What is Employee Scheduling Software? Analysis of Features, Benefits and Pricing

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Creating a schedule that works well for all your employees and shift requirements is arduous and time-consuming. Small, medium and large-scale companies suffer from loss of time and resources in dealing with the confusion and potential human error when doing it manually. A cost-efficient and reliable solution for this is implementing an employee scheduling software. But first of all, what is employee scheduling software?

It is a workforce and scheduling management platform designed for owners and managers to administer their hourly workers. Automating the process of creating schedules produces consistent results, manages labor costs, increases productivity, and improves workforce satisfaction. Its core function allows auto-assigning shifts, automating notifications for new schedules and shift changes, clock-in and clock-out features, timecard creation, and payroll import files.

In this guide, we’ll provide the definition of the essential pieces of information in understanding the scheduling software in depth. The following points will be covered and discussed in details:

  1. Examples of employee scheduling software
  2. Benefits of employee scheduling software
  3. Types of employee scheduling software
  4. Features of employee scheduling software
  5. Buying factors to consider
  6. Pricing of employee scheduling software
  7. Potential issues
  8. Latest trends

Increasing importance of innovation in a workplace

Running a business involves a lot of processes, like admin tasks that can take up a huge amount of your time and attention from focusing on your central and high-level operations. This may lead you to under utilize your resources or hire more employees that would cost you more in the long run.

Using a spreadsheet in plotting timelines and schedules loses 20% of a manager’s time, as per Deputy. In a year, 140 hours of their working time is spent on creating schedules manually. This is a huge chunk of time that can be allocated to other high priority tasks.Moreover, employees who don’t have a well-structured schedule admit to wasting 50% of their time at work. Coming into work without being aware of the tasks that need to be done drops their productivity.

The good news is that we now have technical solutions to address these bottlenecks and improve your whole team’s efficiency and productivity. Employee scheduling software solves common issues like shift demand swings, scheduling changes, and employee no-shows. According to an Aberdeen Group study, employees are 6 times more satisfied with their work when they are given the ability to manage their own schedule in real time. This can impact your employee’s morale and performance. It also helps reduce unplanned overtime costs up to 4% while worker productivity increases up to 12%.

Source: Deputy.com

Examples of Employee Scheduling Software

If you want to get a headstart on checking out some software solutions, you may start at some of the leading products in the niche. Here are some examples of employee scheduling software:

  1. Scoro. With a host of work management features, Scoro makes tracking and planning schedules more efficient. Assigning tasks and scheduling shifts are done smoothly on its own planner where you can view individual workloads of your employees and available slots. The visual overview lets you create realistic deadlines for tasks and avoid conflicting shifts. Employees can also manage their own priorities, deadlines, and projects. Automated updates streamline calendar events and work reports. Meanwhile, the shared calendar centralizes all schedules and meetings to guarantee everyone stays in the loop.
  2. 7Shifts. Designed specifically for restaurants, 7Shifts is packed with industry-specific features to target and address the scheduling needs of a restaurateur. Those who have used the traditional pen and paper or Excel for scheduling can recognize the UI’s layout as it’s designed similarly for familiarity. The difference lies in how the software upgrades its functionality with an intuitive drag-and-drop navigation, auto-scheduling feature, and custom shift plates. It simplifies staff scheduling by basing it on weekly shift requirements and staff availability. The staff is also notified of any assignments or changes using instant notifications with the free mobile app.
  3. SubItUp. Engineered towards eliminating conflict schedules of staff, SubItUp ensures there will be no double-booking for your employees with its smart tech system. When a staff is unavailable, they will not be scheduled for a shift or task. It adapts to the size of your team to create solutions for devising and communicating staff schedules based on crucial factors of your organization. The unpublished mode lets you take your time in planning schedules and making changes as much as you want without updating your team of every adjustment. Once it’s done and complete, you can then publish it. It also has other features like staff self-scheduling, staff priority, fair shift, shift reassignment, add or drop a shift, and break time arrangements.
  4. Planday. It caters to different industries such as retail, manufacturing, fitness and leisure, and hospitality, among others. It eliminates the manual process of collecting the employee’s availability and preferred shift. Instead, it gathers all the information efficiently and stores it for future reference when you’re scheduling. Creating schedules based on the department and skill set ensures the right staffs are employed at the right shifts. To reduce time spent on creating schedules, you can save a template which you can reuse as a base for new schedules and fine tune it based on your current requirements.
  5. ADP Vantage HCM. It is a software suite for various business management solutions. True to the definition of employee scheduling software, one of its core functions is time and labor management which uses a configurable automated scheduling. This ensures the right people are assigned the right tasks at the right time. It has absence management capabilities to keep track of infractions and availability while preparing for scenarios where there are leaves and absences. Managing attendance and overtimes is also covered by the software with its real-time dashboard visibility. It also monitors any changes made in timecards and ensures consistent pay policies are applied.

