Rota Creation Tool

Last updated by Andrew Treadwell on July 23, 2020 12:42


The rota management tool allows you to easily plan and populate rotas using your staff availability and skills to meet your staffing requirements.

Templates contain the times, skills and tasks that you need for that template. They can also contain named individuals or unassigned shifts but the majority of the templates will be for shifts that the rota tool will assign to staff members.

Once you have a template, you use the rota schedule tool to plot your templates onto the calcular. You can repeat templates as many times as you need and you can combine different templates on the same day. For example, you might have a weekday template which is the same every week day and then also have a Friday afternoon template that you add just on Fridays to give you some extra staff. Both the weekday template and the Friday template will be combined when scheduling that day.

Once this is all scheduled then you will preview the shifts. The system will then attempt to fill your entire rota with staff based on their skills and availability. You are able to see the shifts and review the template at this stage. If you are happy with the plan then you can convert the preview shifts into real shifts that you can then edit as normal.

You can re-generate the preview shifts as many times as needed and each time might generate different results.

Manage Templates

You can create templates for shifts to save time when scheduling your staff members.

Creating New Templates

To create a new template, click the “Actions” button in the right corner of the menu then select “Create Template”.

There are various options:

  • Title
    What the template will be called
  • Category
    This allows you to group the templates together and only view that category
  • Venue Specific
    Templates can either be a single venue (e.g. the shifts are created in the venue that the template is added to) or they can be multi-venue (e.g. you choose in the template where the shifts will be worked).
  • Template Owner
    Where should the template sit for administration purposes
  • Share Template
    Can other venues use your template in their rotas (useful for single venue templates)
  • Quick Add
    Choose some of your most common templates that you can then quickly click and add to the rota schedule directly.

The template will be added to the list. You can either keep the template just for your current venue or allow the template to be shared to other venues.

Creating New Templates from Shifts

Rather than creating a new template from scratch, you can select to create a template from an existing shift.

Click the “Actions” button in the right corner of the menu then select “Create Template from Shifts”.

This shows you a popup that allows you to provide the new template with a name and to select the shift that you would like to convert (to select, click the “Convert” button). You are also able to choose whether you require the staff roles or the exact staff to be imported into the new template.

If you click “Convert” before you give the template a name, it will still be added to the list under the name “(untitled)”. Clicking the pencil icon on the template list will allow you to edit the name of the template.

Managing the Template

To manage your new template, or to adjust an existing template, click “Manage”.

  • Place Type
    Select whether you want to place “Certain Staff” into the rota or staff who are members of a particular team. “Certain Staff” allows you to select specific staff members to add to the rota. If you select “Members of …” then those added will be those who have this as their default rota role.
  • Staff
    This will only show if “Certain Staff” have been selected from the “Place Type” dropdown. Here you can select the staff members that you require for the shift.
  • Number of Spaces
    This will only show if “Members of …” has been selected from the “Place Type” dropdown. Select the number of spaces that you want to create from that member list.
  • Role
    Determine the role that you want to create the space for.
  • Start/End
    Select the shift times.
  • Task
    Select the appropriate task that needs to be completed during the shift by that role.
  • Fill Options
    Determine how that role is to be assigned. Equal shift spread is the most common as this will try to provide all staff with an equal number of shifts.

Once you’re happy with the information, click “Add to Template”. This will then add the information to the bottom of the template.

Keep going until you have completed your template as needed. Within the template table, you will see the details of the shifts as you have added them:

  • Staff Member/Fill From Role
    Where should the staff come from to fill this requirement. This might also state extra shifts; this means they will not be populated with specific people)
  • Shift Role
    The role that the shift will be.
  • Venue (if a multi-venue template)
    Where the shift should be worked. If this is not shown or it’s set to [schedule venue] then this is where the template has been added to on the scheduler.
  • Task
    Shift task (if assigned). You can edit this using the select boxes on the right and the bulk update options below the table.
  • D.R. 
    Default Role Only. When enabled (which is the default) then only staff who have the fill from role as their default role will be used. This means that supervisors who might have both the supervisor role and non-supervisor role will not be rota’d into the non-supervisor role.You also have the option to priorities the staff who are available with the role as their default but if you run out then use any available staff who can work in that role.
  • Split
    Enabling this option will tell the system to fill the requirement with multiple people based on the rota shift splitting rules (under your venue settings) and who is available to work. It allows for a long requirement to be entered and the system allocate them between different staff.
  • Fill Method
    Determine how that role is to be assigned. Equal shift spread is the most common as this will try to provide all staff with an equal number of shifts.
    • Random
      This will use a completely random order to choose who should work each shift. This will not provide any equal allocation or fair rotas. It’s suitable to add an element of randomness into a rota that is very repetitive. In these cases, use it on one or two rows of a template to add the random element.
    • Least Upcoming Shifts
      The staff who have the least shifts scheduled in the future will be assigned first. This won’t look at the number of hours, just the number of shifts.
    • Equal Shift Spread
      This will look at the number of hours working for the last few weeks and into the future. The system will then try to allocate the same amount of hours to all staff. This is the most common and most useful method.
    • Most Shifts Worked
      The staff who have completed the fewest shifts over the last few weeks will be assigned first.
    • Least Shifts Worked
      The staff who have completed the fewest shifts over the last few weeks will be assigned first.
    • String of Similar Shifts
      This will prioritise the staff who worked the same shift (role and times) the previous day. This is intended to help staff have a series of shifts at the same time before changing; e.g. a string of 4 nights before changing back to days. This should be used along with a Contract Restriction to prevent too many shifts being worked in a row.
    • Alphabetical (A-Z)
      Work down the list of staff alphabetically.
    • Alphabetical (Z-A)
      Work up the list of staff alphabetically.
    • Alphabetical Alt. (A-Z)
      Work down the list alphabetically, skip every other staff member. Then return and go through all of the skipped staff members. This is useful to mix teams up who often use the Alphabetical option.
    • Alphabetical Alt. (Z-A)
      Work up the list alphabetically, skip every other staff member. Then return and go through all of the skipped staff members.
  • Linked Shifts
    The chain icon allows you to add a linked shift. Linked shifts must always be worked by the same staff member so it keeps them together throughout the rota process and any future shift swapping/transfers. Read more about Linked Shifts.

