A Complete Guide to Scheduled Shifts in AngelTrack

A complete walkthrough of the scheduled shifts system in AngelTrack, including how it interfaces with the Dispatch and HR features

In AngelTrack, shifts can be scheduled to occur in the future, and to automatically recur.

This system is tightly integrated with dispatch, crew certificates, vehicle records, and the time clock, making it more powerful than an ordinary employee scheduler.

Getting Started

Don't worry, it's easy to book a crew in-advance.

Just go to the Shifts page, click the Add-1 icon to create a new one. Then change the start-time from "Now" to "Later", if not already selected.

As you select a start-date, start-time, and shift length, the lists of available vehicles and crew members will update to show which ones are busy (already booked) during the proposed time period. It will not allow you to double-book a vehicle, but you can double-book crew members, if they will be servicing two different vehicles at the same time.

After saving your work, you can view the new scheduled shift on the "Schedule" tab of the Shifts page. Then try switching to the "Calendar" view to see a graphical representation of each day's crew schedule.

Automatic Recurrence

Scheduled shifts can automatically recur, exactly the same way that dispatches do.

AutoReschedule

When you book a new scheduled shift, you will have the option to configure its automatic recurrence. It will then recur on that schedule, each time creating a new shift for the selected vehicle and crew.

When a scheduled shift reaches the end of its allowed recurrence, it will be deleted.

Crew patch levels for future recurrences

When viewing a scheduled shift's future recurrences, the calculation of its expected service level will utilize the crew members' certificates on file as of the date of the first recurrence. In other words, if the first recurrence is Wednesday, then a later recurrence on Friday will expect the crew members to have the same practice level as they had on Wednesday. This is necessary because crew members cannot record a future EMS certificate that they have not yet received.

Overdue Shifts

If a scheduled shift's vehicle is busy in an active shift, the scheduled shift will wait up to six hours for it to become available. While it is waiting, the scheduled shift will appear as "Pending". Any active dispatches preassigned to it will be displayed as "pending" on the Unassigned Dispatches board.

Overdue Shifts-Sep-09-2022-06-51-41-52-PM

As soon as the vehicle becomes available, i.e. as soon as the active shift ends, the scheduled shift will activate, beginning a new shift in the vehicle.

Automatic cancellation due to overdue vehicle

Scheduled shifts will wait for their vehicles to become available. However, they will automatically cancel/reschedule themselves under the following circumstances:

  • If they wait for six hours without ever getting access to the vehicle; or
  • If an active shift exists with the same vehicle, same posting station, and same first and second crew members.

Overlapping Shifts

A vehicle can only be in one active shift at a time; as mentioned just above, if a scheduled shift needs a vehicle that is already active in a shift, then the scheduled shift will be automatically postponed.

Crew members, by contrast, can be in multiple simultaneous shifts, in case they are alternating between vehicles or giving lift assists or intercepts. When creating a new shift, AngelTrack will indicate which crew members are already assigned to active and future shifts:

ScheduledShifts.crewoverlaps

Exceptions

Your recurring scheduled shifts can have exceptions -- specific dates where they are cancelled, or where a different crew is on board.

Exceptions allow you to cover holiday periods without perturbing your normal schedule. It also allows you to perform crew swaps when employees request it.

ScheduledShifts.exceptions

The exception-editor window will also show you which crew members have a scheduling conflict at the selected date and time; a "[busy]" indicator will appear by their name when they are already booked in another scheduled shift (or in one of its exceptions).

Limits of exceptions

An exception can alter the crew composition, posting details, start date, shift length, and service level override; however, it cannot alter the assigned vehicle, as every scheduled shift is pinned to a specific vehicle, lest the schedule grid become incomprehensible.

Only one exception can be recorded for any given date; if you create a second exception for a certain date, the second exception will overwrite the first. This limitation reflects the fact that a shift schedule can only recur once per calendar day.

