Are you Scheduling with Excel Spreadsheets?
by Mark Ballance "Time Saving Addict"Last updated on Nov 12, 2014
As technology advances more comprehensive options are becoming available to create schedules, keep track of performance, keep track of time, and give everyone a more predictable schedule, which leads to better performance.
How to Save TimeWhile Excel was designed to be user friendly, it can be time consuming when managers have to enter each employee's individual information into it for scheduling purposes. It's even more difficult when it comes to tracking employee hours, including overtime. Why is this the case? Excel was not developed specifically for scheduling purposes. It's meant to be a versatile tool that can be used in many areas of business, and its effectiveness is strictly dependent on the user's ability to think of all the necessary formulas and alerts.
For example, unless you build in formulas to create automatic alerts for scheduling conflicts, your spreadsheet won't tell you there's a mistake. If an employee is about to incur overtime, the spreadsheet won't remind you if you forgot to input the formula for it. That helpful little paper clip cartoon that used to jump around asking you if you needed help is simply not smart enough to think of these things unless you build them into the spreadsheet.
Scheduling software, on the other hand, is specifically designed to think of these things for you, so that you can spend your time more efficiently, without having to double check the formulas or think of potential problems. Good scheduling software will significantly reduce errors and will give you instant, updated reports, allowing you to make decisions real time.
Ease of Information SharingUsing scheduling software saves both managers and employees a great deal of time by simplifying the sharing of information. With a spreadsheet, you either have to make it available via Google docs or a shared folder on your network, or to separately contact each employee with scheduling information every time there is a change. Software, on the other hand, is usually available for everyone to view via the Web or can easily be sent to someone's e-mail and viewed on a mobile device. This doesn't just save time, but reduces the inadvertent errors that can be made during the communication process, when schedules are being transferred from Excel into an email.
Employees can view the schedule on their own, print out a copy for themselves, see where they will be working, and even request changes if there's a personal conflict. Because changes are saved instantly, employees can see them reflected in real time, instead of taking time away from work to ask about the schedule just because they haven't received a confirmation.
Promote Employee FocusWhen employers use scheduling software, they provide their employees with greater focus because when everyone has access to the weekly schedule via the Web or some other shared platform, they become responsible for it. When an Excel schedule is created and hung up in the break room or some other common area, employees who are not at work often have to call in and ask coworkers what their hours are, and then try to make changes. This takes focus and time away from the employee who is on the clock and encourages the coworkers to chat on the phone. In a business where customer satisfaction depends on how quickly they are served, this can be a real drag on performance and repeat business.
Reducing ConflictsManagers who use scheduling software will find that when employees can visually see the hours they have worked, on a real time basis, and that they are being efficiently tracked, there are fewer questions about whether or not they are being paid fairly. This is not possible to do efficiently and in real time with an Excel spreadsheet. Instant alerts concerning overtime and missed days are also a plus, as they will remind both the employee and the shift manager of such occurrences when payroll is being prepared.
With all of these benefits it's easy to see why so many businesses are turning to scheduling software to help them run their day-to-day activities. Scheduling software is simply more intuitive and can help you prevent problems with numerous alerts and real time reporting that Excel spreadsheets simply can't.
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