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10 things to consider when buying employee scheduling software

Workforce management software is an excellent solution to optimising your employee scheduling. However with hundreds of available suppliers, how do you determine which is best?

In this guide, we share what to look for in a top-rate workforce management system. 

Must-have features of workforce management software

Simple Usability 

It might sound obvious, but the first thing to consider when it comes to workforce management systems is usability. As digital software continually evolves, as does consumer expectations. Employees are accustomed to using seamless B2C apps in their personal life. Therefore the platforms we provide in business must be up to scratch.

Employee scheduling is no exception. Used by hundreds if not thousands of employees across the globe, your system must be simple and enjoyable to use. 

Look for basic user-friendly features such as automatic notifications, an integrated workflow and easy task management from desktop to mobile. Additional tools including saved shifts, drag-and-drop and copying templates also heighten usability, delivering a seamless experience for all employees.

Enterprise-level security 

Trusting a new system with employee data is a concern for any business but even more so when they contain confidential or financial information. Workforce management systems therefore must be extremely secure.

Seek out software that takes security seriously and promises to safeguard data for large enterprises. GDPR compliance is demonstrated by ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 certifications whilst authentication standards such as single sign-on offer increased security and reduced password theft. This factor coincidentally also contributes to a better user experience by streamlining login.

Mobile-app 

You might not want to encourage staff to be on their phones during work, but in today’s modern world, mobile-friendly technology is a must. In fact not having a mobile app can be the difference between employees using the system, or not.

For deskless workers who don’t have easy access to a company intranet, shared platform or even emails, this is even more important. Manual systems not only creates a division in who receives what company communications - affecting motivation and engagement - but can be an unnecessary hurdle in job productivity. 

Therefore, mobile workforce management systems are vital. Your chosen software must be inclusive to all staff by providing an app that functions across iOS and Android smartphones, as well as tablets for store teams. This means users can create, edit and view rotas on the go, ensuring your investment is used to its full potential. The alternative option of a clunky manual system can actually create more work for managers who end up double entering rotas or T&A data as and when required rather than to optimise their workflow.

Lastly, remember to check your organisation’s browser compatibility as not all suppliers’ software supports every browser!

Integrated Reporting 

Analytics are a crucial feature of any operational system - they help us to understand what’s working, and what needs improvement. In workforce management software, this provides insights into everything from payroll to staff per location. 

However the ability to integrate reporting with other analytical suites, such as Power BI, is what makes an employee management system top of its game. Benefit from built in reports that can not only be customised to your exact requirements, but which seamlessly integrate with your business insights.

Time and attendance / timesheets 

Workforce management scheduling capabilities must include time and attendance software. This not only avoids the complexity of installing another piece of hardware but additionally reduces the cost of time theft, a major issue for shift-based organisations.

With geofencing and photo capture technology, WFM software provides an advanced solution to time tracking. Employees can clock in and out from their smartphone, allowing managers to maintain a real-time view of staff per location. 

Audited timesheets are then able to automatically account for time worked vs time scheduled - meaning your payroll team can ensure staff are paid correctly with additional approval workflows. This eliminates common payroll errors and reduces the time spent manually collating required data. 

Staff absence management

Online workforce scheduling digitises the administrative task of leave management. Rather than coping with paper request forms and a time consuming manual process, benefit from a simple workflow accessible to all team members from HR to individual employees.

The upgrade to a standard absence management system is the ability to go beyond annual leave. Specialist WFM software allows users to track everything from sickness and compassion to jury duty and maternity/paternity. With this data stored in one place, managers can remove duplicate processes, easily viewing, approving or rejecting requests across multiple locations. This data is then automatically updated within the staff rota. 

HR teams are also able to set maximum rules and leave restrictions to prevent too many employees being out of work simultaneously. This is especially helpful with the use of block periods during the school holidays or Christmas.

Employees will also benefit from not chasing leave requests. Automatic notifications can be sent straight to their smartphone where they can also track their allowance as a full rate or in accruals.

Flexibility 

Deskless teams are often faced with barriers to achieving a positive work-life balance. However with workforce management software, organisations can easily nurture a culture of flexible working without negative consequences.

Within a self-service system, employees can gain control of their scheduling by swapping shifts, updating their availability and viewing the latest rota. Push notifications also keep staff in the loop of new available shifts as well as status updates and shift reminders. By empowering their workers to autonomously self-roster, businesses benefit from increased employee engagement and higher productivity rates.

System integrations 

A workforce management solution that can integrate with other systems will require much less time and money to implement. Whilst this is particularly important when it comes to payroll and HCM system integration, it can also be game changing for temporary staffing systems or booking platforms too!

At Rotageek, we have integrations with all the major payroll & HCM providers, we can integrate with other various top providers in their fields, including Qudini’s virtual queuing system, Locum’s Nests’ digital staff banks and Yoobic’s task management platform for frontline workers.

Demand forecasting 

Employee scheduling systems can improve labour match to customer demand alignment by up to 25% compared to traditional methods. By integrating an in-built forecasting engine with likeminded data (such as RetailNext’s footfall analysis), the technology can accurately predict customer demand for even more accurate rotas.

This feature can also forecast labour demand for different tasks or multi-locations, increasing NPS scores and conversion rates too.

Auto scheduling 

Whilst not common to all workforce management solutions, automation and optimisation of your scheduling is a really compelling feature to look out for. More commonly called ‘Autoscheduling’ this utilises AI-algorithmic technology to free up management time for more value-adding work (think, coaching team members or engaging with customers,) by creating rotas that better match team member’s shifts to customer demand while also improving employee experience. As an output an optimised schedule is created that is not only fair, compliant and on-budget - but, also perfectly matched to customer forecasted demand, all in as little as 30 seconds.

Here at Rotageek, we are pioneering the Autoscheduling functionality in retail by taking a different approach to other solution providers. Where other platforms create a set of ideal shifts and do their best to fill them, our data driven, optimisation engine generates millions of combinations of schedules in seconds, only proposing a final rota where every shift is perfectly assigned. This ensures minimum and target skill coverage for exceptional service and increases employee satisfaction by also considering employee availability, working patterns and preferences too!

True Autoscheduling optimises rotas by creating and assigning shifts in tandem, generating millions of combinations of schedules and only proposing a final schedule where every shift is assigned to a worker. Recently deployed with global retailer Gap in the UK and Europe, Rotageek has contributed to an uplift in sales through increases in average basket size and conversion as well as delivering a 7% increase in customer satisfaction in store.


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Rota software should do more than just schedule smarter. Find out more about Rotageek’s leading workforce management software today.