What is Roster Optimisation and Why Would You Need It?

Lisa Spiden

Although store and restaurant managers might not consider rostering a critical task, retail and hospitality managers are pressured by business executives and finance teams to lower costs without impacting sales or customer service, all while remaining compliant to a myriad of evolving industry award rates and Fair Work Australia legislation.

Over the last decade, automated software platforms have made things easier and more efficient in scheduling staff by introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to predict necessary site coverage. 

Yet, to make a roster truly optimal in order to leverage it as a strategic lever to lower costs whilst maintaining customer experience, there are some core differences worth discussing.

In this blog, we’ll explain the key differences between an efficient automated roster and a truly optimised one, and why that’s important to the profitability of any large business.

Automated Rostering 

An automated roster uses AI and/or machine learning to design the closest to perfect roster by populating staff members at each site, and inputting key business and award rules for the software to produce each week's roster in a predictable fashion. 

Through AI and machine learning, the automated rostering software will have varying degrees of capability to provide the best possible roster based on historical data – i.e based off rosters that have been created in the past regardless of whether they are good or bad rosters. 

Through software intelligence, the rostering scheduler can predict what would work for the upcoming week based on the way things have been done in the past.

That’s a huge win for a company that has previously relied on manual rostering with excel spreadsheets, as it automates a significant part of the process and increases efficiency and predictability.

An automated roster will ensure your staff know when they’re working and that they’ve been rostered in a legally compliant way. It will also assist store and site managers to redesign and reconstruct rosters in a more automated fashion, helping to predict sales based on the weeks and months prior.

Yes, automated rostering will offer any business a leg up when it comes to meeting business rules and streamlining tasks for staff responsible for rostering. However, even the most experienced rostering and retailing staff will be limited in finding the most optimal roster that exists, because it is only taking into consideration the best roster possible based on historical data of rosters created in the past.

Optimised Rostering 

A truly mathematical optimised roster uses the smarts of automated scheduling tools that harness AI and machine learning and goes one huge step further by leveraging a very technical, specific and hard to access type of mathematics. 

An optimised roster can take all of the elements that are important to the business and calculate the most optimal roster out of an infinite number of potential rosters that are humanly not possible without the smarts of mathematical intelligence.

So how does it work?

Mathematical roster optimisation looks at the key business criteria, compliance requirements and sales goals to construct a roster that considers the entire universe of possibilities, rather than just a segment of possibilities informed by the past.

“With the right application of mathematics and the knowledge of exactly what elements are important to the business, an automated roster can be boosted into a truly optimised roster giving businesses unlimited scope of opportunity.”

- Lisa Spiden, CEO & Founder of Workforce Analytics

This kind of roster impacts every layer of the business and puts the right data in the hands of the CEO all the way to the manager on site.

The combination of optimisation maths, machine learning and AI, used in a particular way, can give a business absolute data driven insights that can save the business 10% on wages annually without impacting sales or customer satisfaction and can even increase sales.

It’s worth mentioning that no rostering system should operate in isolation of human resources that are required to assess and monitor business rules and service models to factor in changing requirements of  staff or customer experience requirements. No matter how good the technology is, you still need appropriate staff to keep a lens over the rostering process.


Whilst automated rostering can give you significant efficiency gains, a truly optimised roster will boost your automated efforts and unlock even greater potential to appropriately schedule your staff, strategically save on wage costs all while maintaining or improving customer experience. 

Roster Right allows businesses to boost profitability by leveraging roster optimisation as a strategic lever for making business critical decisions, empowering your team with the best possible rostering templates to unlock the potential of your existing automated scheduling tools. 

Want to know more about how to truly optimise your rosters?
Schedule a 1:1 discovery call below!