What Your Scheduling Software Should Do for You Mini-Series: UsabilityPart One: Usability
You are searching for software to make scheduling for your public safety agency easier. Scheduling is a vital function of your organization, and it’s so important that it is completed accurately without taking up countless man-hours. The right scheduling software will be easy to use and will handle any of your organization’s complex requirements and rules.
This four-part mini-series will take you through the main categories of scheduling software: usability, organizational rules, oversight and reporting, and integrations. We will help you understand what your scheduling software should do for you, so you can feel comfortable choosing the right software tool for your agency.
Part one in our mini-series is going to discuss software Usability. Your scheduling software should make day-to-day operations as easy as possible. There are three main components to usability: daily operations, , finding qualified staff, and staff communication.
The scheduling interface is one of the most important features of your software. After all, you are going to be spending most of your time here. Your schedule should be easy to understand and give you the ability to view your entire month schedule and make live scheduling changes from the same screen.
Great scheduling software will enable you to load your schedules as far into the future as your agency requires; allowing your schedulers to simply focus on daily operations, rather than building schedules from scratch every month. A huge time saver is the ability to build templates of schedules that can be applied to groups of employees. This will save you loads of time from not having to create each individual employee’s schedule.
One of the first questions you should ask yourself when evaluating a scheduling software is if it allows you to make daily changes easily. When making changes like switching shifts or putting employees on leave, is it a few simple clicks or is it a complex process?
Lastly, your scheduling should be flexible and allow for intra-shift scheduling. There are often times when your staff have to work an hour of training or go to court within a regular scheduled shift. Your program should be able to accommodate for this and reflect any corresponding pay changes on the schedule.
Finding Qualified Staff
An important function of your software system is the ability to quickly filter through staff to find who you are looking for. For example, you should be able to run a query on your employees and find staff with specific skills or training who comply with your union rules to work an overtime shift.
In addition, your scheduling solution should also show you your coverage levels down to the minute and notify you if a scheduling change puts you below minimum staffing.
Staff communication is a vital component of scheduling and should allow for easy two-way communication. Look for software that automatically notifies staff when you make a scheduling change. Your employees should be able to access their schedules and make leave, overtime and shift requests via a web portal or mobile app.
There are several scheduling software systems out there that you can choose and the most important thing you can do is do your due diligence with research. This is part one of the mini-series so make sure to check out the other four parts (organizational rules, oversight and reporting, and modules and integration) to know what to look for.
Lastly, there are two basic features that all scheduling software systems should offer you. The first is a free trial. If the company is confident in their product, they should allow you to test out the system before purchasing it. Ideally, a trial should include some of your data and employee details. And, make sure you are choosing a system with dedicated hands-on support and a 24/7 critical support line.
Kristina Obodovskiy is a Marketing Specialist at InTime. With a BBA in Marketing Management and over 4 years of marketing experience, Kristina has written guest contribution content for several organizations in the past. If you would like to connect with Kristina, find her on LinkedIn here.
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