A survey done on behalf of H&R Block found that the average participant reported having only 26 minutes of free time per week. It is no wonder that 59 percent of survey participants also said they find it extremely difficult to balance work and their personal schedules. On average, each person was also putting off about 14 things on their to-do list as of the date that they were being surveyed.
When it comes to professional life, the statistics are even grimmer. There are 25 million meetings held in the United States every day. Scheduling all of the demands on our time is extremely difficult. To fit all of the things you need to do in one day, scheduling and planning properly are absolutely required.
If you own or manage a business, scheduling is even more important because you have so many demands on your time. Your team also needs to be able to use and adhere to a schedule as well. If scheduling methods do not work properly, your team will not be where you need them to be, when you need them to be there. Technology can be a great tool to assist with scheduling challenges.
What is Scheduling Software?
Scheduling software is a general term that can refer to a myriad of scheduling tools used within a business. It can include employee scheduling (such as shift scheduling), but it can also involve appointment scheduling and similar practices as well. These two types of scheduling often overlap and are generally considered interconnected.
For example, you likely schedule your team members based on how busy you expect your business to be at a specific time. If you know that Tuesday evenings are your busiest days, you make sure that you have increased staff support during that time. Suppose you use a method where clients schedule appointments ahead of coming to your business. In that case, you can review these appointments to determine how many people you need to effectively service those customers and staff accordingly.
Scheduling software allows you to match up customer needs with staffing requirements. In general, planning correctly using scheduling software will increase customer satisfaction and decrease staff frustrations.
Using scheduling software has a lot of very specific benefits for your team and your customers as well.
The Top 10 Benefits of Using Scheduling Software
- Decreased Time Necessary to Create Schedules
According to one survey, the average restaurant manager spends between one and eight hours every week creating an employee schedule. The size of the business, number of employees, and unique staffing needs will all impact how quickly and effectively a schedule can be created.
Scheduling software can dramatically decrease the time that employees work on scheduling. It can quickly review prior schedules and create draft schedules. It can even examine customer statistics when paired properly with customer counters (and similar technology) to determine when your busiest times may require additional staffing.
With proper integration, scheduling software can automatically add staff to adjust for increased times of demand. If you have an appointment-scheduling model, for example, the software can review requested appointments and automatically make changes to the schedule based on the number of appointments already scheduled.
You can also set up notifications so that employees receive reminders about upcoming shifts, appointments, or other obligations. This type of assistance cuts down on forgotten or missed shifts or appointments, and it can even help with ensuring that workers report to their working location on time in some cases.
Both employees and customers can make changes to the schedule that affects them without involving you or your management team. Employees, for example, can make shift changes as long as certain criteria are met, such as swapping shifts instead of canceling shifts. Customers can also see available times and alter their appointment as necessary, without ever picking up the phone to speak with your team.
Some scheduling software also provides employees with a method to communicate with one another to request shift swaps or ask others to cover their shifts. Management does not need to take up their time dealing with this issue or being part of the conversation, as long as the employee can find coverage.
Communication among employees to ensure that shifts are covered has actually been shown to be good for team mentality as well. This increase in collaboration can have positive effects on the overall morale of your crew.
- Easy Access
Employees can easily access the schedule from virtually anywhere. Instead of referring to a paper schedule in the break room, for example, they can review the schedule on their phone at any time they need that information. Again, this type of access cuts down on the amount of involvement that owners or managers need to have in this process.
Some scheduling software programs also include a mobile app. Most employees today have a smartphone, which makes schedule access even easier.
- Visual Calendar Management
When using scheduling software, you can often see what a particular calendar looks like in a visual way. It is not just a line item with a listing of appointments. Instead, employees can see specific days on a calendar or blocks of time portioned off for specific scheduling needs.
Being able to see calendar information also allows for faster, more efficient scheduling. Instead of going back and forth via email to pick a meeting time, for example, everyone can see available time slots to schedule meetings more effectively.
- Real-time Information
Scheduling software not only provides general information, but it can update that information as it changes. If two employees are swapping shifts, for example, management can see that change immediately—and approve it if necessary.
Other workers also know who should be present at any given time, so they can let management know if there are any problems with coverage.
- Customer Access After Hours
Customers can schedule appointments even after your business has closed with easy-to-use scheduling software. According to one survey, more than one-third of customer appointments are scheduled after business hours. Roughly 90 percent of clients prefer the option to book appointments online.
The same can be said about employee shifts as well. Employees can make shift changes, including volunteering for additional shifts, even while you are closed, without having to contact management. If they want to sign up for extra working time in the middle of the night, they can do that without bothering their supervisor.
- Fewer Scheduling Mistakes
When employees and clients can easily access the schedule and get reminders about shifts and appointments, there are far fewer instances where someone does not show up for an appointment or shift. General scheduling mistakes are also less frequent.
- Coordination with Payroll and Billing
Having scheduling software also assists with payroll and billing. You can easily confirm when an employee worked based on the schedule (and any time clock system) to ensure payroll is processed properly. You can track overtime in the same way as well. Many scheduling software options have built-in payroll integrations that make weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly pay periods simple to process.
Billing clients that make their own appointments can be easier too. If you bill by the hour or by appointment, it is easy to visually see how much each bill should be with a quick review of the calendar.
- Urgent Scheduling Messaging
Managers and supervisors can also often send out urgent messages to fill last-minute shift needs directly through the scheduling software. This type of communication makes dealing with these emergency situations easier and far less time-consuming. There is no need to go through a phone list or send out individual text messages—the shift coverage can simply be first come, first serve.
Scheduling Software: The Must-Have Tool for Businesses Today
Whether you are scheduling employee shifts or customer appointments, using scheduling software has far too many benefits to be ignored. It can significantly increase communication, productivity, and transparency. It saves time for management, customers, and employees. It adds a layer of convenience that every stakeholder in your company can appreciate.
At Ombori, our team provides queue management solutions, appointment booking technology, and many other technology-based tools that help employees and customers engage with one another more effectively and efficiently—creating a better experience for everyone. Learn more about what Ombori has to offer by reviewing Our Solutions or by booking a demo.