Volume. 34, Number 5, September–October 2004, pp. 367–376 issn 0092-2102 eissn 1526-551X '04 3405 0367


doi 10. 1287/inte. 1040. 0097 © 2005 INFORMS

Enhancing Volunteer Scheduling for the Edmonton People Festival Teachers of Education, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2G5, lynn. [email protected] ca University of Business, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2R6, erhan. [email protected] ca

Lynn Gordon Erhan Erkut

The annual Edmonton Folk Music Festival is usually run nearly entirely simply by its one particular, 800 volunteers. While people are usually enticed into helping out for the folk tillst?llning by perks, such as totally free access to the entertainment, fine meals, and T-shirts, all their willingness to return year after year depends on an intangible degree of satisfaction. In planting season 2003, a crew planner sought to automate the scheduling process for his crew of around 35 volunteers to save some to accommodate volunteers' preferences when ever possible. We all developed a spreadsheet-based decisionsupport tool that generated switch times, slated volunteers in respect to various limitations and preferences, and produced master and individual plans. Key words: programming: linear; company studies: employees. History: This kind of paper was refereed.


he Edmonton Folk Festivity is a four-day outdoor celebration that has been kept annually seeing that 1980 ( In 2002, 15, 000 people joined the afternoon workshops as well as the evening main-stage performances showcasing local designers and internationally renowned musicians. With simply a handful of paid staff, the event's success and longevity are due to its volunteers. In 2002, 1, 800 volunteers worked on 35 crews (for case in point, gate, kitchen, and security) contributing above 50, 500 volunteer hours. In return for their very own hours of service, the festival offers volunteers free admission, Tee shirts, and dishes. Edmonton, generally known as " the location of Celebrations, ” owners over a dozen festivals and major sports during the summer. In a city with a population of 670, 000, competition for volunteers is fierce. Attracting new recruits and maintaining it is veteran volunteers from year upon year is essential to the operation with the folk fest. Crew coordinators schedule the volunteers, attend organizational gatherings, and regulate their crews. We target only in gate-crew booking of 40 to forty volunteers. In previous years, the two volunteer coordinators in the gate staff used a trial-and-error, paper-and-pencil procedure to formulate a set of changes for door operation within the four-day event and assigned volunteers to these alterations according to constraints, just like maximum hours per volunteer. Shifts got specified begin and end times and were of varying extent. Coordinators used overlapping shifts to deal with surges in presence during optimum hours. 367

The final schedule given to volunteers detailed the pair of shifts over the four days and nights and the volunteers assigned to each shift. Drawing up the plan was frustrating and aggravating. Minor alterations often triggered major revisions and numerous breezes. Even when the coordinators finished a final draft of their schedules, we were holding always doubtful whether they had accounted for all of the constraints. All their only way of checking was to painstakingly feel the schedules personally to ensure that that they had scheduled all of the volunteers for the best number of hours and that simply no volunteers' shifts conflicted. Both gatecrew planners estimated the hours necessary for scheduling equaled the several hours required for almost all their other tasks. To reduce time they used on this twelve-monthly chore, one of many coordinators sought our assistance in robotizing the booking process. The festival got no cash for buying arranging software; even if it had, the conventional software programs will be unlikely to deal with the many restrictions and volunteer preferences. In April 2003, the manager asked the University of Alberta Institution of...


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