Scheduling software that lacks the basic efficiency functions can significantly reduce your ability to get things done. If you're considering a scheduling solution, here are a few tips to maximize value to your organization.
It is hard to argue against the benefits of using some sort of scheduling software. Not only does scheduling software make it easier to keep track of things, but it's become almost impossible to live without because the number of variables (such as availability, skills, meetings and deadlines) on any given day.
The problem some make when choosing a solution for their company is that they forget to pay attention to the things that at first may seem unimportant. Only later do they realize that small features can make a huge difference in streamlining the day and getting things done. In the same way, scheduling software that lacks the basic efficiency functions can significantly reduce your ability to get things done, and keep projects on track. If you're considering a scheduling solution, here are a few tips to maximize value to your organization.
1, Drag and Drop Functionality
One of the most convenient features of scheduling software should be an efficient drag-and-drop option. It allows the user to look at all the tasks on a calendar and move schedules around with a click of a mouse. No need to create new records or delete old ones - you can simply point, click and drag.
This feature not only allows employers and shift managers to see a previously-created schedule at a glance, but also lets them click on a job and move it to another time, another shift, location, or even re-assign the task to a different employee without having to constantly fill out new forms.
For example, if a small manufacturing business stops production on a component on short notice and must start production on a new one at a different plant or machine by the start of the next shift, the shift manager can simply click on the job and move it to the new location and add details. No need to send emails or instant-message employees to let them know of the change. The updates occur automatically, and in many cases, employees receive text or email alerts to advise them of the change.
This feature can be a real time saver, especially for those managers who need to constantly shuffle resources to maximize quality. How much time would that save you in a week? How about a month? How about a year? So if you find yourself making a lot of scheduling changes during the week, and are constantly re-allocating resources, make sure to look for a drag and drop feature in your software. It will save you significant time, and will decrease problems caused by human error (i.e. making a scheduling change and then forgetting to tell your staff about it).
2, Automatic Alerts
Scheduling software often gives managers the option of instantly alerting employees when changes are made to existing job conditions and reminder alerts to keep staff on track. Such alerts can be sent out via email (for those in the office), or via text message (for those employees in the field). Just like with the drag and drop feature, automatic alerts save you time by not having to look up email addresses or other contact information. But the other big benefit is that automatic alerts keep your staff on track. They no longer need to figure out what to do first and what to do second - their tasks are streamlined, and the automatic alerts keep them focused.
Another benefit of automatic alerts is that it keeps employees accountable. It's easy to make an excuse for dropping the ball when you have a paper calendar, but harder to explain mistakes if a number of automatic alerts were sent but were disregarded by the employee. Further, the alerts increase the number of "touch points" the company has with the employee, constantly reminding them when things are due. But unlike a manager who hovers and can causes discord, automatic alerts simply serve as a gentle push for the employee to take ownership of the work, and not just do the bare minimum.
3, Automatic Real-Time Syncing to Apps and Calendars
When managers work with programs like Excel and must make scheduling changes, they have to first make the change, save the file and then print out a new copy of the schedule for the employees. In some cases, they then have to email employees, or call those out of the office to let them know of the update. Even worse, the manager now has to go into Outlook, Google Calendar, or some other application, and update the information manually. This is bound to create mistakes. What if one of those errors is a highly important meeting? What if one of those errors is a highly important deadline that costs your company a client or a contract?
Using real time calendar syncing system means that changes are made automatically across all platforms; in your scheduling software, and in whatever calendar you use on your smart phone or other mobile device. This doesn't just help you stay on top of the moving parts of your goals, but can promote a more harmonious work atmosphere by preventing conflict, confusion, and arguments between employees and managers.
The Devil is in the Details
Scheduling software does not just benefit the manager or owner of a business and save them time and money; it also has the ability to help them communicate more effectively with a large number of employees. And that's what the best scheduling software really comes down to; effective communication and efficiency, which can only be achieved with features that easily increase automation and help us prevent mistakes in the first place. Without proper automation, you're simply using a glorified spreadsheet.