Using an exception to implement a substitute crew member

To add to your schedule a substitute crew member on a certain date, do the following:

  1. Visit the Shifts page, switch to the "Schedule" tab, and click the relevant schedule item.
  2. In the Shift Schedule Edit page that opens, scroll down to the "Exceptions" section and click the plus sign.
  3. In the popover that opens, specify the date of the substitution, and modify the crew member dropdown for the employee in question.
  4. Click the "+ Add" link to close the popover.
  5. Click the "Save" button to save the shift schedule.
  6. If the exception you just created is the next one to occur, it will be displayed in the "Next Exception" column of the "Schedule" grid.

Using exceptions to implement a crew swap

To implement a crew swap, perform the steps for a substitute crew member two times -- once for each of the two vehicles involved.

Using an exception to implement a cancellation day

To black-out one of the days on which a shift schedule would normally recur, do the following:

  1. Visit the Shifts page, switch to the "Schedule" tab, and click the relevant schedule item.
  2. In the Shift Schedule Edit page that opens, scroll down to the "Exceptions" section and click the plus sign.
  3. In the popover that opens, specify the date to be cancelled; the hour and minute do not matter.
  4. Tick the ☑ Shift is cancelled on this date box.
  5. Click the "+ Add" link to close the popover.
  6. Click the "Save" button to save the shift schedule.
  7. If the cancellation you just created is the next one to occur, it will be displayed in the "Next Exception" column of the "Schedule" grid.

Using an exception to implement an irregular date / holiday schedule

An exception can add a date of occurrence to a shift schedule that does not normally recur on that date. For example, an exception can add a Saturday occurrence to a Monday-Friday schedule.

By adding a combination of cancellations and extra (irregular) dates, you can implement a holiday schedule without perturbing your normal recurrences.

Deleting an exception

You can delete an exception from the Scheduled Shift Edit page, which can be opened from the Shifts page's "Schedule" view or from the popup menu in the page's "Calendar" view (click any colored bar to display the popup).

Alternatively, you can one-click delete an exception directly from the calendar view, using its popup menu.

Visualizing your schedules, recurrences, and exceptions

Once you've got several recurring shift schedules configured, and some exceptions, it can be difficult to visualize the completed shift plan. To help with this, remember to use the "Calendar" tab of the Shifts page.

The calendar view automatically projects all recurrences forward in time, and their exceptions, so that what you see is exactly what you will get on that date. The calendar also has a popup menu that allows quick access to the exception editor; just click any of the colored schedule bars in the calendar to display the popup menu.

Timeclock Integration

If any of a scheduled shift's crew members are marked as ☑ Hourly or ☑ Uses the timeclock in their employee file, then AngelTrack will not activate the scheduled shift until they are clocked-in -- either as on-duty or as on-call. The Scheduled Shifts grid will indicate that this is the reason why the scheduled shift is pending.

As with overdue vehicles, if the necessary crew members are overdue for longer than six hours, or for longer than the scheduled shift was configured to last, then it will be cancelled. If it is cancelled, it will then reschedule itself if so configured.

Automatic tardy marks

If a scheduled shift has to wait more than 5 minutes to activate, then AngelTrack will check to see which of its crew members were late to clock-in. It will automatically mark any late clock-in as a major tardy (more than 20 minutes late) or a minor tardy (more than 5 minutes late) as necessary.

Weekly work hours chart

AngelTrack will assist you in planning how many work hours are assigned to each employee for the week. On the "Calendar" tab of the Shifts page is shown a chart of each employee's hours-worked for the week into which the calendar's selected date falls.

The chart shows a combination of all of the following for each employee:

  • The number of on-duty hours already on the timeclock;
  • The number of on-call hours already on the timeclock;
  • The number of hours remaining in the employee's active shift*, if any;
  • The number of hours on the schedule for the employee's future shifts, if any, including exceptions; and
  • Grand totals.

*If an employee is currently on-call, then the chart will assume that the employee will remain on-call through the end of their current active shift, if any.

The chart's work-week is calculated according to AngelTrack's timeclock settings (in Preferences), i.e., the hour and day at which the pay-period beings. The default is Sunday at midnight.

Using the Calendar

Under the Shifts page, select the "Calendar" tab to view any future date. Recurring scheduled shifts will be automatically projected forward to the selected date, so that you can see how your recurrences will populate each future day.

