Hints & Tips
Our Top 10 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Shiftie
Published: 2021-04-29 11:01:40Read article
Deciding to update your scheduling processes can be stressful and it’s no surprise that lots of companies hang on to their painfully time-consuming manual spreadsheets long beyond the point when they should have replaced them.
We’ve had a look at some of the main reasons why companies don’t update their scheduling processes, and why they ought to consider it.
It’s no secret that changing your processes sucks. It’s usually tedious and involved, and it often takes far longer to make the changes than it would to just do the task using the existing method. No wonder there are plenty of companies which just can’t seem to find the time.
The trouble with this is that as your company grows you can find yourself spending more and more time trying to follow outdated scheduling processes and less actually getting on with the things which matter. But by that point you definitely won’t have time to change anything, so the problem just gets worse and worse. Which brings us to our advice: This is one of those things that’s worth making time for early on.
Typically you can figure out whether or not a process is worth changing based on how long it will take to change it, how much time it will save you over a period of time, and how long you’re currently spending doing the task manually, as shown in this excellent table. If you’re using a spreadsheet to manually plan shifts, update them when someone requests leave, and then frantically update them again when someone calls in sick half an hour after their shift should have started, then trust us, you’re going to save time by using a scheduling solution. You might even save your sanity at the same time.
For starters, if the scheduling system is any good it really shouldn’t be that painful to configure your account. Sure, you’ll want to customise it a bit, but when you’re already spending hours every week trying to keep your spreadsheet up to date then the time you’ll spend is almost nothing. A good scheduling system will help you to import your employees and let you automate a whole lot of what you hate about shift planning. It will also make it easier for employees to check when their shifts are, manage their own availability, and if necessary swap shifts with colleagues. You’ll save time by not having to answer the same questions ten times a day, they’ll save time by being able to double-check the plan on the fly, and the whole process will be a lot easier to follow than having hundreds of sticky notes dotted around your desk.
Let’s be clear here, when we say ‘fine’ we don’t mean ‘good’, we mean ‘it just about does the job’. That’s not the same thing, and it usually means that people aren’t happy but they’re scared of making it worse. Fear of the unknown is entirely understandable; after all, if you commit to a new system and it turns out to not be right for you then you’ve suddenly gone from ‘fine’ to ‘very not fine’.
30-day free trials don’t exactly help with this issue. Sure, they sound like a great idea, although that’s probably partly because they have ‘free’ in the name. You can play around with a system and get to grips with to it, and then enter your card details once you're ready to commit. In reality, it rarely works like that though. Instead, you sign up but there's an urgent task which you need to deal with, and then the phone rings five times back-to-back, and then it’s the weekend and you forget about your trial until you’ve only got a few days left to figure out if it’s right for you. That leaves you trying to make a decision too quickly, usually without having had a chance to test it in any real-life examples. Really, why would you agree to sign up at that stage?
To get around this we recommend looking for systems which offer unlimited trials of the key features. You can test them in your own time and make an informed decision. You may well find that your existing scheduling processes are actually better than you thought – in that case, happy days, you can stick with what you know safe in the knowledge that it actually is fine. But if your test has highlighted how horribly archaic your system is then you can move to the software with confidence that it really is the right move for you. You may even find that although the trial system is better than your current process it’s still not quite right. In that case you can justify committing time to trialling other systems until you find that right fit.
Reluctant staff can be a real killer when you’re trying to introduce new systems. Yes, the new software might save you hours every week, but is it worth it if you’re just going to spend your new-found free time dealing with employee complaints?
Thankfully, the answer to this one should be nice and simple; choose intuitive software. Yes, your staff will probably still be aghast at the idea of learning a new system but once they start using it and realise that it’s far easier than the old method the complaints should die off pretty quickly. Make sure that you look at the trial system from an employee's perspective as well as your own; better still, get a member of the team who will actually be using it to test it, too.
Try to look out for systems which have hints and tips built-in, as well as a comprehensive user guide. You don’t want to end up sat on hold with the software’s support team every time you have a question. Ideally, software should be set out in a way which makes sense to you before you’ve even started using it; if it’s too complicated with different sections and settings scattered all over the place then your team will be right to be frustrated. The right system will make your employees’ lives easier in the long-run, making sure that they have the information they need when they need it, and that they can manage their availability without having to bug you.
Ah, now we’re getting to it. Much as you might wish it otherwise, the price of a scheduling system can often be the deciding factor in whether to upgrade or stick with your horrible-but-free spreadsheet.
Our advice here is to find software with a variety of pricing bands. Sure, the lower bands might not give you all of the bells and whistles, but honestly neither does your spreadsheet so it’s still a significant upgrade. Besides, you can always switch to a fancier plan in the future once you can justify it.
It’s also worth considering the fact that good scheduling software should actually save you money. No, really. For a start, you’ll spend less time planning your schedule and more time focusing on everything else, so you’ll be able to add more value to the company personally. You’ll also be able to schedule more intelligently. Using proper software you can keep a close eye on shift costs and distributing employees across shifts based on their pay grades and skill sets so that you don’t end up having to pay for overtime by accident or assigning more employees to a shift than necessary. Compared to that the software cost should quickly pale into insignificance, or at least break even with your spreadsheet but with considerably less stress.
Ultimately, all of the reasons to not upgrade your scheduling processes boil down to it being slightly inconvenient. Let's face it, if the software you find is good enough then that really shouldn’t be enough of an excuse. Seeing as there’s no time like the present, why don’t you start by signing up for a free trial to see if it could help you to throw away your spreadsheet? We may not turn out to be the perfect solution for you, but it can’t hurt to give us a try seeing as we meet all of the criteria which we’ve entirely biasedly set out above.