How to Get the Most Out of Your Scheduling Software
03/20/18 | 9:00AM | Posted by Rick Killings, Director of Client Services
Accurate scheduling ensures a productive workforce.
Scheduling employees is a crucial part of operations for companies with distributed workforces, and the first and easiest step to maintaining your schedules is setting them up properly. Like all things in life, stuff happens and things change, and schedules are no different. They require attention and daily review to ensure they accurately reflect the current situation. In my nearly 20 years of experience working for TEAM Software, I have found companies that are good at maintaining their schedules have fewer payroll issues and customer complaints on invoices and can provide timely financial updates to their executive leaders.
As a TEAM customer, the Personnel Scheduling module in WinTeam – TEAM’s core financial, operations and workforce management solution – is a key part of operations and workforce management. Because Personnel Scheduling feeds information directly into Accounts Receivable and Payroll, any improvement to the scheduling process directly affects other areas of the business. While streamlining of processes is a huge benefit , I think the most important benefit is that your employees and offices are better informed and able to concentrate on providing superior customer service. Plus, employees aren’t spending time worrying if their paycheck will be correct or when they’ll have the opportunity to work.
There are many ways to set up the scheduling staff for your operations, but some of the major factors to consider include: the size of your company, location and office space. No matter the number of staff, I have found that there are daily and weekly processes that can help ensure a productive workforce, along with accurate accounting data for your organization.
Run a report on the past 24 hours to see all the changes made by dispatchers. Look for changes that can affect overtime and address those immediately. These changes could include shift changes or changes in employee assignments. If you find overtime was created, dig a little further to find out why. Review the schedule immediately to see if employee hours later in the week can be adjusted to offset the potential overtime.
Following up on schedule changes is a key step that not only helps the bottom line, but helps ensure your policies and procedures are being followed and proper documentation is maintained. You can also use the information to follow up and counsel employees that have a pattern of refusing to work. This can help ensure you have the right employees scheduled at the right time and place.
- No schedule is perfect, and unfilled shifts are common. Run a report on the open positions in your schedule at the beginning of the day and keep it open. As you fill the shifts, simply refresh the report to get the updated list of which positions still need to be addressed.
As you fill shifts, keep overtime top of mind. Don’t add an employee to the schedule if will put them into an overtime status. Use your system tools to filter and query for only those employees who are under the total hours for the week. An overtime warning report is extremely helpful if you want to arrange your schedule to prevent overtime, or at the very least, avoid increasing the overtime total. If you can’t avoid overtime, it’s a good practice to record the steps taken to avoid it and the reason why, so you have documentation to back up and support your decision. For more helpful tips to reduce your overtime, check out our quick guide.
- One last report to run on a daily basis is a scheduling activity report. This type of report can provide a clear, concise picture of the daily schedules and helps ensure timely scheduling changes are made. The sooner you’re able to identify discrepancies in the schedules, the sooner you’ll be able to resolve issues like overtime.
Run an hourly billing comparison report each week so you understand how the schedule information is passed along to payroll and billing. With this type of report, review the total labor hours, labor hours paid, and hours billed, plus the ratio of the labor cost to the hours billed.
- Run a scheduling activity report on a weekly basis to review the detailed scheduled information for all jobs, along with the employee information. Add a billing recap section to the report to see the total amount per job that’s tied back to the invoiced amount. Running a report like this before sending to billing and payroll is an excellent way to identify issues, such as an employee with a zero-pay rate, and address them before billing and payroll processing.
Considering running this type of report monthly against the master schedule to get approval for any embedded overtime in the schedule proactively. That way you don’t have upper management knocking on your door looking for answers when overtime happens.
- Look at all recurring open positions monthly, so that you can update the master schedule as needed. The master schedule is the guide to the weekly schedule, so when it’s current and accurate, you have fewer changes to make each week. You can reassign employees to keep overtime minimized, as well as request additional staffing when necessary. For one TEAM customer, the second biggest cause of overtime was filling recurring open positions inaccurately. Read how they were able to reduce their overtime by 70 percent with TEAM’s scheduling software and best-practices scheduling procedures like the ones outlined here.
There’s no one-size-fits-all way to manage scheduling, but incorporating these simple steps into daily and weekly process can help ensure proper maintenance of schedules. Solid practices and accurate schedules pave the way for streamlined billing and payroll processes as well, all factors in boosting employee morale and the bottom line.