Understanding the auto-scheduler

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Ministry Scheduler Pro's scheduling 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 they will be scheduled for more total services. Rather the volunteer’s total services will be split among all of their 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 their total load and not affect the volunteer’s load in any of their 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.
  • The scheduling engine automatically remembers information about previous schedules (called "historical scheduling information"). If a volunteer is scheduled less than they 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 they have recently been serving more than their 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.
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