Rostering (Shift Planning). The company might know how many resources it needs, but what shift patterns and working hours should it use to provide the optimal coverage to its customers? What is the best policy and process for building rosters for any shift, for weeks and months into the future? Accordingly, the shift patterns are calculated and the shifts are staffed several weeks, or even months, ahead of the day of service.
The idea is for service manager to know how many resources are working for what hours on which shift pattern. Shift patterns may not change frequently but the resources on each shift do, and managers have to ensure they have enough resources working on each shift to deliver the expected level of service to their customers.
Tactical resource planning. Before planning the shifts for given dates, service managers must ensure that their resources are available to work (taking into account planned vacations or training). At this time, they are making minor adjustments to cover any gaps; for example, adjusting the level of subcontractor usage, or approved overtime to accommodate recent updates in the expected workload.
Capacity planning. Long before tactical resource planning, based on a forecasted workload the company must determine the size and the mix of skills in each territory or service area to ensure it has enough resources and skills to meet the expected level of demand, service level agreements (SLAs), and plans. The company also needs to consider other options that its business may have that could affect service delivery such as the launch of a new product or service to customers. At this stage, decision-makers have sufficient time to make decisions that change their capacity, such as hiring, training, contracting, or even laying off resources if business is declining.
Demand forecasting. For all of the aforementioned activities to happen, the company must start at the beginning with its demand forecast answering the important questions about how busy the company will be in the future (next month, quarter, or years ahead), taking into account historical trends, seasonality, cycles, and new business initiatives. Without a forecast, everything else in the service chain decision-making process is a wild and uneducated guess.
Enterprises must have a reasonable prediction of future demand so that they can accurately plan their resources and address any gaps. Management should discern what marketing or business initiatives are likely to produce more (or less) demand.