8 min read
Feb 16, 2017
Employee Scheduling

Workplace Scheduling: Excel Alternatives to Help You Better Plan Your Shifts

Excel has its uses, but if you want to automate your small business' scheduling processes, there are several other cloud-based alternatives to consider.

Karen McCandlessAnalyst

Excel has its uses, but if you want your small business to run smoothly and your staff to turn up to serve your customers, then one of those uses should not be employee and workplace scheduling.

Imagine this scenario: It's St. Valentine's day, and you need extra staff to be scheduled to serve your customers on what would normally be a quiet Monday night. However, you forgot to share the updated Excel schedule with your employees, so only the normal staff turn up that night. Not only are your staff so rushed off their feet that they are not able to provide decent service to booked customers but you also have to turn away other diners because you simply can't cope. That's a whole host of bad reviews coming your way.

The good news is that there are several cloud-based Excel alternatives for employee scheduling. We've chosen the apps mentioned below (listed alphabetically) based on GetApp user reviews.

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Workforce management software Deputy combines employee scheduling with task management, time and attendance, and communication.

Its key features include:

  • An employee portal with self-service leave management

  • Ability to schedule employees in different locations

  • Mobile time and attendance

  • Geolocation-enabled timeclocks

  • Invoice generation based on clocked-in hours

One GetApp reviewer says, "As part of a small subsidiary that is rapidly growing, we were encountering rostering problems that necessitated greater functionality than what our Excel templates could offer, but did not call for the complexity of traditional big-company rostering solutions. Deputy offered us an intuitive cloud-based alternative that seems to grow as we do."

The reviewer reports the following benefits:

  • Real-time notifications of shift changes

  • Ability to synchronize Deputy with calendar programs

  • Greater employee management (birthdays, emails, etc.)

  • Reliable timesheets (vs. Excel)

  • Customization

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What makes workplace scheduling app Findmyshift different is that it charges per schedule rather than per employee. The key features of this alternative to Excel for employee scheduling include:

  • Tracks salaried and hourly or daily workers

  • Daily shift reminders

  • Workers can trade shifts between themselves

  • Built-in timeclock

  • Payroll reports

  • Labor costs forecasting

KD Dillon, Clinic Director at The Joint Chiropractic, says, "We converted from spreadsheets to using findmyshift, and have been very happy. We no longer have problems with employees not checking the schedule, we can email it to them. It has also helped our time off requests being tracked."

Although Dillon adds, "My only problem is when an employee forgets to clock in, we can't change the time, so we aren't using that feature. Overall saves us a lot of time making and changing the schedules and keeps our employees informed."

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Planday aims to make scheduling hourly workers simpler while also improving communication and replacing time-consuming manual processes.

Its key features include:

  • Scheduling templates

  • Assigning of shifts according to skills and locations

  • Vacation management

  • HR compliance warnings

  • Exportable payroll

  • In-app messaging

Eunice Nielsen, Vice President at CityCallCenter ApS, says, "Payday use (sic) to be a full day adventure, trying to keep track of 30 employees in an Excel sheet, calculating their supplements according to the time of work and subtracting any personnel goods. After switching to Planday payday now takes roughly an hour, and that's only because I double check everything to be sure. I still can't believe it's that easy, but it is."

Nielsen adds, "I like that it is so easy for our employees to put a shift up for sale/trade, and we no longer have to note down who switched with who. However, we still have the security of having to confirm the switch before it's activated. My favorite part though, is the compatibility with our pay system. It saves me hours."

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Humanity (formerly ShiftPlanning)

With free account setup and training, Humanity (formerly ShiftPlanning) aims to help companies with multiple offices in different locations with shift planning. Its key features include:

  • Multiple location support

  • SMS and email reminders about shifts

  • Custom reports

  • Employees can adjust upcoming availability

  • Labor goal budgeting functionality

  • Payroll integration with third-party apps

Jacob Shields, Call Center Manager at CCI Systems, says, "We were using Excel to schedule for the last 10-12 years and as we continued with steady growth, the excel sheet just became unmanageable. My employees didn't like the fact of how difficult the schedule was to read on Excel as we continued to grow the staff and a short while after implementing ShiftPlanning to my team; we implemented it with another team to be able to track who is on shift for escalations."

Shields adds, "ShiftPlanning is extremely easy to use. We easily grabbed our Excel schedule and added it into ShiftPlanning. Making changes to the schedule takes less time than before! Schedule views are awesome and make for a quick verification."

Matthew Lottes, Assistance Aquatics Supervisor at Columbia Association, says, "ShiftPlanning took my company out of the stone age of spreadsheet schedules to interactive and well organized scheduling software. We manage 27 locations within 15 miles of each other with a staff population of about 550. ShiftPlanning's FREE setup service allowed us to easily setup all our employees and locations."

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When I Work

When I Work is an all-in-one time tracking, workplace scheduling, communication and workforce management platform.

Its key features include:

  • Self-service shift scheduling

  • Off-site and departmental shift scheduling

  • Scheduling templates

  • Vacation and leave management

  • Time clock

  • Group text messaging and email

Fatima Hayek, Human Resource Director at Hayat Pharmacy, says, "We started using Excel for scheduling initially but as our business grew, so did our need to change our procedures to accommodate requests and convenience for employee team members. So, we trialled many apps and found WHENIWORK such an excellent APP and a great price!"

Adam Miles, Marketing Manager at Book That Condo, says, "If you are still creating your schedules in excel and your employees are using a punch clock, STOP. This product will bring you to the digital world in simplicity. Bottom line, it just works. I've often referred this product without hesitation to many small businesses owners because of the success I've had with it."

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Which Excel alternative for workplace scheduling would you recommend?

You've read which Excel alternatives GetApp reviewers recommend for employee scheduling, but we'd like to know which apps you recommend. Let us know by leaving a review on GetApp.

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