[LTR] Vacations. Meetings. Appointments. Shifts. Keeping track of your staff's schedule is one of the most challenging - and important - elements of a successful office. Despite this, many schedulers are still using Word or Excel to track and distribute this complex and constantly changing information.

Elements of Effective Scheduling Software

Your scheduling software should be easy to use, simple to distribute, and accessible by everyone in the office. When a change is made, it must be instantly visible by the entire staff. Some offices also require multiple forms of distribution, like fax, email, or text message. In addition, an effective workforce management software should accommodate the type of shifts you need to schedule. Some offices have staggered shifts, while others maintain consistent shifts that rotate people. The right online calendar and scheduler will grow with your changing needs and adapt to changes in staff and procedures.

Internet-based or Installed?

There are two main types of scheduling programs: Internet-based or software-based. Many group scheduling programs can be purchased with a one-time software charge or installation, although there is sometimes a monthly maintenance fee. With these programs, the schedule resides on one specific computer or server. In an Internet-based program, managers, schedulers, and employees can work on the online calendar from any computer with Internet access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Internet-based schedules are ideal for offices with staff members who spend time on the road or in other locations.

Training Requirements

Any new system involves training, which can impact staff productivity and disrupt workflow. While you want to find a workforce management tool that will meet your needs, be sure to investigate the training necessary for the new program and factor that into your decision. Many online scheduling programs are intuitive, which means that they require almost no training. When looking for scheduling software, be sure to find one that not only meets your needs but is also easy to use.


The final piece of the scheduling puzzle is the price.