9 Questions To Consider When Choosing Scheduling Software

You have a new task to find a new employee scheduling software for your organization. A quick Google search has probably indicated that it is no simple choice. There is a wide range of systems available, all with different features and benefits. Here are 3 questions to help you start the search of finding employee […]

You have a new task to find a new employee scheduling software for your organization. A quick Google search has probably indicated that it is no simple choice. There is a wide range of systems available, all with different features and benefits. Here are 3 questions to help you start the search of finding employee scheduling software for your organization.

Is the solution comprehensive enough for your needs?

Many employee scheduling software solutions solve simple scheduling problems; just a step up from Excel or creating the schedule manually. If you have a small group of stable staff, a low-end system might be right for you.

However, if your organization has some complex scheduling challenges, you will need a solution that can handle more comprehensive requirements. If you have labor laws to consider, issues with overtime and seniority, a high level of turnover, and more than a few dozen employees, you likely fall into this category.

Can the solution grow with you?

As your business grows, your software needs to grow with you. Your employee scheduling software may start in one department. But, one day it could be used by other departments, or even your whole enterprise. Ensure the system can expand to meet your changing needs over the long haul.

Does the software vendor understand your industry and specific challenges?

A good employee scheduling vendor should understand the challenges you face in your particular industry. Ask how many other customers they have in your sector, or how many customers face similar problems as your organization. A company with experience in your industry can help you set up a good employee scheduling workflow. Take advantage of how they have already established that for other clients in your sector.

Good scheduling software is flexible enough to export and import data from your existing systems, saving you time and effort.

Does the system have all the features that you need?

Different types of businesses will have different scheduling needs. These needs are important when considering what features to look for.

For union based operations, you will likely need scheduling software that can support rules-based scheduling. Look for software that accounts for seniority, certifications, qualifications, and the agreement in place. There are also considerations for businesses with remote or mobile employees. Take event-based companies such as venues, catering, and security, the ability to input multiple customers and locations is paramount. Ensure that any scheduling software you consider has the tools you need for your business.

Does the company provide support if your users require assistance?

Support and maintenance is often overlooked in the software buying process. Many people assume that it is included in the pricing given. However, be on the lookout for additional fees for support or very limited hours.

With on-premise installations of employee scheduling software, keep in mind that eventually, it will become outdated. This means you will have to upgrade the software and possibly the hardware used to run it. You can continue to run it as long as you like but at some point, the vendor will discontinue support. It goes without saying that this may create major problems in the future. This situation can be avoided by going with a “hosted” or “cloud” option.

Can the scheduling solution integrate with your payroll, HR, and other financial systems?

This is perhaps one of the most important questions you can ask your employee scheduling software vendor. How one platform “talks” to related software is integral to ensuring that you get the best value out of it. If you have to manually key in payroll information after scheduled hours have been performed, you haven’t found your solution.

Can the software be deployed both as Software-as-a-Service over the Internet, as well as on-premise?

Traditional software models work best for those who want the program & data to be kept on internal hardware. This means you pay one lump sum for the system, plus an annual maintenance fee for support and updates. And your company is in control of your system. This means your IT people are responsible for your own data security and system up-time.

If you would prefer to let the vendor deal with IT issues, cloud-based software may suit you best. This means your people can access the system from anywhere at any time through the web. It also eliminates the need for IT to install any software or tweak any hardware.

Typically, you pay a low monthly fee for each user on the system. That way, the vendor is responsible for safeguarding your data and keeping the employee scheduling software working. Generally, you can pay for cloud computing out of your operating budget, with no need to make a capital purchase. Cloud computing will generally be up and running faster than a licensed system.

If you have a preference—or you haven’t yet made up your mind—make sure the vendor supports both models.

Is the company highly regarded in the space?

There are many start-up scheduling systems in the market place today. A vast majority can be considered “plug-and-play” software systems; which are hosted entirely on the internet and perform basic scheduling functions as well as some employee communication. However, if scheduling in your organization is more complex, these systems may not be right for you.

Advanced scheduling software should be able to input multiple sites, customers, bill, and pay rates. It should also remove avoidable overtime, account for meal breaks, and minimum rest periods.

Additionally, ask your vendor how long they have been in business. Even ask how many customers they have, and if you can speak to references. Ideally, their references should be in the same or similar line of business as yours. Ask them how smoothly the installation and training went? Also how gracefully the vendor handled any issues, and what type of payback they experienced. The vendor’s attention to customer service should figure prominently in your purchase decision.

Is the system cost-effective?

Employee scheduling programs can range from $100 to tens of thousands of dollars. You should expect to pay more if you’re trying to solve complex employee scheduling or business problems. Ask the vendor what type of payback their clients normally experience. When setting your budget, a good rule of thumb is to look for a payback in six to nine months.

Where will this return-on-investment (ROI) come from? Here are the likely areas of cost savings:

  • Are your schedulers and middle managers spending too much time handling calls from employees asking about their schedules? Tasks like managing time-off requests, trying to fill short-notice shifts, trying to verify that they arrived at their shifts? (A good system can drastically cut down these tasks, freeing up time for managers to attend to more strategic activities.)
  • How much can you save in un-billable overtime if your software automatically excludes any employees who must be paid overtime? (A good workforce scheduling system can cut unrecoverable overtime payments in half.)
  • What would you save in training costs if your turnover rate fell by 25%? (A good system can substantially reduce payroll errors, turnover, and training costs.)
  • Ask the vendor to help you quantify the expected savings. Think about six to nine months down the line, and see what kind of budget seems realistic.

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