planning can go into more immediate items, and more general plans with contingencies for environmental uncertainties can be used for long-term planning. Plans are usually updated annually or after a substantial change occurs within an organization, such as a reorganization.
- Create a staffing plan for different sections of an organization. Staffing plans should not cover an entire organization. Different sections of an organization merit different levels of planning and analysis; some may not merit any planning or analysis. For example, jobs that can be filled quickly with known resources do not require staff planning. Staff planning efforts should only be focused on those areas of the organization that require advance planning (e.g., jobs that are critical to the organization, jobs that are difficult to staff). Parts of the organization that undergo change may require staff planning or a revision of an older staffing plan. For example, the introduction of ITS may require the identification of new recruitment sources to find employees with the appropriate set of skills to manage the technology. The purpose of focusing planning efforts on key human resources is to ensure that staff planning resources are used where they are needed most and will have the most impact.
- Include the following types of information in staffing plans.
- Budget information
- Classification information
- Compensation and benefits information
- Demographic data
- Diversity issues
- Labor market analyses
- Recruiting sources
- Job analysis information (e.g., employee knowledge, skills, and abilities)
- Performance data and evaluations
- Redeployment plans
- Retention data
- Retirement plans
- Selection and staffing information
- Succession planning information
- Training and development information
- Turnover data
- Work/life balance issues
- Create a demand analysis to attempt to account for any changes in work, workload, or functions supported by the TMC. The purpose of a demand analysis, in the context of long-term staff planning, is to forecast future staffing needs that will be required to operate and fulfill the mission of the organization. Demand analysis predicts the number of employees required to fill different positions throughout the organization and the characteristics the employees need to successfully perform in those positions. Predictions should also attempt to account for any changes in work, workload, or functions supported by the TMC. For example, if ITS is going to be introduced at a TMC in the next five years, then existing employees may need to be trained or new employees hired to operate and maintain the ITS, and fewer employees may be required if the ITS adds a level of automation.
- Typically, short-range analyses are driven by budgetary constraints and the budget is driven by some prediction about future workloads. Quantitative methods such as conversion ratios, demand estimate models, and regression models are often used for long-range estimates. Subjective methods such as unit forecasting (bottom-up approach) and top-down forecasting (driven by the judgment of senior-level managers) are also used in demand analysis.
- Use supply analysis to identify the number of employees in each job, the knowledge, skills, and abilities possessed by those employees, and the characteristics of hiring sources. Supply analysis involves an audit of human resources within the organization (i.e., internal sources) and potential sources outside of the organization (i.e., external sources). Supply analysis should be conducted in the present, and projected into the future over a selected planning horizon. The results from a supply analysis provide a baseline from which the results of the demand analysis can be compared. The purpose of supply analysis is to determine whether sources of human resources will fall short of, meet, or exceed demand in terms of the number of employees required and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required. For example, the introduction of ITS may increase the automation of TMC functions, which would reduce the number of employees required, but also increase the level of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed by the remaining employees. Table 7.1 in the Transportation Management Center Staffing and Scheduling for Day-to-Day Operations (see Source) shows useful examples of staffing levels.
- Conduct a gap analysis to reconcile the differences between the demand analysis results and the supply analysis results. The results of a gap analysis identify the differences between staff characteristics (i.e., the number and characteristics of the employees) and the projected future needs. If the supply equals the projected demand, then no staffing changes are necessary. On the other hand, the number of personnel and the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities may fail to meet future needs when demand exceeds supply (i.e., a gap). Conversely, the number and characteristics of the workforce may exceed future needs when supply exceeds demand (i.e., a surplus). Gaps and surpluses are mitigated through solution analysis.
- Perform a solution analysis to formulate ways of closing gaps or reducing surpluses. Solution analysis takes into account the information gathered from the demand analysis and supply analysis in an attempt to address the information yielded from the gap analysis. The trade-off between the benefits and the costs of potential strategies must be weighed. Solution analysis involves general planning to take action if certain conditions occur, and/or plans to take more immediate actions to reconcile the gap analysis results.
- Predict future TMC staffing needs. The core of a staffing plan includes the prediction of human resource needs and demands in the future, an assessment of human resource availability, the differences between supply and demand, and the methods for reconciling the differences. Staffing forecasts rely on data collection, analysis, and judgment. The assessment of the workforce includes a count of the number of employees in each job and the characteristics or knowledge, skills, and abilities of each employee. Future needs may be forecasted based on projected attrition rates, potential recruitment sources, hiring strategies, etc. Often, the data collected for a staffing plan is incomplete, but is still suitable for use to devise staffing plans and strategies. Attempting to collect more data at great effort and expense should be avoided in favor of using existing data to the fullest extent possible.
Staffing plans are driven by the strategy of the organization. Conducting demand, supply, gap, and solution analyses and following up with continuous evaluations all contribute to the success of a TMC staffing plan. Demand analyses facilitate the forecasting of future staffing needs, supply analyses provide a baseline from which the results of the demand analysis can be compared, gap analyses identify the differences between staff characteristics and the projected future needs, and solution analyses attempt to address the information yielded from the gap analysis. The comprehensive level of analyses discussed here is recommended in order to ensure the continued success of the staffing plan and to help predict future staffing needs.