Last Updated On December 18, 2018 / Written By Caroline Sams

Work Schedule Apps | A Complete Guide

A work schedule app is a must for owners and managers to create and administer the schedules of hourly workers. The full automation of this task will produce consistent results, increase productivity and manage labor costs. The core functions of work schedule apps allow for auto-assigned shifts, automated alerts for new or changed schedules, timecard features, and payroll importation.

Regardless of company size, there is a loss of time and the waste of human capital in dealing with the potential for error in the arduous task of preparing work schedules, either manually or from inferior software. The reliable and cost-effective solution is implementing Zip Schedules software.

This guide provides critical information on work scheduling apps with the following points discussed-

1. Importance of Workplace Innovation
2. Benefits of Employee Scheduling Software
3. Types of Work Scheduling Apps
4. Software Features
5. Buying Factors to Consider
6. Potential Issues
7. Latest Trends
8. Frequently Asked Questions

Importance of Workplace Innovation

There are a lot of processes involved in owning and running a business. The administrative tasks alone can deviate time and attention from the core mission and high-level operations. These inefficiencies will cause the underutilization of human resources. If work schedules were prepared under a streamlined process, then the hiring of unneeded employees would be eliminated, resulting in a positive effect to the bottom line.

It has been proven that, in using the spreadsheet method to plot shift requirements and work schedules, the value time of management is lost as result. It has also been proven that employees without a structured program will waste 50% of their time at work. Employees need to be made aware of their tasks in order to be productive.

Now, there is technology to address these inefficiencies. Scheduling software will solve common issues, like swings in shift changes and no-show employees.

It is proven that employee morale increases when they are given the ability to manage their schedules in real time. This alone will have a positive effect on efficiency and performance both at the management and the shift-work levels. By extension, there will also be decreases in labor costs and increases in productivity.

Benefits of Employee Scheduling Software

While each business has a different purpose and reasons for using scheduling software, there are common reasons that pertain to any business for the implementation of a work schedule app.

Adapting to Change
Manual and inferior systems cannot adapt to change. At any given time in a day, there will be adjustments in a schedule due to employee availability or shifts without the appropriate number of scheduled workers. Once a schedule is posted, the employee will have the ability to find a replacement. The Zip Schedules technology has real-time swapping capabilities for employees to change their schedules and for the manager to approve the change.

Improve Communication
Live communication with all employees, regardless of shift or location, is crucial. The ability to confirm whether an employee is present for an assigned task, and for the employee to know of management’s acceptance to any change, improves communication at every level.

Ensuring Compliance
The software app has the capability of tracking the needed credentials of employees and of monitoring compliance. Alerts will be sent to both the employee and the manager of an upcoming expiration or training for continuing education. An employee who is not qualified, or who is no longer in compliance, will be blocked from a task or a shift requiring specific certification.

Reducing No-Shows
These same-day situations, like an illness or a family matter, are easily solved. Creating a small pool of employees within the software who can be available and flexible at the last minute will make for an easy transition from problem to solution. This pool of employees can be self-assigned by those wanting overtime, by those wanting only part-time work or by any other contingency staffing plan.

Evaluating the Company’s Resources
The scheduling app will also provide data ranging from attendance to skill sets for management to make the appropriate assessments. This information is important to measure the human resources of the company. It is important for managers to know that mission-critical roles are filled with the appropriately skilled employees.

Reducing Labor Costs
Historical information gathered by tracking and monitoring trends will determine the labor needs for each shift or time period within a day. The ability to forecast these demands will align with the company’s needs. The technology also has the capability of controlling unplanned overtime costs and monitoring overall labor costs against the budget.

Consistency
Procedural consistency in the management of vacation, personal or sick time is essential in business operations. Uniformity and reliability in the handling of these requests, and in the scheduling process of the replacement for absentee workers, makes for better morale and regularity of performance. Consistent employee performance leads to customer satisfaction.

Types of Work Scheduling Apps

There are two types of scheduling templates to meet the needs of any business.

Static Scheduling
This platform is for companies with fixed shifts. The system will manage the schedules over two or more shifts within a 24-hour period for a defined time. The software will streamline the process to scour the availability of an employee for, or which employee is assigned to, a specific shift.

Dynamic Scheduling
This format is for companies where shifts are in constant motion. Plumbers, electricians, technicians, repair people, and the like, who respond to calls from a diverse customer base need dynamic scheduling. The software will avoid any conflicts by keeping the person responsible for slating notified, in real time, as to whom is available for when.

Zip Schedules, and most other software platforms, can cater to both scheduling types.

There are two types of deployment, either web-based or server-based, and both are discussed below.

Web-Based
This deployment platform has become the most common as the program can be accessed from anywhere with the proper login credentials and an internet connection. There is no requirement for additional installations nor is there the requirement for manual back-up. Generally, the cost depends upon the number of employees with payments on a monthly or an annual basis.

