Commence Scheduling

Click on the Commence Scheduling button to let the automated scheduler fill in the remaining unfilled positions in the schedule. The auto-scheduler will present you with options as to which positions you would like auto-scheduled, such as all unfilled positions, or just specific ministries or service times, or a combination of both.

  • All remaining empty positions in this schedule
  • All empty positions in just particular ministries…
    Click “Continue” to specify ministries and optionally limit services, as well.
  • All empty positions except for those in special services (yearly or one-time-only)
  • All empty positions in services I select or during a time period of my choosing…
    Click “Continue” to specify services or time period.
  • All empty positions in just the selected day
    Day must be selected prior to clicking on “Auto schedule.”
  • All empty positions in just the selected service
    Service must be selected prior to clicking on “Auto schedule.”
  • The selected empty positions
    Positions must be selected prior to clicking on “Auto schedule”. Hold down Ctrl/⌘ or Shift key to select multiple positions.

In order to give you the most control over your schedule, the auto-scheduler can be run multiple times to help you out when complex situations arise. This means you can choose to run the schedule one ministry at a time, focusing on filling the most important roles first, or give priority to specific services that need to have all volunteer positions filled over other services, as needed. If you have any questions about how to best use the auto-scheduler to fit your needs, you can send in your data files (Help – Send Data Files to Tech Support) to support with a description of your end goals, and they will be happy to make recommendations to help you achieve your desired distribution.

Auto-Scheduler Behavior

The engine uses a highly sophisticated multi-pass algorithm to distribute services fairly among all of your volunteers. The way the algorithm works is very complicated, but a few important behaviors are listed here:

  • Positions in each ministry (and subdivision) are distributed fairly among all of the volunteers in that ministry. Indicating that a volunteer is qualified to serve in multiple ministries does not necessarily mean that he will be scheduled for more total services. Rather the volunteer’s total services will be split among all of his ministries. An exception to this rule is that if the “Schedule this ministry autonomously” option is turned on for a ministry, adding that ministry to a volunteer will always increase his total load and not affect the volunteer’s load in any of his other ministries.
  • Every volunteer will get a chance to serve in every ministry and subdivision for which he is qualified to serve. However, volunteers will spend the most time serving in the ministries which need them the most. You may override this behavior and indicate that each qualified volunteer should be scheduled exactly the same number of times in a particular ministry by checking the “Schedule this ministry autonomously” option for the ministry.
  • The scheduling engine automatically remembers information about previous schedules (called ‘historical’ scheduling information). If a volunteer is scheduled less than he should be during one scheduling period, this is taken into account during the next scheduling period. Likewise, the scheduling engine will remember which ministries the volunteer has not had a chance to serve in for a while, and in which ministries he has recently been serving more than his share, and will produce schedules that correct this imbalance. MSP will also recognize if you are re-scheduling a given period of time and will automatically retrieve the correct historical scheduling information for that time period.
  • The engine will continue to schedule volunteers for additional services until all positions in the schedule have been filled. In some cases, there are not enough volunteers available to complete a schedule and a service is left with unfilled positions. In such a case, you will be alerted that positions remain unfilled immediately after the schedule is generated. You may then manually select volunteers to fill the unfilled positions by clicking on the unfilled positions.

Removing Auto Scheduled Positions

In the event that you run the auto-scheduler and want to remove the assignments it makes, you can go to the Schedule menu at the top of the open schedule and select “Remove all ‘Auto’ assignments.” Choosing this option will remove every position filled by the auto-scheduler in this schedule, regardless of how many times you ran the auto-scheduler to fill the schedule. To be able to avoid this if you do run the auto-scheduler in multiple passes, we suggest using the “Save As” feature to save a separate copy of your schedule each time you use the auto-scheduler. (For example, if scheduling ushers, then communion, then music, you would auto-schedule the ushers first and make any changes and save a copy as “Ushers”, then run communion and make any changes and save a copy as “ushers and communion’ and finally run music and save the copy as “final”. This way, if the music assignments need to be redone, you can open the “ushers and communion” saved schedule so you do not lose those assignments.)

To remove only certain auto-scheduled positions, select the assignments you wish to remove in the shown day on the schedule and click the icon of the person with the red X once from the top center of the schedule window. Repeat for any other days where you need to remove the assigned positions.