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Shift Planning Software: Why You Need It And How To Use It

man working at a coffee shop

Shift planning has gotten easier in recent years with the introduction of cloud-based scheduling software and workforce management tools.

What was once a tedious organizational task with paper and pencil — or, if you were lucky, Excel or Word — is now a streamlined and strategic tool for planning, controlling costs, and communicating with your team members.

In this article, we’ll focus on the new generation of shift planning software, discuss why you need it, and give you some tips to help you integrate it successfully in your business.

What Is Shift Planning Software?

woman working on her laptop doing shift planning

Shift planning (or “scheduling”) is the act of scheduling employees to work certain jobs during certain periods of time.

For example, if you’re managing a restaurant, shift planning involves organizing your cooks, wait staff, and support personnel so that all prep, service, and clean-up hours are covered.

A mere 20 to 25 years ago, shift planning involved filling in names and jobs on a paper calendar. It was a difficult and time-consuming work that most managers dreaded.

But along came personal computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, Wi-Fi, and the cloud. These advances made it possible for managers to access powerful shift planning software like Sling.

Now, instead of spending hours planning and getting everyone organized, busy managers can create well-thought-out schedules that incorporate labor-cost and overtime controls in a fraction of the time with just a few clicks or taps.

The Benefits Of Using Shift Planning Software

Woman using shift planning software on her phone and laptop

1) Saves Time

One of the most significant benefits of using shift planning software is the time it saves.

When you incorporate scheduling software into your workday, the ease of use and straightforward functionality will help you create the perfect schedule in minutes instead of hours.

With the time you save, you can focus on improving the way you and your teams work and growing your business toward success.

2) Improves Access

Modern, cloud-based software like Sling makes it possible — and remarkably easy — to access your workforce management data anywhere, anytime.

It doesn’t matter if you’re on a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, as long as you can connect to the internet, you can create schedules, make changes, and communicate with your employees.

3) Minimizes Errors

With pen and paper — or even with tools like Excel and Word — it’s incredibly easy to make mistakes that destroy your schedule. But with shift planning software, the program itself can alert you when it detects an error.

Sling conflict notification screen

Sling, for example, incorporates a built-in artificial intelligence that keeps track of time off, hours worked, and other variables so that if you schedule something incorrectly, the software will notify you to make a change.

4) Integrates With Other Areas Of Your Business

Software designed specifically for shift planning also integrates with other digital components of your business like payroll and invoicing.

This connectivity makes other complicated jobs easier because the information is already available for use. All you have to do is click a few buttons and the software exports the data into a wide variety of reports and formats.

How To Use Shift Planning Software In Your Business

Shifts feature on Sling app

1) Build Shifts The Right Way

Instead of building your schedule by starting on Monday and working your way through to Sunday, structure shifts around your best employees.

In a restaurant, for example, this ensures that the employees most suited to each shift (i.e., the lunch rush or the slower dinner service) are working when you need them.

It also ensures that you have a core of experience on which your more-recent hires can rely.

Mixing some of your best employees with some of your newer employees is a great way to create stability across all shifts.

2) Plan For The Worst

Shift planning software makes it easy to plan for the worst. You can create an availability chart of employees who might be willing to pick up an extra shift in the event of an illness or a no-call, no-show situation.

You can also use the shift planning software to compile a list of reliable part-time employees or employees who left on good terms that you can call in the event that your “plan B” doesn’t work.

3) Set A Labor Budget

Labor cost analysis on Sling

Labor is one of the largest expenses many businesses face. The right scheduling software allows you to set a labor budget that works for your operation.

With those numbers in mind — and in the program itself — you can create a schedule that keeps your labor expenses under control and under budget.

If your schedule exceeds the budget you’ve set, the program will notify you immediately so you can make the necessary changes.

4) Create A Template

Most scheduling software includes templates that speed the process even further. Take advantage of this timesaving feature by tailoring the template to your specific needs.

When it’s time to sit down and schedule for the next week, month, or quarter, the formatting, shift slots, and other relevant information are already there.

This allows you to focus on scheduling the right employee in the right time and place to make your business run smoothly.

The Best Shift Planning Software

example of shift planning using Sling

The ideal shift planning software simplifies even the most complicated shifts so that you can sit down, make your schedule, and move on to more pressing matters.

Sling, for example, combines all the tools you need to optimize your workforce, control labor costs, stay on budget, and communicate with your team.

All of Sling’s cloud-based features — from schedule creation to time clock to payroll calculations — make it easy for you to create the best schedule possible, distribute it with ease, make changes, and juggle time-off requests.

Sling even provides suggestions and warnings when you’ve double-booked a team member or created a conflict in another part of your schedule.

All of this makes Sling the best shift planning software for simplifying your business’s work schedule.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

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