1

I am a systems administrator that schedules when a call center will be open to take calls from hospitals.

We have 3 elements:

  1. Systems Administrator (Ohio - ET)
  2. Call Center (Denver - MT)
  3. Hospital (California - PT)

As you can see, 3 time zones:

  • Eastern (ET)
  • Mountain (MT)
  • Pacific (PT)

Example scenario:

  • Hospital calls call center and says:

    "Hey, we need additional phone support from the hours of 8a to 6p (PT)."

  • Call center calls systems administrator to schedule the additional support.

So as you can see, the ET time zone systems administrator is scheduling PT time zone hospital coverage hours for a MT time zone call center.

There is frequent confusion because the systems administrator doesn't know if they're adding time blocks in their time zone, the call center's time zone, or the hospital's time zone.

Note: The interface is changing, that's part of what I'm doing here.

I've just captured the interface as it exists today:

enter image description here

  • I'm not really sure I understand what your question is. I see a lot of explaining what the scenario is and what your problem is, but there's not really a question in there. Also, I'm not understanding the issue either. How is there any confusion? Who is reading the calendar interface with the scheduling? That's whose time zone the interface should be designed for. – Code Maverick Feb 14 '14 at 15:34
3

The request initiator and final consumer of the service is a hospital. So it's better to use hospital local time for shedulling in the system.

Call center works at other time zone, so you need easy mapping tool for setting Hospital request into Call center time.

Admin time has a little meaning in the system, it is more the source of errors.

As mapping between Hospital and Call center time requires some converting, it's better to include appropriate tool into the system, rather in a human head.

I think you could use scheduling system with integrated time mapping tool, which provides strong visual support to eliminate errors. Look at the picture, I think it's rather clear:

enter image description here

Also I feel there is an excessive link in the interaction. Why a hospital couldn't leave request to an administrator, without bothering call center?

  • Nice suggestion. Somewhat along the lines that everytimezone.com takes. The site could do with some more base cities, but I find it very useful and use it regularly to check what time it is for someone who is travelling. – Marjan Venema Feb 14 '14 at 18:00
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It needs to be more clear what time zone your interface is presenting. You could add a prominent disclaimer saying "all times are local", or have the option to switch the time zone presented.

Furthermore, time zone needs to be an explicit option when adding new entries to the schedule. Users should be able to add blocks of time in a given time zone; this would be my preference if I was having to add blocks in multiple time zones frequently. Something like this might work:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Ultimately you just need to make the frame of reference clear to the user - if they go to add a block to the schedule, what time zone are they entering that block for? If they are prompted to supply this information, the administrator will likely adjust his process to demand this information from people who want entries added to the schedule.

Edit: It seems to make sense that the schedule presented should be in the local time zone of the call center (since that's who uses the schedule); it would still make sense to enter entries in the schedule along with the time zone information (i.e., I'm a hospital on the east coast and I want support from 2-4 ET).

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