The Metro subway ride from DC Public Schools to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (DCCC) was slick, excepting only that the fare system is a little too complex.  I ride the bus in 4 days a week at home, as does most of the Shiftboard crew.  So I take a critical look at other city’s public transit systems.  DC has nothing to be ashamed of (although our new Seattle light rail trains purr like kittens compared to the DC Metro trains).

At the convention center, I met up with a number of good folks who run the Centerplate food and beverage operation.  Centerplate DCCC has been a customer for just about a year now.  They put our system through its paces.  I love to see it.

–Managers complete their “schedule requests” right in Shiftboard templates.  This used to be a completely non-standard process via email in all different formats.

–Their scheduling team, led by Patrick Thelwell, loads all the schedule requests, and Shiftboard auto-assigns all their shifts based on union seniority.  No one is auto-assigned any overtime shifts or double-booked.  Additional shifts are assigned to temp agencies.

–Each person in the system has an assigned paycode or individual hourly rate, so the controller Curtis McDonald and his team can look out 2-3 weeks to see a very accurate labor cost forecast based on exactly how many folks are scheduled by department.

–Our system interfaces with their Attendance Enterprise (AE) time tracking system, so all schedules can be immediately compared to actuals.  Curtis calls Shiftboard and AE to key “controls” they employ to manage to the numbers.

Near the end of the day, I sat down with the GM Vince McPhail.  As with any good customer, he and Curtis always have a couple of requested enhancements, and we aim to please.  But it sure feels good to see an operation like his that not only produces a great finished product in terms of culinary delights for national and international events, but also uses systems like ours and AE to run the business by numbers and manage the P&L carefully.

Heck of a day.  By the time I made it through security at Reagan National, I was exhausted.  The only downer of my DC tour, not a bar stool open in the terminal.  I could have used one beer to wind it up, but still a very positive visit.  Some things are going right in DC.