Building a schedule every pay period can be a daunting task. Much like a quarterback preparing to call the next play, you have to be aware of a variety of factors that could affect the final outcome. You must account for individual employee needs and reconcile those with the needs of your business — factors which can be in constant movement. Fortunately, the days of building out a schedule with pen and paper are gone thanks to cloud based employee scheduling software.
In the past, only massive corporations with a big budget could afford to implement employee scheduling software. However, with ever-advancing technology, scheduling products are far more accessible than they have ever been in the past. The rise of cloud-based scheduling systems have led to an increase in software implementation — but why? Let’s start by looking at what scheduling software is, and then assess why you might choose a cloud-based system. Then, we’ll discuss which vendors are leading the industry in the current year.
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What This Article Covers
What Is Employee Scheduling Software?
One recent study found that managers devote a minimum of two hours to schedule building each week. But on the high end, some managers admit to spending as many as 12 hours a week on schedule building. That’s a lot of time that could be better spent focusing on other tasks like training and developing your employees.
It comes as no surprise that creating a schedule is a time-consuming task. Schedule building is a lot like a big puzzle, and each factor you must consider is just one of the many pieces you need to complete the final picture. You account for how many employees you need to work each day and make sure what your spending on the payroll for all of those hours stays within your budget. Now that you’ve put together the border of your puzzle, it’s time to consider the pieces that fill in the middle. Those pieces come in all different colors and include things like employee availability, how many hours each employee can work and which employees are on vacation. Not to mention all of the things you have to be prepared for, such as an employee calling in sick.
Then, after you’ve finished your puzzle and finally get to see the beautiful picture, the end of the pay period comes by and knocks the whole thing off the table, leaving you to put it all back together next week. In a nutshell, that’s what the scheduling process looks like — and even if you love puzzles, this probably doesn’t sound like a very fun process. That’s the reason many organizations are turning to scheduling apps.
Employee scheduling systems can significantly decrease the amount of time you spend on schedule building — some products will even automatically generate schedules for you based on the information you enter into the system. The core function of any employee scheduling software will be to help you streamline and automate your scheduling process. The system will keep track of all of those puzzle pieces and help you put them all together.
Scheduling Software Features
There are a lot of features to consider when you begin comparing and evaluating potential vendors. You’ll want to develop your own list of requirements that reflect the unique needs of your business. You can develop that document by evaluating your specific pain points and determining which features will be able to help with those specific tasks. You can also use our free requirements template, which can help you develop a thorough understanding of which features you will want to prioritize and how to evaluate them. Regardless of your specific needs, there will be a few key features to evaluate for every system on your list.
Schedule management is the core feature you’ll use in any employee scheduling system. If the system you choose is a football team, then the schedule management feature is your star quarterback. This feature is your play caller, making final decisions about who is going to work when and for how long. Many of the other features will be incredibly valuable to the team, but it’s the quarterback who is truly the MVP.
Another important feature will be employee management. While not an active player, the employee management feature will function as your team roster, telling you who all of the players in your workplace are. Some of the specific tools within this feature include your employee database, availability and a list of your business locations. All of these factors will be important when it’s time to set the field and run the play.
Your other star player will be scheduling effectiveness and tracking. This feature is a bit like your team’s running back — whether it’s running the ball or blocking a hit, effectiveness and tracking tools can help fill in the gaps on the field for the schedule management feature. Some of the specific tasks this feature can help with are employee tracking and schedule forecasting.
Your muscle on the field will be a shift management feature. Think of this feature like your toughest linebacker. This is your strong defensive player, tackling the ball carrier and ensuring that your schedule is safe from blindsides. Some of the more noteworthy functions of this feature include warning you of shift conflicts and helping to build schedules based on skill.
While this is nowhere near the full team line up, these are a few of the key players in an employee scheduling system you’ll want to be aware of. Just like drafting a new team, there will be positions to prioritize and others that you won’t focus on quite as heavily. Those needs will vary from business to business, so when it’s time for you to assess the players of your system you’ll want to be aware of what your business’ specific needs are.
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What Is Cloud-Based Software?
Put simply, cloud-based systems are those which are stored externally from your organization’s server and instead are stored on your vendor’s servers. Cloud-based products allow you to access the software through the internet, usually based on a subscription fee. The alternative to these types of systems would be an on-premise software, which would require you to purchase the software and install it on your own servers. So what are the reasons you might consider implementing a cloud based employee scheduling software?
A major benefit of cloud-based systems is accessibility. The ability to access your software from any device with internet connectivity will allow you to generate and alter schedules from anywhere — so you won’t have to run back into the office to check who is working or at what time. This also allows for greater collaboration. Some cloud systems will allow your employees to utilize features of the software from home as well. That means they can find coverage for shifts they are unable to work and pick up additional shifts as they open up.
These types of systemsare a good business investment. Cloud systems get constant updates, and can quickly be modified to suit your business needs. For example, you’re able to expand your capacity to match the growth of your business. Many products will also automatically update, ensuring that you’re always using the latest and greatest version of the system.
Finally, for anyone worried about their business’s effects on the environment, cloud systems provide environmental benefits as well. Cloud-based software allows you to adjust the size of your server capacity, so you’ll never use more energy than you need to.
Sadly, every type of software has pitfalls and cloud software is no exception. The most commonly discussed problem is data security. Because cloud software requires a connection to the internet, it by default opens you up to risks not readily present with on-premise software. Fortunately, many vendors take security very seriously and offer a variety of protections to keep your information safe.
Another potential challenge you may face is outages. These types of systems are internet based, and as such, there is always a possibility that a service outage will leave you without access to the system. However, planning ahead for these types of events can prevent any major hiccups that would affect your business.
Best Cloud-Based Employee Scheduling Software Right Now
Now that we’ve talked about the key players on the team, it’s time to see which team will be making it to the cloud employee scheduling software Superbowl. We’ve compiled a list of teams we believe deserve a spot in the playoffs, based on data from our team of expert analysts.
The first competitor on our bracket is Deputy. One thing to note about this team is the collaborative ability of the individual players within the team. Not only does this system offer the core employee scheduling tools, but it also includes time and attendance features as well. Deputy also provides integrations for other business applications, which is useful if you’re looking for a system that will get along with any free agents you pick up throughout the season.
Some of the star players on this team include auto-scheduling, customizable pay rates and break management. The auto-scheduling tools utilize artificial intelligence to forecast labor demands and generate schedules with a single click. Deputy will also calculate factors like overtime and salaries for every shift. The break management function helps by making it easy for managers to track break details by breaking all of the information down visually.