METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR TUNING A
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 This invention generally relates to scheduling processes or algorithms for assigning tasks to resources of a workforce management system, and specifically to a method and system for tuning a scheduling process for assigning tasks to resources of a workforce management system, e.g. in a telecommunications network.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 In telecommunications systems extending over a wide area, installation or repair work on the network is managed via Work Requests (WRs) and is allocated to technicians (resources) who are dispatched to provide, repair or maintain telecom equipments located at customer premises, or elsewhere in the network.
 WorkForce Management (WFM) tools or systems, on the basis of the incoming WRs, run scheduling algorithms to define a work plan comprising for example, for each request, information as to the execution time, the technicians (one or more) to whom the task is assigned, the vehicle for outdoor tasks and the spare parts of probable use.
 In doing this, it is necessary to optimise a set of hard and soft constraints like resource availability, distances to be travelled, tasks priorities, technicians skills and human workload balancing, to name but a few. Furthermore, the results of the scheduling process depend on a plurality of parameters (several tens) concerning process conditions.
 WO 01/25991 describes a scheduling algorithm for assignment of tasks to resources in a WorkForce Management system. The scheduling process is controlled by a specified set of parameters, for example the number of tasks assigned to a set of resources, the total weight of the assigned tasks as determined by, e.g., the priorities of the assigned tasks, the total duration of the assigned tasks, the number of tasks that are assigned to preferred resources as determined by, e.g., the qualifications of the resources, the number of deadlines missed because of unassigned tasks and/or the total travel time for dispatching a resource to perform an assigned task.
 Although Workforce Management systems, as for example the above reported system, have reduced the difficulty for telecommunication operators in scheduling and dispatching their technicians, the systems and algorithms employed are generally difficult to customize or reconfigure to the needs of a particular organization.
 In EP 1 139 248, a solution is described that allows the selective modification of a scheduling process.
 Tasks that are to be performed by field engineers or technicians are scheduled by running a scheduler at a server under a predetermined reference set of process conditions to provide schedule data corresponding to schedules of the tasks that the individual technicians are to carry out. Inputs to obtain schedule data are task data concerning the tasks to be carried out and resource data concerning characteristics of the technicians available to carry out the tasks over a given period.
 The above scheduling process utilises a scheduling algorithm wherein process modalities are set as a function of the values of a plurality of scheduler parameters.
 According to the above document, what-if analysis can be performed by an operator, for optimising management of the scheduling algorithm. The process conditions for the scheduler can be selectively modified by the operator and the resulting modified schedule data can be displayed and analysed to determine if the scheduling can be improved by changing said conditions. The modification of the process conditions includes, for example, changing parameters data and engineers data by the operator.
 Applicant remarks that the newly calculated work plans are estimated by the operator, i.e. in a subjective way, by empirically analysing a set of statistics of the work plans calculated by the scheduler.
 Applicant remarks that an objective criterion to evaluate a new work plan doesn't exist: a work plan could be good, in order to achieve one or more targets, but unsuitable for others.
 By the way, the number of parameters controlling the work modalities of the scheduler is so high that it is impossible to exactly predict its behaviour, in presence of a specific parameters configuration.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention seeks to improve upon known solutions giving an objective criterion to evaluate newly calculated work plans in a what-if analysis, in order to optimise management of a given scheduling process.
 According to the invention, this object is achieved by means of a method and system of tuning a scheduling process having the characteristics defined in independent Claims.
 Another object of the invention is a computer program product or computer program set to be run on a computer system or computer network, as claimed.
 Reference to "computer program set" is evidently intended to highlight the possibility for the invention to be carried out in a decentralized manner over a plurality of machines.
 A preferred embodiment of the invention provides a method and system for defining targets for work plans generated by the scheduling process and for applying a score function to each of the work plans with the aim of calculating respective score values representative of an objective degree of achievement of the targets.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 Further characteristics and advantages of the invention will be understood by means of the following detailed description of an embodiment thereof, provided by way of non-limiting example with reference to the appended drawings, in which:
 FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram representing the overview of a typical WorkForce Management System;
 FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a what-if analysis environment according to the invention;