Scoro’s dashboard with a view of various statistics, revenues, and calendar, among others.

Benefits of Employee Scheduling Software

Why use employee scheduling software? There are numerous reasons to implement the system in your organization. Each business has different purposes and requirements for using it. To get an idea of what it can do for your business, here are some of the advantages of employee scheduling software:

  1. Adapting to changes in employee availability. Having a buffer in case of scheduling changes is crucial to avoid scheduling conflicts or shifts with no assigned worker. For example, when one employee cannot make it to his/her shift, he/she can look for a replacement once the schedule is posted. If the software has a shift-swapping capability, the available employee can take the schedule and accept it in real time. As managers, you will have the option to manually approve this changes or automate the process.
  2. Improving employee communication. Staying in touch with your employees to make sure they can make it to their assigned duties is crucial. Group notifications send alerts to everyone or a selected number of people when there are new schedules assigned to them or if there are changes made with their shifts. This also makes it easier to immediately look for an available employee when the assigned staff fails to come to work.
  3. Ensuring compliance. Overlooking documentation, expiration dates, and store credentials can hurt your organization’s processes. Therefore, it’s important to monitor credentials and ensure they are compliant with the relevant rules and regulations. If there are employees with upcoming credential expirations, the software will send them alerts so they won’t miss the expiration date. Those with expired credentials will automatically be blocked from being assigned to shift to lessen the time spent in tracking each employee.
  4. Reducing employee no-shows. An emergency and unplanned employee unavailability can happen, especially during same-day situations where an employee may fail to show up or fall ill all of a sudden. The software can mitigate this issue by preparing a pool of a small number of employees who can take the shift in the last-minute. They can be full-time workers who want some overtime work, part-time employees, or contingent staff. This can also be utilized during demand swings when there is an increase or decrease in staff demand.
  5. Evaluating your organization’s resources. The software provides you a rich source of data that ranges from attendance information to skill and performance ratings which you can tap for assessments. Monitoring and measuring your resource pools ensure you fill a role, especially mission-critical ones, with highly-skilled employees at the right time. This also helps you notice if there are any overlapping requests for vacation leaves so you can adjust schedules proactively beforehand.
  6. Trimming labor costs. Optimizing labor coverage can be achieved by efficiently tracking and utilizing historical information in determining labor needs for each shift. Forecasting the demand lets you assign shifts that align with your business needs at a given time or situation to control unplanned overtime costs and monitor overall labor costs in comparison to the allocated budget.
  7. Procedural consistency. Misplacing, overlooking, and forgetting time off requests can be a major problem for your business operations. Your employee’s performance and moral can be improved when they are assured of a consistent scheduling process while managers and supervisors get the peace of mind that each shift is supplied with enough workforce. This leads to better customer satisfaction when they’re business needs are met with high-quality service from your staff.

