Operations Management Articles

Time Flies – but Scheduling Apps Can Make You the Pilot!

by Hadley Jones
Published on 17 November 2014

SC_sticky-notes_495x350You can always make more money. But when time has gone, it's gone forever. That makes scheduling a crucially important activity for any business. But scheduling is more than getting your personal agenda sorted out. It's about getting everybody's activities in sync to add up to profitability, instead of canceling out in confusion. It's about clear control, information and feedback with a team whose members may be in the office or out and about serving customers. The right scheduling app can help you get time back on your side.

Good schedule management is like flying a plane. You have to keep moving forwards or else you'll fall out of the sky. Good scheduling can be complex too. Sticky notes are no answer and using a manual spreadsheet in an application like Excel soon leads to headaches. You need a better solution that automates the process - a purpose-built scheduling app to help you get it right, efficiently, effectively and above all - fast.

5 Benefits of Proper Scheduling

Match the needs of the business with the availability of staff on any given day.

  • Match specific requirements with specific staff skills.
  • Trade shifts suitably, reliably and easily between team members.
  • React fast (in advance) to staff absences.
  • Forecast payroll expenses for hours worked, overtime and extra help

5 Bad Consequences if You Don't Schedule Properly

  • Schedule conflicts with two people turning up to do the same job
  • Missed messages, unheeded alerts and unfilled shifts
  • No central clocking in or out, leaving management in the dark
  • No metrics, no tracking of efficiency or profitability
  • Stressed-out staff and management credibility in a tail spin

By centralizing scheduling actions and making employee access available over mobile computing devices (smartphones and tablets), all of these problems can be avoided.

How Far Do You Need to Plan Ahead?

In a perfect world, you would know how your planning looked for months ahead. But we live in the real world. Customer requirements change, like business objectives and employees come and go, sometimes at the drop of a hat. Scheduling software can let you manage last-minute changes and unforeseen events. It can suggest replacement personnel based on specific skillsets and log the changes so that your payroll and billing records stay straight too.

Scheduling App Functionality to Boost Efficiency and Productivity

Scheduling apps available via GetApp offer many useful functions. The following specific examples will get you started. Click the links to find out more about a particular app and to compare with others using GetApp's handy comparison feature.

  • Mobile scheduling ( When I Work Scheduling). Web-based access allows browser-based access. Native iPhone and Android applications take advantage of specific smartphone capabilities.
  • Shift swaps ( NimbleSchedule). Scheduling is always at the mercy of priority changes, absence for illness, or customer demand. Smart software automatically seeks out suitable replacements for you.
  • Geo-locatable time clocking ( Deputy). If you can't be there yourself to check, this lets you make sure that employees are clocking in from a specific work location, rather than from home (for example).
  • Financial reporting ( Wintac). Integrate employee hours and timesheets into an accounting application like Quickbooks for example, to save time in payroll and billing activities.
  • CRM integration ( WorkflowMax). When your employee scheduling is driven by market demand and customer orders, manage conversations and leads to convert directly into daily or weekly planning.
  • Drag and drop scheduling ( Kickserv). Move schedules around on screen and let the software immediately figure out what works or help you find better solutions.
  • Customer portal ( Synchroteam). Enhanced customer management for entering and updating customer details, sites and site equipment inventory.
  • Reporting and analytics. Statistics can give you valuable insights into trends and requirements to hire in or redeploy personnel. Move with the times and stay in the driving seat.

For Each Type of Enterprise, a Scheduling App

The more dynamic your scheduling environment, the stronger the case for using an intuitive scheduling app that is simple and effective. And the more you can plan ahead (planned maintenance, for example), the more you can delve into schedule optimization through reporting and analytics. Some scheduling apps offer both possibilities.

  • Same location, multiple daily shifts (for example, restaurants, and bars). A priority is for intuitive functionality for employees to use when they log on to clock in or out. When I Work Scheduling and Deputy could be good choices here.
  • Multiple job sites including home working (construction, teleworking). Deputy offers geolocalization. When I Work Scheduling lets you view all locations from one central point.
  • Shift duration rules and regulations (medical, transport or others). NimbleSchedule offers alerts and overtime rule definition to avoid situations where shift duration overruns set limits.
  • Sales and Weather dependent demand (outdoor events). Several scheduling apps (for example, Deputy) let you handle these situations to respond to changeable conditions.
  • Staff needs access to specific inventory (equipment maintenance or repair). To manage inventory as well as generate planning from CRM and work orders, Wintac or Synchroteam may be what you're looking for.
  • Your employee services and time are billed to customers (plumbing, electrical work, for example). WorkflowMax also handles quotes and estimates before employee time spent, as well as invoicing afterwards.
  • Customers request immediately billable services (cleaning, onsite IT repairs). Bidding and estimating with CRM integration, and credit card payment tracking afterwards is available from Kickserv, for instance.
  • You use other calendaring and office applications too (app integration). Deputy and When I Work Scheduling both offer integration with Google Calendar for example.

If one or more of the examples above matches your situation or needs, try a trial version of the scheduling application that suits. Check out the GetApp list of scheduling apps, find out which one you and your staff like best, and for optimal scheduling and enterprise growth, the sky's the limit!


Apps mentioned in this article