The industry of Workforce management software has had its fair share of ups and downs.
For many decades, advancements and developments in the industry were none existent. In fact, it was not until recently that scheduling became a more prevalent workforce management headache. As a result, the Workforce management software industry has boomed over the last 20 years, giving way to many tech companies providing both automation in employee scheduling and time collection
What brought Workforce Management about?
Giving up on pen and paper it was in the 1990’s that people began to use Excel to keep track of employee schedules. Even then many people were still using paper and pen and had to call or mail schedules out to employees, all the while hoping nothing changed with the schedule or the employee’s availability. Nowadays this system no longer works. The importance of work-life balance and competitive nature of getting and keeping good employees means employers have to offer more than a static schedule. With that, comes the development of automated scheduling and communication tools through the form of automated Workforce management software available to both admin users and employees giving access to schedules 24/7, 365.
Automation, Automation, Automation
This buzz word is more prevalent than ever in the industry of HR management and Workforce management. There is no doubt the era of advancements in these industries is far from over.
Here are just a few of the benefits of staff Workforce management software:
- Your employees will be able clock in and out through mobile app, web, phone, or collection devices
- Improve your payroll process by accurately tracking hours worked by your staff
- Eliminate scheduling errors
- Allow your employees to provide their availability online, so you don’t have to waste time doing that manually
- Export data to other systems through many different integration options
- Streamline communication with your employees
- Balance working hours evenly and eliminate costly overtime hours
- Perform virtual safety checks and confirm employees GEO location
How to Pick the Right Workforce Management Software?
In any purchase the question of “why should I buy?” should and does come to mind. In the purchase process for Workforce management software, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before both searching for a vendor and signing a contract. In our previous blog “Is Workforce management software Right for You?” we went through an analysis of when automated scheduling becomes important to an organization. Now that you have decided you want, the next hurdle is picking the right company to work with.
Asking the Right Questions
In the search for anything new, the difficultly is often asking the right questions. To make things easier for you, we have a guide of questions to ask yourself as well as your sales representative when evaluating the right employee scheduling and time & attendance provider for your organization. Take a look below to make sure you ask the right questions to get a system that both fits your needs and will give you maximum value.
Solving Current Issues
What are your scheduling headaches right now? Is it the number of staff you have to schedule? Is it the complexity of the scheduling? Or is it something completely specific to the way your business operates? – These are good starting questions when you are evaluating a scheduling provider, regardless of your industry. It is very important you know your pain points going in and make it clear those are priorities for you.
Needs vs. Wants
We recommend having a list of “Must Haves” and a list of “Nice to Haves”. For example, a “Must Have” might be a system that ties into your payroll or billing software making it easy to ensure payroll data and invoices are correct.
A “Nice to Have” may be a system that sends SMS texts to your employees reminding them of upcoming shifts. Both may make life easier, but one has more direct value. Sticking to your “Must Haves” and “Nice to Haves” will make sure you are not compromising for a system that has nice frills, but doesn’t meet your core requirements.
TIP: If you work with a development focused company, you may find that your “nice to haves” may be coming in the future. There is no harm in asking or suggesting a product improvement. This is a great way to gauge if the company is open to feedback.
When looking for a software vendor, you will find everything from cheap to expensive, and everything in between. Often, solution will be similar on the surface, but when signing a contract, there are other things you should take into consideration about your vendor. Two important aspects to look at are the company’s reputation and their customer lifespan.
Take a look on websites such as Capterra or other online review sites for what customers have said about working with them. You can take it a step further by asking your sales representative about the average life time of a customer.
Some companies may tell you they have millions of users, but how long do those users stay active? It may be for a few years or a few months, or even less. Knowing how long they keep customers on average will give you good insight into customer satisfaction.
What Happens When I Grow?
If you are a growing company who may change their needs in the future, ask questions about the product vision and product flexibility. What is their customer size range? What is their focus for future product improvements? The answers to these questions will give you a good idea of if this company is going to grow with you or if you will need to be looking for a new vendor once you outgrow them.
What will be my ROI?
Any big investment that is promising to save you time and money will likely have a nice price tag attached. The question should be how much will this save me? To answer that question, you will have to examine the financial areas of improvement. Do you have high overtime costs?
Is the current system error prone? Does it require high overhead? All of these questions will help you figure out your ROI. Your potential provider should be able to help you identify the answers to these question with an ROI Calculator. This is a good stepping stone in determining if the system provides you enough value. You may even find that an automated system can pay for itself and then some in savings within the first year.
With that list above you are well equipped to start your purchasing process by asking the right questions for your organization. In addition, here a few extra things you might want to consider as well.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
A SaaS based Workforce management software will give you the ability to implement a solution quickly and easily. It will also be more cost effective than an installed enterprise software system and will give you the flexibility of scaling your solution as your business grows.
Choose a Diverse System That Does More Than Just Schedule
The goal of implementing a scheduling solution is to become more efficient, and save time & money. So pick a software that incorporates functions that include Payroll Integration, Employee Communication, and Time/Attendance.
