Lansing Area R Users Group (laRUG) with Data Science

The Lansing Area R Users Group (laRUG) brings together R users in the Lansing area for discussions on data science (analysis and predictive modeling), big data, and all things R. This group provides a relaxed environment to exchange ideas and discuss R. Whether you are new to R (and programming), a statistician, or an advanced user, we are the group for you.

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July 2017 Notes on Holiday Adjustment Methodology

The July 2017 meetup was lead by Chris Umphlett (LinkedIn), a Senior Operations Business Process Analyst at Jackson National Life. Chris discussed his research on developing models to predict staffing levels for days following a holiday for several departments at Jackson National Life. Chris has graciously shared the Holiday Adjustment Methodology summary used by Jackson National Life’s Operations department and the center of our discussion.

Not all holidays are observed the same way across the world or even within a county. This can be problematic when a company has offices in more than one country – or even more than one state – or is based in one country with a majority of its clients in another. These concerns lead to questions of how the company should schedule staff to accommodate their clients and associated workload. In some cases, international holidays are – sometimes – easier to schedule staffing because a majority of the world is celebrating the holiday but staffing related questions become murky when addressing national and local holidays. National holidays in the US are easily defined and are often referred to as bank holidays while local and regional “holidays” are more difficult. With respect to local and regional holidays it is important to take into consideration the lifestyles of the clients and employees.

Types of Holidays

There are different types of holidays but they can be categorized into the following broad types:

Type of Observance

When predicting the amount of staffing needed following a holiday the manner the holiday is observed impacts the amount of potential work. Holidays celebrated by a majority of clients impacts the “day after holiday” workloads differently than holidays celebrated by a small fraction of clients. Another consideration is the location of your clients. When the workforce and clients are in different countries – or even geographical regions with different customs – it is possible to have mismatched between available staff and projected workload.

Date Consistency

When a holiday has a specific date – such as Christmas on December 25th – it will fall on different days of the week. In the US, when the holiday falls on a weekend it is observed during the workweek. Thus, Christmas on a Saturday is observed on the preceding Friday and if falls on a Sunday it is observed on the following Monday. The problem of data consistency is demonstrated in the Holiday Adjustment Calculator PDF and illustrates how different methods to calculate the week of the year a holiday occurs results in divergent results. These concerns are summarized as:

Other Problems Associated with Holidays

In addition to knowing when the holiday occurs there are concerns regarding staff availability, fiscal calendars, number of business days in the month, and the number of weeks in the year.

Also discussed…