Types of Employee Scheduling Software

How does employee scheduling software work? These systems are developed to provide solutions for your company’s scheduling needs. It may come in two types, which are:

  1. Static scheduling. This type of scheduling is suited for companies with fixed working shifts. They rotate employees on two or more shifts during a 24-hour period with a predefined periodicity. The software remembers the routine and streamlines the process by scouring which employee is scheduled for a specific shift during the day. Some businesses that suit this type of scheduling are hospitality industries like restaurants and hotels.
  2. Dynamic scheduling. Work shifts that constantly change belong to dynamic scheduling. It may also refer to shifts with varying clients and locations such as HVAC technicians, pet sitting services, and home care contractors. The employees are scheduled for a shift at different times and locations. The software helps avoid scheduling conflicts by ensuring everyone gets a real-time update on who is available.

Some products cater to only one type while others can implement the two scheduling types. Additionally, it also comes in two deployment types.

  1. Web-based. Many companies use this type of deployment because it can be accessed in any computer anywhere in the world as long as the user has the necessary login details and internet connection. There are no installations needed and the data doesn’t have to be backed up manually so you’re assured your data is secured and saved. Purchasing this type of service can be on a monthly or annual basis which you can pay for as long as you use it. In most cases, the cost depends on the number of users or employees.
  2. On-premise/Server-based. The database and software for storing your information are installed on your server. Hence, it can only be used by users within your private network. It usually has a high upfront cost of purchasing the system with additional payments for maintenance, support, and upgrades. Backing up data must also be done regularly so you can restore it if the computer breaks down or needs replacement.

Planday’s user interface (UI) for their mobile platforms.

Features of Employee Scheduling Software

What does employee scheduling software do? To get a better grasp on what it does, it is fundamental to learn the features of employee scheduling software to streamline and optimize your work and scheduling management requirements.

  1. Schedule overview. This is essential for viewing your weekly, biweekly, and monthly shifts so you can gain perspective regarding your employee’s schedule like coverage gaps. Filter what you want to see based on location, specific shifts, and roles. You can also view who is assigned at a certain time and location.
  2. Work management. This lets you oversee your work or project by managing billable and nonbillable work, portfolio management, budget allocation, meeting schedules, and employee workloads while maintaining productivity and efficiency.
  3. Real-time communication. The software combines its capabilities with mobile technology to provide real-time, 24/7 access to your workforce through text messaged, emails, or mobile applications. This ensures everyone receives timely notifications for any announcements, updates, and changes.
  4. Auto-assign shift. This expedites one of the most time-consuming processes which is assigning shifts. It automates matching an employee with the appropriate role in an organized way. After all, what is employee scheduling software if not for automating shift assignments and speeding up the process.
  5. Shift swapping. This makes it easy for employees to trade their shifts or pick up available shifts. This prevents double-booking to a specific shift while staying compliant with your company’s overtime rules to avoid unplanned overtime costs.
  6. Schedule template. The template serves as a base for your next schedules which you can fine tune based on your current shift requirements. This can be saved from your previous schedules to reduce the time spent on creating new formats even when the schedule is static or repeating.
  7. Worker profile. This is essential in handling all your employee’s data like contact information, licenses, training, documents, certifications, expiration dates, employment history, and education information, among others. This helps you align job responsibilities with their expertise and ensure compliance.
  8. Resource forecasting. Leverage sophisticated algorithms according to historical patterns accurately to have a projection on what types and how many resources you’ll need.
  9. Reports and analytics. It provides insight on labor costs, schedules, and employees for people and calendar reports, financial reports, time clock, and data export. These executive summaries are vital to keeping the management informed about the entire staff’s schedule and working information.
  10. Integrations. If you have payroll and human capital management systems, you can integrate the software to optimize your business operations. This can also contribute to centralizing your time and attendance functionality.