How To Prepare Your Employees For Using a Workforce Management Software
While Workforce management software brings benefits of increased efficiency and productivity, adopting the solution takes a bit of effort initially to truly become a success. Organizations usually focus solely on software deployment, neglecting organizational adaptation. Organizational adaptation refers to modifications and alternations in the organization or its components in order to adjust changes in the external environment. Neglecting it would cause issues such as a longer adaptation process and a further reduction in performance. To avoid these issues, multiple actions need to be taken over the software adoption process.
Communication is Key
Make sure to involve your employees from the very beginning of the software adoption. Open discussion is always necessary. The discussion is not about whether or not to adopt, or what to adopt, but about the pros and cons of the solution and what to watch for during the process. For example, older employees usually take longer to get familiar with the new technology, and some people may not have access to a smartphone. Discussing these issues would help both parties be aware of the potential difficulties, the employees to have a better understanding of the adoption, and the management to have more realistic expectations towards the outcome.
Training and Customer Services from the Software Vendor
Software developers must design progressive training programs to properly onboard their clients. Selecting a pilot team for training and workshops is an effective way to test the software and get quick feedback. After the pilot program, analyze the result, revisit the training process and fine-tune for larger scale adoption.
During the training process, the advantage of having responsive customer service from the vendor becomes clear. Shorter waiting time means a shorter adaption process and less training cost. In this case, a higher and faster ROI can be achieved.
What Are the Costs of Inefficient Workforce Management?
Anyone who has tried to manually build a schedule for a staff of 20 or more knows it can be painful. Not only does it waste valuable time, but it is a thankless task that no one is ever completely satisfied with. Besides the odious nature of scheduling manually, there are other costs to inefficient employee scheduling.
Wasted Management Time
Too often, management spends and inordinate amount of time preforming scheduling tasks for the week; an obvious sign of inefficient employee scheduling. This is valuable time that could be spent growing the business, and focusing on more important tasks. On average, advanced Workforce management software can help cut scheduling time by at least 50%, and as much as 85%.
Missed Shifts, Holes in the Schedule, and Other Errors
Even with plenty of time devoted to employee scheduling, there will inevitably be errors in the schedule that lead to inefficient business operations. Without an easily accessible schedule that is simple to understand, employees will often miss shifts because they didn’t know they were scheduled to work. Manually built schedules also mean a lack of fail-safes to prevent holes in the schedule or a misuse of hours in certain departments or locations. It can also mean that unqualified employees are accidentally scheduled for roles they cannot perform.
Increased Financial Costs
Inefficient employee scheduling frequently leads to higher operating costs, usually in the form of avoidable overtime. When employees call in sick at the last minute, managers slot in whoever isn’t already working. However, often these employees have reached their 40 hour work week, and adding additional hours would result in overtime. Implementing a scheduling system that identifies overtime can eliminate this costly oversight.
With gaps in the schedule, departments with too many or too few employees, and managers quietly creating schedules in back-offices, inefficient employee scheduling means your customers will feel the pinch. Ideally, a good schedule will put the right employee, in the right place, at the right time. This will ensure that your customers are served appropriately, and managers are at the ready to help when necessary.
What are the Benefits of Cloud-Based Workforce Management?
Many mid-size businesses that employ a staff of 100 or more employees are finding that Excel and other basic Workforce management software applications are not meeting their needs. Making the transition to software that supports online employee scheduling, (or working in the Cloud) is proving to be a solution that ends many employee scheduling headaches. Harnessing the power of the Internet and moving your scheduling processes online have many benefits. Below are the top four benefits our clients have experienced by moving to online scheduling.
No Need for Internal IT Staff
Accessing your Workforce management software from the Internet means no complicated installation processes, upgrades, maintenance or in-house servicing of the software. All these issues are handled by our support staff, relieving the burden of having additional, or possibly any internal IT staff.
Always Have the Latest and Most Powerful Version
As technology and communication improve and the needs of your business change, so should your Workforce management software. By receiving small periodic upgrades throughout the year your software stays current and bug free. Upgrades can be scheduled at your convenience, and have little or no interruption to your business. Best of all, upgrades come at no additional cost to you.
Software That Grows With You
As your business grows, so can your software. Purchase licenses for exactly how many employees you have to schedule and how many administrators you want to have access to the system. Don’t get stuck with a stagnant system that will only allow for so many employees. Many organizations find themselves stuck with software that after a few years becomes obsolete as it can’t handle the growth of their business, allowing only for a maximum number of employees.
Access and Share from Anywhere
In today’s mobile world less and less work is done behind a desk in the office. Successful organizations have gone mobile and require access to workforce management tools in the field and at home. Online employee scheduling allows administrators and management to create, review and communicate staff schedules from anywhere, anytime. Changes are made in real-time and everyone in the organization has access to the most current schedule, ensuring less scheduling errors.
So there you have it, a deep dive into the world of Workforce Management Software. Celayix is proud to consider itself one of the best of breed Workforce Management Software out there. If you think we are a good fit for you, let us show you how we can help!