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The benefits and drawbacks of self-assignment vs. dispatching

Choosing between self-assignment and dispatching

There are two primary ways that your workers are assigned work in Cerb5:

  1. Self-assignment: Workers look through the unassigned tickets in their groups and proactively take ownership of issues that they know how to resolve.

    • Pros:
      • Suitability: Workers know their own strengths and limitations. They're unlikely to assign work to themselves that they are not capable of completing. The estimates you get here will probably be the most accurate.
      • Flexibility: In teams with many responsibilities, self-assignment permits workers to take work according to their availability at any given moment. Otherwise, if work is assigned to someone who is busy doing something else then customers end up waiting for a response until their issue is reassigned.
      • Autonomy: With self-assignment you know that workers have volunteered for all of their assignments. This should result in a higher degree of confidence that assigned work has been acknowledged and will be completed.
    • Cons:
      • Redundancy: Several workers are likely looking at the same lists of unassigned tickets in order to find the next thing to work on. They each have to read the same issues and make a decision about suitability.
      • Frustration: Without a dispatcher, more than one worker may decide to work on the same issue, only to realize that someone else is already in the middle of writing a reply on it.
      • Parkinson's Law: This adage states that "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion." Cynically, with self-assignment it is possible for someone to monopolize all the simplest issues and then slowly work on them throughout the day. In a dispatching environment there is more incentive for a worker to quickly resolve issues because assignments will pile up otherwise.
  2. Dispatching: One or more workers are designated as dispatchers, and their job is to read incoming issues and route them to workers who are capable of completing them.

    • Pros:
      • Efficiency: Each new issue only needs to be reviewed once by a single dispatcher. There is a higher degree of motion economy because workers don't need to spend a large part of their time searching for things to work on.
      • Oversight: Good dispatchers stay informed about the progress on the assignments they have made instead of "firing and forgetting". This accountability has the potential to produce improved worker productivity compared to self-assignment.
      • Procedure: A single dispatcher can act as a gatekeeper to verify that clients are entitled to support, and to negotiate with clients about billing arrangements and rates when applicable. In this scenario, a dispatcher approves everything before workers spend any time working on issues.
    • Cons:
      • Intermediaries: A dispatcher needs to be keenly aware of the skills and schedules of the workers they are routing work to, or they risk creating a situation that is more convoluted than if the responsibility for assignment was left to the workers themselves.
      • Dependency: When workers rely on assignments from a dispatcher, work isn't getting done unless a dispatcher is available.
      • Time vs. Value: Dedicating a worker to acting as a dispatcher takes them away from more productive work. You can automate tasks like checking support eligibility and routing issues to the appropriate workers.
    • Resources:

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