Scheduling snafus are the bane of every HR manager’s existence, often leading to missed shifts and decreased productivity. Scheduling software is designed to prevent common problems by making employee schedules easy to create, modify and distribute. Although these programs might seem similar at first glance, finding the perfect software solution for your needs requires an understanding of the variety of features that employee shift scheduling software provides. This buyer’s guide will make it easy for you to learn just that. Here’s what we’ll cover:
While this guide focuses exclusively on employee scheduling, we also provide a list of top appointment scheduling systems. These offer a broader set of features, such as online booking, calendar management, automatic reminders, customer scheduling, online payment acceptance and more.
Employee scheduling systems let managers create, track and manage employee schedules. In addition to freeing managers and employees from the bonds of paper scheduling, standard features and capabilities of scheduling software include:
Implementing the right employee scheduling system can have numerous benefits for managers and employees alike. A few of these include:
Improving communication. Developing and maintaining a strong line of communication with your staff is one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. By providing staff with an online resource for checking schedules and using text or email reminders, many common staff scheduling miscommunications can be prevented.
Increasing efficiency and accuracy. One of the primary benefits of staff scheduling software is being able to quickly create, view and modify schedules, handle vacation requests and keep in contact with employees about scheduling needs. Some programs include automatically populating fields, which help you spend less time manually entering names and numbers.
Maintaining compliance with labor and union laws. Scheduling applications can be used to automatically track employee hours to prevent labor and/or union law violations. This feature is especially useful for companies that have employees who can legally only work a certain number of hours, such as minors or people receiving disability benefits.
Monitoring labor costs. Scheduling software makes it easy to record hours and payroll data, providing valuable insight into current and future expenses. This gives managers better control over budgeting and overtime costs. Some payroll support solutions can even be integrated with your scheduling system.
Employee scheduling software usually adheres to one of two models:
|Pricing Model||Description||Example Products|
|Subscription-based, or “Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)”||A monthly or annual fee for using the software, typically based on the number of employees who need to access it.||ZoomShift, WhenToWork, WorkSchedule|
|Perpetual License||A one-time fee paid up front that allows you to use the software in perpetuity.||TimeForge, VSS Pro|
The majority of employee scheduling systems are priced on the SaaS model. Typically Web-based systems, these products allow you to access schedules from the cloud. To help determine which pricing model is best for your needs, try using our Total Cost of Ownership calculator.
Many vendors offer free trials lasting between 14 and 30 days to let prospective buyers test the software before buying. Offering both monthly and annual subscription options is another popular billing approach that gives buyers more freedom to decide when to pay.
Evaluating new employee scheduling software can be intimidating, especially with the large number of products and myriad of different features available. Recently, we contacted software buyers across several industries to determine how they could most effectively choose new software. We discovered that the top methods included checking vendor references, having agreements reviewed by an attorney, assessing financial viability of vendors and preparing a request for proposal (RFP).
Quadrant indicating where selection tactics fall on the “impact” and “satisfaction” spectrum
By adopting selection tactics that fall in the "most effective" quadrant and avoiding tactics in the "least effective" quadrant, you can avoid wasting time on methods that are less likely to return useful information for selecting the best employee scheduling software.
Some vendors have industry-specific solutions that come with their own set of customized features. We profiled some of the more popular ones:
Restaurant/food service. Solutions tailored for restaurants and food-service organizations often include options for recording certifications, such as TABC and ServSafe, and notifying managers before their expiration; many can also coordinate schedules between multiple locations and integrate with POS systems.
Retail. As with the food service industry, some retail-specific solutions can coordinate between store locations and be integrated with POS systems. Retailers that depend on just one or two employees per shift can also benefit from reminders to prevent missed shifts and the inevitable scramble to find last-minute coverage.
Health care. Adequate shift coverage is crucial for healthcare providers, which has led software companies to include such features as notifications for last-minute appointment changes, fast communication tools for shift-swapping and the ability to assign employees to work at multiple locations.
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