This blog post was first published on our Swedish blog, and you can find the original article here (link to blog post in Swedish).
This is my dream job
Jacob started his career at Visma as a Management Trainee and now works as an Optimization Consultant in Oslo. He says that he is very passionate about this project, as he gets to work with the latest technology every day while being challenged and learning new things.
When asked why it is a fun project to work on, Jacob responds quickly: I have my dream job!
Jacob works as an Optimization Consultant at Visma in Oslo.
Automated scheduling module
Kasper is a Project Manager and gives us insight into what the project entails. Medvind WFM (link to Swedish page) is a workforce management system used for scheduling and staffing.
In larger organisations and businesses that require staffing around the clock with different skills requirements and changing needs, we often talk about the concept of critical staffing.
Scheduling is both time-consuming and complicated, and there are many aspects to consider when building the schedule. In addition to taking into account employees’ wishes and solving the puzzle of creating a coherent schedule, where the right skills are in the right place, the employer also needs to take into account elements such as collective labour agreements and ATL (the Working Time Act).
All of these components make scheduling a complex and time-consuming challenge. What Kasper and his team are working on, is to create an automatic scheduling module that, with the help of algorithms, can quickly create schedules automatically. A computer is superior to process large amounts of data and produce optimal solutions.
Kasper, Project Lead.
Getting to work with the latest technology within AI
Jacob explains that the most fun, but also most challenging, part of his work is being able to build something from the ground up:
“We work with the latest technology and are pioneers in this field, which creates a sense of moving forward–towards the future”.
Together with two other colleagues, they have developed the algorithm and the system architecture. The project is based on heuristic technology, to quickly find the best solution to the problem, in this case the scheduling challenge.
In the end, it’s not about finding as many different solutions as possible, but finding the solution that best suits the business in question. The challenge lies in creating a general code that works for all different businesses and then completing and taking into account all the needs that may be present when scheduling.
Kasper agrees and tells us that one of the biggest challenges in his role has been to identify exactly what a good schedule is, and then implement various parameters concerning this for the computer to follow.
The parameters can be both hard, that is, they must be followed at all costs, such as laws. Or they can be soft, which means that they should be followed to the extent it is possible, for example weekend work.
An optimization algorithm requires a lot of computing power every time it is run. For all customers to be able to use the algorithm simultaneously, Jacob’s team has chosen to run the algorithm in the cloud on Amazon Web Service (AWS).
Not managing the code on a server yourself is called a “serverless” framework and the advantage is that the data power is scaled automatically according to the customer’s needs, and each customer gets their parallel run of the algorithm. This way, customers are able to get fast feedback on their schedule and at the same time keep the costs of the infrastructure at a reasonable level.
Want to create as good schedules as staffing schedulers do today
The project has been ongoing throughout 2019, and has resulted in Visma currently having some pilot customers who are testing the solution and who, so far, has provided very good feedback.
The goal is for Medvind WFM to save a lot of time in Swedish hospitals, municipalities and private companies by being able to make at least as good schedules as decent staffing schedulers can today – if not better!
Both Kasper and Jacob agree that the most enjoyable thing about their job is that they get to work with state-of-the-art technology every day, and that they can see the results directly. The project allows them to contribute to a more efficient society, where many businesses can save both time and money.
Interested in working with development in Visma? Check out our Developer portal to see some of the projects we are currently working on!