Using Solver for non numerical tasks?

  • Hi, I would like to use the solver plugin to automate the task of worker allocation, I have watched a few solver videos which give a basic introduction on how to use it, and I would like some advice is solver can perform in the following scenario.

    The problem

    • Each year 25 customers are distributed between the 5 staff members based on a workload ability (a numerical value)
    • Next the staff pick and equal or greater number of customers who they feel their skill set will help as a backup, As there are a greater number of Backup choices there will be some overlap.
    • Finally the staff are allocated their backup customers ensuring they meet at least their workload ability quota.

    So this is three sets of values
    Set 1: a list of staff, their workload ability, and a matching "backup" ability.
    Set 2: a list of customers with their pre allocated staff member, and a blank column for their "backup" staff member.
    Set 3: a list of customers each staff member is interested in being the backup support for.

    So each staff member has picked at least or more than their current workload figures in set3. I now need to distribute each staff member as the backup to set2 making sure that they are not already the existing primary support, and everyone gets a single unique backup based on the staff choices from set 3

    I know this is simple enough to achieve by hand using simple trial and error however with a larger sample set of tens of staff and hundreds of customers this becomes a lot more difficult. I belive solver can do this, however all the tutorials I can find work with numerical tasks, whereas this is a word distribution task.
    I hope I have explained the question correctly and please feel free to give me some pointers on how I can achieve this.

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