To make any changes to the existing rota, check the checkbox in the row of the staff member or role that you would like to change and use the box at the bottom to adjust the start and end times, roles, and tasks, then click “Change”.

DR (Default Rota Role)

DR stands for Default Rota Role. It is an additional refinement on which staff should be used to populate the shift. With this checked, only staff that have the fill from role set as their default rota role. So only the staff who primarily work in this role rather than any staff member with the role assigned.

When disabled, the system will use any staff member with the fill from role assigned.

This also has an additional mode which is shown as a green tick with a plus (). In this mode, the rota will assign to default rota role members first. If none are available then it will expand to include all members of that role.

Automatic Split Options

The split option allows the system to split the set shift times into smaller shifts around staff availability. The settings for how the shifts are split are contained on the Venue Settings page and there you can set max & min lengths for the shifts. StaffSavvy will use the requirements in the split shifts to give out the shifts to the staff who need them most based on the fill method.

The split up option finds a staff member for the first part of the shift (based on your priority to receive shifts) and then increases the length of shift up to the maximum duration.

It is very good at providing lots of staff with different shifts and ensuring staff all receive their hours. However, by its nature, it encourages shifts to be split between multiple staff members.

The split down option allows the system to try and assign the whole shift to a single staff member and only split the shift if they cannot complete the whole shift. In this instance, the shift will be split at the point in time they can’t continue to work or at the time that means each part of the shift is at least the minimum length. The system will then search for someone to fill the remaining shift and only split it further if no one can work the remaining portion.

It’s much more suited to trying to fill the shift with the same staff member and only splitting it further if no one is available.

The split option will create different shift combinations to fill the overall staff requirement. 

Manage Schedule

This is where you can add the templates previously created to a schedule. These templates can be repeated on an ongoing basis, determined by number of days or weeks until a certain date. The templates can also be used without repeating for special or irregular events.

Select the template, date, repeat pattern, and repeat until date and then click “Add”. These will then show in the calendar below. More than one template can be added to a particular day, allowing you to build up staffing as needed.

You can choose either to schedule each venue separately or you can use the Ops Groups to manage multiple venues at once. Use the action menu to choose the ops group to manage.

If required, you can clear all templates from your schedule under the Actions menu on the month view. This allows you to start afresh.

Calendar View

This is the default view and will show you the given month in a calendar view.

You can view Event titles and cost codes on this page by using the options on the right.

It displays the templates that are assigned to each day of the month. You can click the X to remove them from the template and click the title of the template to go straight to the template to edit it.

The system will also check and warn of problems in the templates used. The warnings are displayed as red exclamation marks next to the templates affected. Hover over the icons to see the reason.

If you are viewing a venue group of values then each venue will be listed and the templates shown for those assigned that day. Event titles and cost codes can be turned on and off from the top right of the page.

List View

Use the button on the left above the calendar to change to the List View.

This view is ideal to see further details about the templates or to view multiple venues at the same time. Each venue will be displayed across the top of the page.

Like the calendar view, you can toggle the display of the Event titles and cost codes using the options on the right of the page.

You are also able to enable a template details option. This will show a summary of the role requirements by shift times. It makes it easy to see how the day is scheduled.

Day View

Use the button on the left above the calendar to change to the Day View. This will show the templates across the venue/venue groups for a single day.

You can choose which day to view within the month at the top. Days in green have templates assigned to them. Days in red have event information added but no templates yet assigned.

The view allows for detailed budget information to be shown along with detailed event details if provided.

Customised Templates

If required, you can bespoke a template for a single use. This allows you to make adjustments to times or skills for one-off instance instead of creating a completely different template that you won’t use again.

To set this up, simply click on the template title on the calendar page or list page. You will see the option to bespoke the template.

