Suggestions wanted - How to approach scheduling optimization problem?
My company wants to improve the optimization of scheduling caregivers. We provide 4, 8, or 12 hour caregiving shifts in home care focusing on companionship, ADLs, housekeeping, etc based on what the client wants. Our caregivers provide us with availability, but they do not have a set schedule per se. They get scheduled based off of our client needs. Scheduling stable clients with set needs is fine. We struggle with scheduling new clients who need caregiving services right away. Right now, we piece meal together whatever caregivers we can find available for whatever shifts they can work - but there isn't a system to ensure the greatest continuity of care. I am not sure how to start on this problem, and I was hoping someone could point me in a good direction. 
2 Replies
Hi, Jessica.  I would start by putting together a SIPOC diagram.  In problems like this, the practitioner needs to understand the flow of information so you can develop a process on how to best use that information.  The SIPOC will help you determine what information is needed by the process to function properly and who provides that information.  The SIPOC will also provide insight on what the customer expects (both the caregiver and the patient), based on the output of the process.  There are great resources online regarding SIPOC, just in case you have not done one before.

Following the SIPOC, then put together as-is and should-be process maps, based on failure modes you have experienced and potential failure modes you identify.

If you try to put together the process maps before putting together a good SIPOC, I promise you that you will struggle.

Good luck with your endeavor.
Hi Jessica, I agree with Scott but you also want to look at some data that you may have already.   Do you have data on the frequency of onboarding new clients?  Is it a monthly cycle? quarterly cycle?  A trend chart or control chart may help you see what is going on.   Also, do you know how long it takes to onboard or even have any idea of turnaround time for new clients?  Look at what data you have to see if there is any consistency in what seems to be chaos.  This combined with the SIPOC and process maps should give you a starting point to measure improvement. 
Jim Bossert