The next time you go to Burger King or Verkkokauppa.com and can easily find a salesperson who has the time to help you, you have an idea of how the workforce is organized optimally. In this blog article Antti Alakiikonen, our Director of Engineering, talks about the solution RELEX’s team is developing for workforce optimization and management.
Our rapidly growing team – now 30 developers – has built tailored algorithms and heuristics for optimizing schedules and matching the shifts with the actual workload well in advance.
“It also makes the lives of our customer’s employees better and easier to plan for the long haul. That’s something we think about often in our team”, says Antti.
The pragmatic AI takes the staff’s know-how, employee contracts, availability, and preferences into account. The app enables shift planners to test what-if scenarios and react quickly to changes helping to identify the risk of costly overstaffing or burdensome understaffing. As a result, the ideal number of staff generates a good customer experience at the shop while ensuring employees are not overly busy or idling.
Continuous delivery makes the added value available in a fast cycle
Workforce optimization is one of the functions in our unified Living Retail Platform. With the Workforce optimization and management solution as a part of the platform, our customers can optimize not only their supply chain and retail space but also workforce planning in one platform.
From a software engineer’s perspective, working with RELEX’s Workforce optimization and management solution is an exciting challenge as you get to influence the development work, your own work is of great importance, and all things are not yet completely locked. The business requirements vary for the different solutions, and the Workforce optimization and management solution also has slightly different technology choices than the others.
“The culture in the development team is quite unique: we have the resources and muscles of a bigger company but are still able to keep the freedom and responsibility of a startup-like culture. Anyway, I would describe RELEX as one culture – there are hardly any cultural differences between the teams working on the different applications”, says Antti.
“As we are still in the early stage with the Workforce optimization and management solution, we have a lot of plans to develop it further. As a team, we also tend to have one thing in common: enjoying constant improvements and moving forward, be it something small or big on impact”, Antti says with a smile.
We use the continuous delivery model – we deploy small improvements to the application often and regularly. This way, the added value generated by developers is made available to customers in a fast cycle.
Growing the most sought-after skills in the industry
The pragmatic AI and self-built algorithms of the solution deliver schedule optimizations at speeds unmatched on the market. It is built using modern technologies such as Azure, Kubernetes, Typescript, and React, so as a developer, you get to grow the most in-demand skills of the industry.
“Our solution is based on a cloud-native microservice architecture, and it allows us to use the tools and languages that best suit the need. One of our main backends uses the Elixir programming language and the Phoenix Framework, for example. These are not so common in the market, while they are extremely reliable and interesting to develop”, Antti says.
In fact, working in our team increases your market value as a software development professional in many ways. For one thing, you get to stay at the forefront of new tech as we aim to make sure of always having the latest versions of the technologies at our disposal.
“You also get to learn a lot about the product development process. We work closely together in full-stack teams, so your UX, frontend, and backend skills are guaranteed to grow”, he adds.
Stop stupid things – Focus on the essentials
”It is essential for us to keep doing things sensibly and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy when we grow as a team. We like it simple: focusing on the essentials. For example, if there are tasks that seem to be repeated the same way over and over again, we’ll automate them,” Antti describes.
Antti says that it’s great to work with people with the same ambition and professional pride. The mentality of continuous improvement is deeply rooted in the team’s ways of working.
“We like to help each other, and we are good friends outside of work as well. Some of us play Factorio together”, Antti smiles.
Who wouldn’t want to do a sensible job with brilliant colleagues? Some of our teammates have become our colleagues through other’s recommendations. It tells a lot about your job satisfaction if you are willing to recommend your workplace to a friend, right?