Scheduling Off Duty Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

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When anyone first thinks of off-duty complications, scheduling first comes to mind. Between taking requests, assigning officers, managing call-offs and making sure assignments are fair, coordinating off duty can take one person up to 10 hours a week. (Nevermind handling invoicing or payments). That’s more than a whole day!

Is your agency still managing this process using pen and paper, cumbersome calendars, or spreadsheets that need to be updated constantly?

Coordinating off-duty jobs can be so complex, it can seem more like project management than policing. Oftentimes, agencies turn to a scheduling tool that’s specific to off duty to add structure, efficiency and organization to the whole process. Moving to a tool with features like setting recurring jobs or officers, creating groups of officers and that is completely customizable makes setting up the schedule easy, flexible and easy to update if when changes occur.

What Do You Need in an Off Duty Scheduling tool?

Every agency is different and will have different specifics when it comes to scheduling needs. Here are a few of the big-picture features to look for in off-duty software:

  • Easy At the end of the day, any software is only helpful if it’s easy to learn and use. With so many robust capabilities that off-duty management requires, the software should create fewer headaches - not more.
  • Customizable Managing off-duty is more than simply setting up a shift schedule. An off-duty tool needs custom capabilities to accommodate different agency policies, hourly rates, equipment options and fees, and the ability to set recurring jobs and assignment rules. 
  • Flexible An extension of customization is flexibility. Who is responsible for coordinating the jobs? Is it outsourced or in-house? Can it be both? It’s best to have the flexibility to decide - even after the tool is implemented - to accommodate busier times or a growing and changing off-duty program. 

The link between off-duty coordination and project management

A highly effective off-duty program creates a seamless process for both the coordinator and the vendor. As a coordinator, the task can benefit from project management best practices, like clear communication with both vendors and officers as well as managing expectations and being transparent with the vendor.