This bespoke template will automatically be deleted when it’s no longer needed. You can convert the bespoke template to a real template (so it’s always available) but do this before the rota is converted as the bespoke templates will be deleted once the rotas have been published.

Preview Shifts

Once you’ve determined your schedule, you can preview the upcoming shifts. Click the “Actions” button in the right corner of the menu and select “Create Preview Shifts”.

Before the shifts are created to be previewed, you will be asked to confirm a few options.

  • Assigning Shift Order
    • Start Time (Early First)
      This option is the default and is the original method. This will assign shifts in the order they will appear on the rota. This means any unassigned shifts are more likely at the end of the day (as the early shifts are filled first).
    • Start Time (Late First)
      This will assign shifts in reverse order to how they appear on the rota. This means any unassigned shifts are more likely at the start of the day (as the later shifts are filled first).
    • Skill/Role Order
      This order will use the order of skills/roles that you have configured when creating and editing the skills/roles. This allows you to populate some skills/roles first regardless of when the shift will take place.
    • Week days first
      This will assign shifts for Mondays to Fridays first before assigning shifts for Saturday and Sunday. This means you are more likely to successfully fill shifts mid-week. It’s useful if you have more staff available on weekends as it will ensure those who can work mid-week are rota’d first.
    • Weekends First
      This will assign shifts for Saturday and Sunday first before assigning shifts for Mondays to Fridays. This means you are more likely to successfully fill shifts during the weekend. It’s useful if you have more staff available on week days as it will ensure those who can work weekends are rota’d first.
  • Prioritise Minimum Contracted Hours
    When enabled, this will temporarily ignore your fill options when creating a rota. It will automatically review all staff members eligible to work each shift in the rota. If a staff member has not yet been assigned the minimum hours then the system will attempt to assign them to that shift.Restrictions such as holiday, weekly preferences, role requirements and other shifts might prevent them from being assigned but they will remain a priority for until their contracted hours are met.Once all minimum contracted hours are met then the shifts will be assigned based on the fill options set on the template.This option can also enable Shift Shuffling.
  • Gap between shifts
    This is an additional option on top of any contracted rest periods that allows you to force the rota logic to provide additional spaces between shifts. This is useful to prevent staff working in two places within one day for example. Note: this is only for the purposes of rotating the shifts. It won’t prevent staff from taking shifts. You will need contract restrictions to enforce that rule.
  • Unable to Fill Shift
    What should the system do if it cannot find a staff member to work a shift? It can simply ignore it (and tell you), create extra shifts (which will be available for staff to take themselves) or create unassigned shifts (which you need to allocate manually).
  • Schedule Dates
    This allows you to only generate part of the rota. It’s perfect if you have scheduled several weeks or months but you want to only generate part of it at the moment. You can always generate the remaining scheduled templates later.

If you are happy to, click “Process Schedule”. You will be asked to confirm whether you would like to generate the preview at this time - as it can take some time to load.

A confirmation message will appear saying how many shifts have been created and if there were any issues in the creation of the preview. Click “Display Issues” to see more information here.

Click “View Preview” to view the new shifts. In the Summary view, this shows you the number of shifts that have been created for staff members and their total hours to be worked.

The calendar view shows you how many shifts have been assigned to which days. Clicking on the shifts link on any day will show you the shift summary for that day.

If you are happy about the shifts (staff, hours, etc.) then click the “Actions” button in the corner of the menu and select “Convert Shifts to Real Shifts”. You can confirm whether you are happy to publish the rota, and whether shift swapping is allowed (normal or locked shifts) and whether you want to hide the shifts for now.

Once happy with the information, click “Process shifts”. This will then add all of the preview shifts into the main shift management pages; Manage Shifts and Manage Shift Week.

Shift Shuffling

The system will attempt to assign all shifts in sequence. If the prioritise Meeting Contracted Hours setting is enabled, a special sequence will then be performed. The system will review if any staff member are under their contracted hours. For each of these staff members, the system then views if there are any shifts they can take from staff who have been assigned more hours than they need. When this is the case, the shift will be moved to the staff member who has not received enough hours. This process is called shuffling. It is designed to mimic the manual actions managers often do once they have created the first draft of a rota. Once all shifts have been assigned then it is easier to see which staff can give up some shifts to others to ensure minimum contracted hours are met.

These two tools should ensure that, whenever possible, staff are assigned their minimum number of hours. There are still limitations that we cannot override such as availability, availability of shifts and staff roles plus existing shifts and restrictions on working hours.

Identifying Reasons for Unfilled Shifts

The system can provide a detailed list of all staff who have the roles assigned to work a shift but cannot be assigned the shift for a particular reason.

Open up the list of unassigned/extra shifts on the preview shifts page.

Next to each shift will be a button titled Why. This will bring up the list of the staff with the right roles and access to the venue. Next to each staff member will be a red or orange bar with the reason the staff member can’t be assigned a shift.

Orange bars mean the staff member could accept the shift once the rota is published (the rota might not be able to assign it automatically). Red bars mean they would not be able to accept the shift once published either.