Appointments, calendar invites, meetings, resources, people, equipment, bookings. There’s no avoiding the fact that everyone has to manage their time, the companies time or other employees time, and a portion it to different activities somehow and although it goes by many names, we’re talking about our schedules.
Now, there are lots of different ways and means to handle the scheduling of something, whether it’s a staff rota, office equipment, or room allocations. It might be that you use a paper calendar on a door, a big whiteboard in an office, or something more digital such as a spreadsheet or dedicated scheduling tool.
But, there’s a trade off involved depending on what choice you make and pros and cons involved. So, let’s take a look at the 4 most popular ways of scheduling your business resources and the good parts and bad parts.
When we talk about manual scheduling, we’re really talking about those laborious processes that usually involve a physical schedule (calendar, document, notebook) and some key person appointed to keep it up to date.
In a modern working environment it’s really not a winning solution anymore. The biggest two drawbacks being that there’s very little access to the schedule outside of the office (unless you can dial in and have someone repeat it over the phone), and it can become a really painful exercise in keeping it up to date. You’ll either have to wait for someone to do it - potential long delays - or update it yourself - introduces risk of errors.
It might be that your schedules are somewhat digital, but this tends to stop at a Microsoft Excel sheet tucked away on a shared company drive, only accessible by one person at a time. ProsData is safe from digital theft
A bright schedule might give a dull office wall a talking point
Spreadsheets allow for some formulas and basic reporting
No shared access or very limited shared editing
High risk of information errors
Tedious to keep up to date
Backups can be problematic
Basic Digital Scheduling
Now we’re talking, we’re moving into the modern age and opening up a world of possibilities from sharing and collaboration, to keeping the data secure and backed up. There are still drawbacks, such as limited capacity for sharing or remote access, but it should be a lot easier to work in a centralised place.
The biggest drawback is finding a solution that works for your particular office environment and getting it configured in the first place.
For example, if your office is well versed in Microsoft Office then Outlook is a common choice. However, Outlook can be clunky to work with and configure across different devices for different users.
One of the plus sides is that by creating a shared office schedule calendar, everyone can see, at a glance, what’s allocated where and when and to whom, whilst enabling some limited scope for editing or amending.
Allows for greater centralisation of data
Depending on what your business uses, it can be cloud based allowing for remote access
Can be shared to users to allow for better editing and scheduling responsibilities
Controlling access can be tricky
Soon becomes crowded with lots of resource to plan
So is limiting users’ capabilities - tends to be all or nothing
Can be difficult to get going initially as well as maintaining moving forward
Not a great solution for businesses with a mixed set of office applications
Dedicated Paid Solution
There are a few out there to choose from, including our very own Schedule It, but by choosing the smaller, dedicated applications give you a great balance between functionality, set up, learning curve and price.
This doesn’t mean you have to compromise on features or power as cloud-based SaaS solutions, like Schedule It, are built to address gaps in the market or to offer a genuine alternative to their more complex and costly enterprise cousins. For example, Siemens trust us to run their scheduling needs for thousands of resources through our software and they’re more than happy with the results.
Whilst there is a learning curve involved with any tool, because this type of software isn’t all things to all men, it’s usually a shallow curve that’s easily worked through.
The biggest drawback can sometimes be the need to change the culture and working processes of a business and to migrate the previous working methods to a new system.
All the features you want and need for scheduling, with few that you don’t
Allows for the ultimate collaborative workspace
Dedicate mobile and tablet apps mean you can work from wherever and on whatever platform you choose
Cloud-based, so always available, secure, and backed up
Integrations with other systems, such as Microsoft Office and Google’s GSuite
Can be used to schedule multiple business resources from equipment to employees and more
Managing the migration from previous (maybe manual) processes to a new way of working
Introduces a cost, however small that may be
Learning curve to introduce and use a new system
Enterprise Level Application
When we talk about an enterprise level solution, we’re into the big leagues and heavy hitters of scheduling, including software such as SAP and Microsoft Dynamics.
These are the daddies of the business management world and come with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a large corporation offering software solutions to huge businesses.
They certainly deliver the goods and large organisations trust them to deliver on business management applications such as CRM, sales and field servicing and project automation, as well as resource scheduling.
However, the big downsides are usually too many features and costs. For example, Microsoft Dynamics gives you the works when it comes to managing projects, sales, field agents and more, but this comes at a base price of just over £71 per user per month. Even in a small team of, say, 10 people, you’re looking at over £700 a month.
And, it’s possible you won’t need half of what it offers, especially if you’re really looking for a better scheduling solution that really just focuses on effectively scheduling of resources.
Very well experienced and proven solutions
Good integration points with other systems
User roles to limit and manage different levels of access and control
Can be cloud-based, which is great for reducing infrastructure costs
Covers many other business management aspects beyond resource scheduling
Bloat - if you need all the features, then great. Otherwise, you’re paying a big price for things you may not need
Big learning curve
Depending on the level you purchase, you may need the internal IT infrastructure to run and manage the system