Why Buy Employee Scheduling Software?
The top performers in our review are ShiftPlanning, the Gold Award winner; NimbleSchedule, the Silver Award winner; and WorkSchedule.Net, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 software applications.
You already know the amount of work involved in growing and maintaining your business. In addition to the endless meetings, customer service and inventory issues (plus other emergencies that require your immediate attention), there are tedious tasks like tackling mountains of paperwork. Often, you're pulled away from important tasks to take care of menial duties. When are you supposed to find time to create and manage your employees' schedules?
You can't get more hours in a day, but what if you could recoup much of the time you spend figuring out employee schedules, tracking the hours employees have worked and juggling time off and open shifts? Employee scheduling software can help reduce the time and stress involved in creating employee work schedules, freeing you up to handle more pressing issues at hand.
Every business needs an easy system to both schedule and track each employees' time. In addition to employee scheduling software, time tracking and management software can help you oversee time-management responsibilities, scheduling and time-off requests.
Each business varies in how they record time and performance. Time and attendance systems help employers manage schedules and performance. If your company has multiple locations, you may want to consider time card software to track the location(s) your employees worked at and for how long. It also helps you know where to send invoices when a project is completed. For more information, read our articles about employee scheduling software and other time tracking and scheduling solutions.
Employee scheduling software stands apart from other time tracking solutions by focusing on scheduling on a week-by-week basis. While you can create schedules days, weeks, even months in advance, this type of software has a more specific focus.
The best applications let employees sign on, request time off, pick up open shifts, and swap shifts with co-workers; a manager simply approves the requests. Suddenly, those mind-numbing hours of scheduling are gone and reduced to a task that's akin, timewise, to checking your email.
Most employee scheduling software works as an online service. Most providers offer subscriptions on both a month-by-month and yearly basis. Prices are typically based on the number of employees your company has.
Employee Scheduling Software: What We Evaluated, What We Found
Top Ten Reviews' hands-on testing is designed to simulate typical, real-world experiences. For our tests on each employee scheduling application, we evaluated the full-featured free trial for each platform. The companies had no input on our testing methodology, and our rankings were not shared with them prior to publication.
To get the most out of employee scheduling software, look for an application that will increase efficiency and efficacy with the right tools and features. Ultimately, you need the scheduling software to be user-friendly for both managers and employees, but it should also pack powerful scheduling tasks.
When we tested each of the scheduling programs on our lineup, we evaluated how intuitive and easy the tools were from both an administrative and employee standpoint. Our evaluation included analyzing the features that both employers and employees use on a consistent basis: creating a schedule, submitting time-off requests and other common tasks.
We created a user functionality score that reflects how user-friendly and error-free the software is. Below is more on the administrator and employee features we looked at that helped determine the score of each software.
Feature Set: Scheduling Tools for Administrators
Automatic Schedule Creation
During testing, we evaluated how easy it is for an employer to create a schedule for employees. We looked for features, like automatic schedulers and automatic email and text message confirmations, that improved this tedious process.
All of the software applications on our lineup advertise automatic schedulers; however, some require you to manually input information. For example, Scheduling does not create a schedule automatically; instead, you save previous calendars and use them as a template to automatically fill standing shifts.
Others, like Snap Schedule and ShiftPlanning, automatically create schedules based on open shifts and employee availability. These applications received higher usability scores.
Similarly, all services have email reminders; however, only some automatically send email confirmations immediately after publishing a schedule. While you can adjust the settings so employees are notified of any updates following certain actions, we awarded the best score to programs that were preconfigured with these settings.
Other Convenience Features
We looked for convenience features, including drag-and-drop functionality, scheduling conflict notices and setup wizards. When you are setting up the scheduling software for your organization, having a wizard that guides you through the entire process helps significantly. There are several different aspects, including setting up shifts, defining departments and positions, and inputting employee availability that you must complete first for the software to work seamlessly for you and your employees.
Certain convenience features, specifically drag-and-drop functionality and scheduling conflict warnings, were particularly useful. Drag and drop significantly improved usability and sped up the process while conflict warnings alerted us to scheduling overlaps or employees who were close to surpassing the maximum allowable hours. While all of the programs have schedule conflict warnings, the quality and functionality varied greatly.
NimbleSchedule, TimeForge Scheduling, WhenToWork, ShiftPlanning, Planday and Zip Schedules offered the most useful calendar tools that not only alerted us to conflicts but also offered detailed information, including the date and time of the conflict and the conflicting employee's name.
Feature Set: Scheduling Tools for Employees
When evaluating ease of use from the standpoint of an employee, we performed common tasks like adjusting an availability schedule, swapping shifts with coworkers, submitting time-off requests and bidding on open shifts, if the feature was available. We found significant variability between each scheduler.
Each work schedule-maker allows employees to set up their availability so managers do not book them when they cannot work. This feature helps reduce shift swapping and may help motivate your employees to work when they can.
Online Shift Swap
Most of the software on our lineup allows your employees to swap shifts, with the exception of Scheduling. This program allows employees to set their availability and submit time off to eliminate the need for swapping shifts. However, if a scheduling conflict comes up, employees using Scheduling cannot switch shifts without involving their employer, diminishing the usefulness of this online scheduler.
Bid on Open Shifts
Only some of the scheduling programs we evaluated allow employees to bid on open shifts. Two of our top-rated products offer this feature, NimbleSchedule and Snap Schedule, giving employees more control over their shifts each week as well as reducing changes after a schedule has been published.
We evaluated the time-off feature of each program. Some platforms doubled the employee availability function as a way for employees to designate times they could not work and would need time off. However, most applications, especially our higher-rated schedulers, offered time-off requests that employees could customize to reflect the type of leave they were taking.
Another important function of scheduling software is whether it provides easy-to-understand reports. The best applications allow you to create standard reports as well as the ability to customize them to help you spot weaknesses in your staffing. For example, you should be able to see, with a single click, a report that shows the total employee hours; that kind of report is valuable if you want to avoid overtime hours for any of your employees and comply with overtime regulations.
Look for software that offers daily, weekly and monthly reporting options. The most advanced applications allow you to generate time-off summaries as well.
Employee Scheduling Software: Our Verdict & Recommendations
Employee scheduling software's varied functionality can save you time, freeing you up to devote more of your energy to your business. ShiftPlanning, NimbleSchedule and WorkSchedule.Net offered the most functionality while still maintaining usability for both administrators and employees.
ShiftPlanning offers a full feature set while still maintaining a user-friendly interface. We found that the scheduling tools were easy to use for mundane tasks, like submitting a time-off request, to more complicated ones, like setting up a monthly schedule for 20 employees. This program offers advanced features as well that help speed the scheduling process. Both the auto scheduler and drag-and-drop features make this software easy and convenient to use.
NimbleSchedule and WorkSchedule.Net are both affordable solutions that offer extensive scheduling and reporting tools. These platforms help employers create schedules with convenience features, such as automatic schedulers, drag-and-drop functionality and schedule conflict warnings. You also can create a variety of reports with these programs that help you evaluate how your employees' time is spent. Despite the advanced features, these platforms maintain usability for all types of users, earning them second and third place, respectively.