Server-Based
The database and the software are installed within a server for access through the private network. This deployment type usually has high upfront costs with additional costs for maintenance, upgrades, and support. Back-ups must be done regularly to be restored when the computer system is down, or when a computer needs to be replaced.

Software Features

It is important for you to know and understand the features and the capabilities of the software for creating and implementing work schedules and the functions of management. Below are ten basic features of a work scheduling app.

Overview
This feature allows for the viewing of weekly, bi-weekly or monthly schedules. The overview feature can be filtered for what is needed for viewing; i.e., location, roles or specific shifts. This is where a manager, or the human resources department, can gain perspective on gaps and demand peaks.

Work Management
This feature is used for managing billable and non-billable hours, meeting schedules, budget allocations, and workloads while maintaining productivity from historical information for today’s comparisons.

Real-Time Communication
24/7 access to the workforce, and workforce to management, via texts, e-mail or mobile apps ensure the timely delivery of alerts, changes, and announcements.

Auto-Assign Shifts
This feature expedites the most time-consuming process—assigning shifts and tracking availability. This element is the main reason for implementing work schedule software.

Shift Swapping
This function is for employees to find replacements and to cover for others in order to prevent over scheduling and to control overtime costs.

Schedule Templates
These templates are the base for the next round of scheduling and can be manipulated and fine-tuned for any special needs and requirements within a scheduling period or a shift.

Employee Profile
This characteristic stores the information of all employees, such as education, certifications, contact information, and availability. It is from this feature that the pool of workers is built to cover for absences or emergencies.

Resource Forecasting
In this feature, algorithms are built from historical patterns to forecast the types and the number of resources needed.

Analytics
Reports are generated from this feature to summarize labor costs, calendar reports and time clock exports all of which are vital to keeping management informed on the correlation of employee scheduling, operations, and needs.

Integration
Work schedule software can be integrated into payroll and human resource management systems to optimize procedures and centralize functionality.

Buying Factors to Consider

The understanding of operations, and the areas for improvement, will aid in the purchase of a system to achieve company goals. However, the points given below must also be considered and known.

Ease of Use
A user-friendly system will eliminate a long learning curve for employees and management and will make non-tech savvy employees more comfortable.

Auto-Assign Shifts
This time-consuming task must be processed according to your rules and be relevant to the company’s needs without excess human intervention.

Schedule Tracker
The trackers help to build and maintain schedules, set up billing cycles and retain employee and customer satisfaction.

Cost Efficiency
The purchasing of software is an investment. It is essential to make sure any added features to the system will provide a measurable return on investment.

Targeting Challenges
Knowing the points within operations that need to be solved or monitored will aid in the selection of software features pertinent to the overall functionality of the company.

System Compatibility
Any new software must be compatible with existing systems and processes. A smooth integration will make for increased efficiency and will maximize the system’s performance.

Accessibility and Security
Any system must be able to operate within the parameters of easy accessibility for all employees while also protecting the company’s vital information.

Technical Support
A reliable and reachable support team is important to those who are responsible for, and working with, the scheduling system.

Analytical Reporting
Be sure to know a system’s capabilities of collecting and collating data for reports that are relevant and pertinent to the task and goal.

Potential Issues

Not all software is created equal, and one cannot implement a system on the premise of the software being the end-all solution. Whether work schedule apps are web-based or server-based within the network, a high-performing internet connection is paramount.

Some employees are hesitant about technology. This can be solved through training, positive support, and communication about the system benefits. Patience and an open-door policy will be crucial during this time.

Do not make the common mistake of under-utilizing a new system. The unrealized return on investment may not be the fault of the technology.

Latest Trends

The latest trend in business is the implementation of work schedule software into current systems. The streamlining of processes and the efficiency of operations still need the oversight of management to measure results, fine-tune the output and interpret the data.

Advancements in technology only improve the way toward productivity, employee morale, and customer satisfaction. The end game is reached when management invests in its employees and gives the workforce the responsibility of maintaining their assigned work schedule.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the system ensure that employees will only be able to swap shifts among colleagues with the same qualifications?
Yes. The software tracks and monitors compliance and the appropriate certifications for a position. The software will not allow a shift swap with another who is not qualified or has fallen out of compliance.

Can the company make sure an employee cannot clock in or out from home?
Yes. The time clock feature is locked to the company’s IP address; this means the time clock feature can only be used on the premises. There are, of course, overrides for specific employees and tasks.

What happens if an employee forgets to clock in or out?
There are always administrative overrides to manually edit or register a time in or out.

Will management or an employee know when there are changes to a schedule?
Yes. The software acts as a communication platform to send e-mails, texts or alerts of any schedule change or to push any notifications.

Will Zip Schedules streamline my company’s processes and ease the task of work-scheduling?
YES!

Zip Schedules is not the only solution by Hubworks that will streamline your business’ processes, as our whole suite of cloud-based apps is curated to make the all-important tasks of your company easier to handle. Whether your company is looking for a more effective way to track employees’ hours, a better way to monitor food safety, or, as discussed here, manage schedules, Hubworks can help you!

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