Buying factors to consider

Identifying the purpose of employee scheduling software helps you choose which solution to purchase. It makes the process significantly more efficient to manage. It also ensures compliance with various rules and regulations. To help you narrow down your choices, you may also consider these factors:

  1. Ease of use. Not all users in various types of industries are tech savvy. Hence, choosing a system that is user-friendly eliminates a long learning curve for users with no technical knowledge.
  2. Auto-assign shifts. Assigning shifts is time-consuming which makes it crucial to look for a system that automates the process following your own set of rules. This eliminates the need to manually match an employee to a position and prevent errors.
  3. Schedule Tracker. Since one of the main purposes of getting an employee scheduling software is to make scheduling efficient, having a tracker is essential. This helps you build and maintain schedules, boost customer satisfaction, and set up billing cycles.
  4. Cost-efficiency. Purchasing a software plan is an investment. It’s important to choose one that gives you more value and function. This may also mean adding premium features for a better ROI if it supplies your business needs.
  5. Targeting business challenges. Identifying your business’ pain points is crucial because each business faces different challenges due to unique factors. Knowing what issues you need to address makes choosing a software that can solve it more effective.
  6. System compatibility. To truly improve your business operations, the new software must be compatible with your existing systems such as reporting, payroll, and point-of-sale (POS), if you have them. Integrating them together increases the overall efficiency of your processes and maximizes the software’s performance.
  7. Accessibility and security. For the convenience of your team, considering the software’s accessibility is vital. Since most people nowadays prefer using their smartphones and tablets, having a software that’s available on mobile platforms is essential. It must also be secure to protect your business data.
  8. QuickBooks integration. While it is optional and preference-based, choosing a software that integrates with QuickBooks or other accounting solutions streamlines payment management.
  9. Available technical support. Stumbling upon technical issues can hurt your business and waste valuable time. Knowing the software has a reliable and reachable support gives you peace of mind in case of any software problems.
  10. Analytics and reporting. The software must provide you with sufficient and accurate information to optimize your scheduling process. Make sure to check if it collects relevant data that you can assess and review.

7Shifts’ performance tracker showing sales and labor costs.

Pricing of Employee Scheduling Software

To get an idea of the cost of employee scheduling software, here are some pricing plans for the leading product solutions in this niche.

  1. Scoro. It comes in three pricing plans that start at $22 per user and $899 for onboarding cost. All their plans are equipped with robust features like automated data backup, full-featured API, and various management tools to cater different business needs and scale.
  2. 7Shifts. The price packages start at $39.99 per month for the Entree which can also be billed monthly or annually. Enterprises that need more tools and solutions can also ask for a quote to customize the plan accordingly.
  3. SubItUp. Their pricing packages start at a monthly rate of $1 per user with features like manual scheduling and shift changes. Higher plans include API access, HR tools, and automated scheduling. Enterprises can ask for a quote for specific scheduling requirements so SubItUp’s consultants can develop a solution for you.
  4. Planday. Starting from a monthly fee of $2 per user, basic scheduling and communication services are covered. You may also add more features and upgrade your plan as your company grows.
  5. ADP Vantage HCM. Its pricing is only available upon request for a quote as their consultants base the fee on your business’ scheduling needs.

Potential Issues

Not all products are created perfect and equal. There are circumstances where you’ll encounter potential issues in implementing them and, in some cases, it may not even be the software’s fault. Here are some things to be aware of:

  1. Internet connection issues. Most work management software solutions are web-based and reliant to internet access. However, it can be challenging for users who don’t have a high level of performance with their internet connections.
  2. Skeptical employees. Some employees are hesitant about adopting new technology, especially those who are not very tech savvy. This can be solved through an open communication to let your employees understand the benefits and convenience it can give them.
  3. Underutilization. You pay when you implement the system. If it’s features are not fully utilized, you may get little ROI. Making sure you understand how the system works is crucial, especially when you add premium tools and features.

After understanding what is employee scheduling software and learning about its features, it’s time to look at its recent trends. Today’s staff scheduling solutions are already equipped with a rich set of tools and features. At the same time, it is expected that further innovations are developed and integrated into the software to improve its efficiency as more companies engage it in their organization.

While the employee scheduling software streamlines many of the business operations, it still needs the oversight of managers to correct issues and fine tune it. But as technology advances, more and more systems are tapping into Artificial Intelligence to play a bigger role in the entire process that lessens the need for actual supervision.

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