Updated: Nov 22
It is no secret that manual shift scheduling can be laborious, especially for roster planners and planning managers. With so many Air Traffic Controllers to track and many shifts to plan, it can be easy for roster planners to get overwhelmed and make mistakes. This is why rostering automation solutions can become valuable tools for working less with more.
With a rostering automation platform, ANSPs can save money in the long run and can create better working environments by ensuring that Air Traffic Controllers are scheduled for the right shifts that fit their availability and skillset.
Moving from manual scheduling to rostering automation is a challenging process. It takes time and comprehensive analysis, but what factors and steps must ANSPs consider when choosing the right rostering platform?
First step: what are the ANSP's needs?
Let's say you are responsible for the acquisition, so let's dive into the first step.
The first step in selecting the right platform for your ANSP is collecting data from roster managers and Air Traffic Controllers. This data will help to identify the challenges they face and the pain points with the current rostering process. By understanding these issues, you select a platform that solves these problems. Also, different questions can be asked to find the real needs and matters of the rostering process. Questions like:
Do you want to create a more balanced roster that considers ATCOs' preferences, licenses, availability, and shift patterns?
Do the air traffic controllers need to shift-swap easier with other available colleagues who have the same skillset as them with one click?
Does the ANSP need a dynamic real-time adjustment platform that adapts daily positioning to real-time disruptions?
Does the platform support the ANSP in fatigue management?
Getting answers to these questions and acknowledging the aspects you need to consider to improve the automated platform is crucial. After you gather all the required information, you can go to the next phase - research the market.
Second step: Research the market
Once you've researched the market and found some platforms that solve all or most of your challenges, you need to consider other essential factors. One of those factors is the product's target audience; is it specific to a niche market, or is it broad and useful for all industries? The niche aspect can make a big difference. For example, a platform like SkyRoster is aimed explicitly at Air Traffic Controllers and has been developed with the help of specialists who are familiar with ANSP rostering issues.
Evaluate what else the platform's provider offers in addition to the platform, like if they can assist and guide you through the process, if there can be any tweaks made, or if the platform can be tailored to your needs. Some standard products and others offer the capability to be customized. For example, a platform that can be customized can help you stand out from other ANSPs.
The price is another crucial aspect to consider in the research phase. You can compare different platforms' prices and see which offers more value while staying within your budget. Of course, manual scheduling may seem like a cheaper option, but it is not in the long run. You'll waste a lot of time and money, and it's important to calculate the approximate Return on Investment (ROI) for the rostering process. Regarding this matter, you can use our free ROI Calculator to find the estimated economies.
The aforementioned common factors can help you make a well-rounded and informed decision, but you can feel free to set other criteria specific to your ANSP. All of these factors together will help you move to the next step.
Third step: Shortlist and the decision
After considering all the criteria, choose three platforms that satisfy your needs and test them. It’s essential to try and see which one is the most suitable for your ANSP.
It is good to involve all stakeholders in this testing process: from ATCOs and their managers to unions, fatigue management experts and your HR). This way, you can get a variety of perspectives and opinions on which platform is the best. Plus, testing the platforms thoroughly will give you a good idea of which one will work best for your specific needs.
Shortlisting in tandem with testing allows you to compile the essential information to arrive at the feedback phase and, ultimately, the desired outcome. After weighing the pros and cons, the final decision can be made.
We have tried to present this process as simply and briefly as possible and to merge several steps into one, as step three was. However, those mentioned earlier are crucial to consider when choosing a rostering platform, but bringing in a specialist to help you navigate the process is also valuable.
Schedule a call with one of our Rostering Automation specialists if you need to be guided in the selection process.