ScheduledShifts.calendar-1

The colored bars represent each scheduled shift that will occur or recur on that date, and if viewing the present day, then active shifts are shown too. The color of the bar indicates the service level of the vehicle plus its crew, as calculated for the relevant date and for the state in which they are posted.

Click any colored bar to open a pop-up menu with edit links.

Shift Coverage Projections

When viewing any future day on the shifts calendar, AngelTrack will calculate the day's expected call volume by analyzing the prior 90 days' worth of trip data. Each day of the week is calculated separately; i.e., a future Wednesday's customer demand is calculated at looking at the previous 90 days' worth of Wednesdays. Delegated calls are included, as these usually represent call volume that you wish you could've handled with your own vehicles.

Using that data, AngelTrack can then estimate whether you have enough vehicles scheduled to cover that volume. This analysis is shown at the bottom of the calendar, like this:

ScheduledShifts.coverage-1

AngelTrack understands that higher-level shifts can cover lower-level calls, e.g. a BLS crew can handle a wheelchair call if need be. Tick the ☑ Use higher-patched units to cover lower-patch calls where necessary checkbox to factor this in to the coverage estimates. Where the analysis then utilizes higher-patched units to cover lower-patched calls, the time segments in question will be underlined.

The analysis regards vehicles of type "Wheelchair van" or "Personal vehicle" as capable of responding to 1.5 calls at a time, provided that the vehicles are marked as having a patient capacity of 2 or more, as this represents their ability to double-load. If you never utilize double-loading, then make sure your vehicles are all marked with a patient capacity of 1.

The analysis requires at least seven data-points for each time segment of each service level, so if you have very few calls of a certain service level, the analysis will not be able to predict how many vehicles you will need; these time segments are shown with a dash character. This is in contrast to time segments where no calls whatsoever of the specified type were active during the past 90 days; these time segments are left blank.

Marking 'Inactive'

If a scheduled shift is marked "inactive," then it will not create a shift record at the appointed time. If it is configured to recur, then it will reschedule itself into the future in order to try again; otherwise, it will be deleted.

Automatic deactivation

If a supervisor deactivates a vehicle or crew member, then all scheduled shifts linked to that vehicle or crew member will be automatically deactivated. They will not be automatically reactivated if that vehicle or crew member is reactivated; this must be done manually.

When a crew member is deactivated, any exceptions that include that crew member will be automatically deleted. They will not be automatically restored if and when that crew member is later reactivated.

Starting Odometer and Fuel Level

When a scheduled shift activates, there is not the normal opportunity for a dispatcher to ask the crew for their odometer and fuel level.

You can create a policy that a dispatcher will immediately contact the crew coming on-shift, and collect their odometer and fuel level, and add this information to the newly-created shift record.

For that reason, when AngelTrack begins a new shift from a scheduled shift, it will pre-configure the starting odometer and fuel level by checking the vehicle's immediately previous shift record, if such has occurred within 24 hours. This makes it doubly important for dispatchers to collect the ending odometer and fuel level at the end of every shift.

Crew Notification

From their Crew Home page, crew members can always see all upcoming scheduled shifts to which they are assigned. They are shown in a calendar view showing projections of all recurring shifts as well as exceptions:

Upcoming shifts

Because AngelTrack is 100% in the cloud, crew members can visit their Crew Home page at any time, even from home, to check their work schedules.

Automatic one-hour reminder via SMS or email

Crew members will also receive a live message when a scheduled shift that includes them is going to activate in the next hour, if they have configured their messaging settings to be notified of upcoming shifts.

Deleting a Scheduled Shift

If a scheduled shift is marked "inactive" and is not set to recur, then AngelTrack will automatically delete it after its scheduled date passes.

If it is inactive and is set to recur, then AngelTrack will keep it, advancing its scheduled date into the future, in case you ever wish to reactivate it. To delete it, you must edit it and disable its recurrence; AngelTrack will then delete it after its scheduled date passes.

