Automated duty and schedule planning taking into account roster preferences

The challenge

Staff schedule planning in large organizations such as clinics is complex and as time-consuming as it is costly. Therefore, in order to optimize personnel scheduling processes for an anesthesia clinic, XITASO has developed software that enables automated, individualized and fast personnel schedule planning.

Klinikum rechts der Isar

The environment for modern high-performance medicine can hardly be better: in the middle of one of the most attractive cities in Germany, cooperating with numerous high-caliber medical and scientific institutions and integrated into the University of Excellence of the Technical University of Munich (TUM): the University Hospital, Klinikum rechts der Isar (MRI), offers ideal conditions for treating its patients at the highest level.

How we helped

Since 2015/16, the Clinic for Anesthesiology at the Klinikum rechts der Isar (MRI) has been using the flexplan personnel scheduling software. Flexplan reduces opportunity costs and increases the level of planning. The efficiency, transparency and quality of the software leads to time and cost savings and ensures increasing employee satisfaction and planning reliability. The Flexplan project resulted from a research and development cooperation between the Department of Anesthesiology at the MRI and the UNIKA-T (University Center for Health Sciences at the Augsburg Clinic), which investigated the optimization of personnel processes. XITASO as an IT service provider was responsible for the technical implementation of the research results. In the meantime, the personnel scheduling software has also been adapted and implemented in another clinic at the MRI.



Initial situation

The preparation of the rosters for the more than 150 doctors of the Clinic for Anesthesiology at the Klinikum rechts der Isar, of the Technical University of Munich was complicated, time-consuming until the cooperation with XITASO and was mostly done manually: The roster preferences of the doctors were entered in lists, which were then entered into Excel lists. Consideration had to be given not only to collective agreements such as sufficient intervals between 24-hour and late shifts, but also to the fact that each doctor should be classified according to the qualification and level of experience.

Short-term roster changes in the event of illness, as well as medium- and long-term planning of holidays and training, also had to be made possible. This form of schedule planning no longer met the growing requirements and was costly and time-consuming, which is why the Clinic was looking for an optimized solution: the best possible utilization of available human resources should be easy and quick to plan and implement with a fair and transparent consideration of the roster preferences of the doctors.

Tasks and goals

  • XITASO should develop a schedule planning software to automatically distribute the shifts based on mathematical optimization models, while taking into account the needs and qualifications of physicians.
  • The goal was to develop an easy-to-use and adaptable solution that would significantly reduce the high and challenging time and cost efforts using automated rostering. So, of course, not only the different services had to be covered, but also the individual qualifications of doctors, the training of assistant doctors, the absences and shift preferences of the employees, all had to be taken into account.


After a comprehensive requirements analysis, XITASO’s experts have created a control installation based on years of research that enables automated roster and daily schedule planning without any problems, providing enormous added value to the Department of Anesthesiology.

The Flexplan software solution enables automated roster planning, day-to-day schedule planning for the workstations, and quarterly planning that takes into account the training and further education of doctors. Unplanned and short-term absences can also be taken into account, so that the stability of the planning can always be guaranteed. The software can also take into account significantly more rules and preferences than was the case with the previous manual planning. The application for and granting of annual leave, business trips and other absences can also be managed digitally via Flexplan. All confirmations and changes to the schedules can be automatically communicated to the affected doctors by e-mail.

Due to the generic design, it is possible to adapt the software to individual customer requirements and to expand it to include appropriately desired modules. The software solution can also connect to time management systems via an interface. User rights on Flexplan can be assigned to different users or roles. The scheduler can create rosters, publish them, and administer individual users. For example, the employee can view the published schedules and express their preferences using an input mask. Employee administration also allows you to manage contracts or qualifications.

Using the intuitive user interface and computing power of the software, XITASO was able to minimize the complexity of scheduling the roster so that the planning process took only a few minutes, compared to the previous manual effort of several days. The implementation of the schedule planning software was also scientifically accompanied and evaluated by the UNIKA-T. Automation means that duty scheduling only takes about two minutes a month, and day scheduling takes about one minute a week. An acceptance study lasting more than 19 months has also shown that employee satisfaction has increased significantly since Flexplan has been used.

In this context, particular mention should be made of a fulfilment rate of 87% of roster preferences, with 99% of the requests for off-duty days being met. The advantages of the software have therefore not only benefited the hospital management, but also the schedule planners and the individual doctors.

The system has proven to be so stable, reliable and productive in the anesthesia practice of the MRI that Flexplan is now also used by the Clinic and Polyclinic for Surgery at the MRI, adapted to their special needs

The initiators of Flexplan

Flexplan was initiated by the Managing Physician of the Clinic for Anesthesiology at the MRI, apl. Prof. Dr. Manfred Blobner, who also acted as a consultant throughout the entire project. Prof. Dr. Jens Brunner, Chair of Health Care Operations/Health Information Management at the University of Augsburg and Deputy Managing Director of UNIKA-T, as well as Christopher Gross, Research Associate and PhD Student at the Chair of Health Care Operations/Health Information Management, were also involved in the project.
XITASO employees Gross and Prof. Brunner, Managing Director of XITASO Healthcare GmbH since 2016, are both proven experts in the field of personnel schedule planning for doctors and nurses. Their scientific findings have been incorporated into Flexplan at every stage of the project.

Two publications on the subject:

Other projects

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Nurgül Abdullahi

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