Holiday Schedules

If your shift schedules are going to temporarily change during a holiday period, there are two ways to implement it:

Method one: Disable normal schedule, create temporary schedule

  1. Book your holiday shifts in advance. If they are going to recur a few times during the holiday period, then configure their recurrence setting to end on the last day of the period.
  2. In the evening of the day before the holiday period starts, deactivate all of your normal (non-holiday) recurring shifts. AngelTrack will preserve them while they are deactivated; they will simply skip ahead until you re-activate them.
  3. In the evening of the last day of the holiday period, reactivate all of your normal schedule.

In other words, this approach works just like your holiday recurring dispatch schedules.

Method two: Using exceptions

It may be simpler to express your holiday schedule using exceptions, rather than disabling your normal schedule and writing a temporary one.

To learn how to use exceptions for this purpose, scroll up to the "Exceptions" section.

Vacations

When an employee goes on vacation, you must do all of the following:

  • Deactivate any non-recurring scheduled shifts that include the employee. To do this:
    1. Visit the Shifts page and switch to the "Schedule" tab.
    2. Find any row that does not recur and which includes the employee in question.
    3. Click the "Active" button to deactivate the item. When deactivated, it will be automatically deleted when its date arrives.
  • Add exceptions for any recurring scheduled shifts that include the employee. To do this:
    1. Switch to the "Calendar" tab.
    2. Activate the ☑ Crew includes filter to show only the items that include the person going on vacation.
    3. Move the calendar date window forward through the vacation period, checking each vacation day.
    4. If the filtered calendar shows anything during the vacation period, then left-click the shift to open its popup menu, select "Add exception", and specify an alternate crew member.

Terminations

When you deactivate an employee's record in AngelTrack, all scheduled shifts that include the employee will be automatically marked inactive. Furthermore, all exceptions that include the employee will be automatically deleted, causing the underlying scheduled shifts to revert back to their normal settings on those dates.

Likewise when you deactivate a vehicle's record.

Note that reactivating an employee or vehicle will not automatically restore their previously scheduled shifts.

Preassigning a Dispatch to a Scheduled Shift

Scheduled (future) dispatches can be preassigned to a scheduled shift, exactly the same way you would assign them to an active shift.

On the Dispatch Assignment page, AngelTrack will analyze the time interval in which the dispatch will be active (i.e. the time interval between activation and closure). It will then show you all scheduled shifts that are planned to overlap that time interval. You can then click the "Later" button to preassign the dispatch to any of them.

When a scheduled shift activates, all such preassigned dispatches that fall within its time period will be automatically assigned to it.

Flexible reassignment

You can freely reassign any dispatch to an active shift, or to a scheduled shift, or to an affiliate, or back again, as often as you like.

There is just one caveat: Any dispatch assigned to an affiliate that does not give progress reports will be automatically closed, after which it cannot be reassigned to a scheduled shift.

Preassignment to a future recurrence of a scheduled shift

You can preassign a future dispatch to a future recurrence of a scheduled shift. For example, if you have an ALS crew booked for Monday / Wednesday / Friday, you can preassign your Friday trips to that crew. When Friday arrives and the ALS crew activates again, those preassigned trips will be automatically assigned to it.

To enable this powerful functionality, the Dispatch Assignment page always shows you the projected recurrences of your entire shift schedule, letting you visualize all the units that are planned for that date, and allocating your call schedule among them.

Missed dates

If a dispatch is preassigned to a scheduled shift which does not actually activate when the appointed day comes, such as due to a cancellation, AngelTrack will automatically un-preassign the dispatch.

Tardy crews

If a dispatch is pre-assigned to a scheduled shift which is late to activate (owing to a tardy crew or an overdue vehicle), when the dispatch reaches its activation time, it will appear among the unassigned dispatches on the dispatch board, marked as "pending", like this:

ScheduledShifts.pendingdispatch

Pending dispatches can be left to wait for their assigned shifts to activate, or they can be reassigned to other active or scheduled shifts.

Auditing

To learn whether a shift record was created by a scheduled shift, open its Shift Edit page and look in the created/modified box in the upper-right corner.

If the shift record was created by a scheduled shift, this will be mentioned, and the creator name will be that of the employee who created the scheduled shift.