Unlocking Efficiency: How to Transition from Manual to Digital Shift Scheduling

by Isioma Daniel, 5 minutes read
HOME blog unlocking efficiency how to transition from manual to digital shift scheduling

Many small businesses are hesitant about new technology for a variety of reasons. They might be nervous about managing the change, unsure about how the return on investment will play out, or simply accustomed to the way things have always been done.  

All those reasons are valid – taking the leap and investing in technology can initially seem daunting. However, in a world where time is money and efficiency is the key to success, we must face the fact that manual shift scheduling often slows down small businesses and holds them back. For example, retailer UNTUCKit regained precious time to focus on customers and sales when they were able to cut their scheduling workload by 50% with a digital tool. 

The arduous task of managing employee shifts, juggling availability, and ensuring adequate coverage can quickly become overwhelming. But fear not, as there's a transformative solution on the horizon: digital shift scheduling

In this blog post, we'll explore the journey of several businesses as they transition from manual to digital shift scheduling, unlocking a realm of efficiency, employee empowerment, and enhanced operations.

The Current Manual Scheduling Landscape

In a small business, manual shift scheduling is often the norm. Entrepreneurs and managers find themselves buried under a pile of spreadsheets, handwritten notes, WhatsApp messages, and countless phone calls to ensure their workforce is adequately scheduled. 

Before Deputy, Ace Hardware in Thorton and Hidden Lakes, relied on spreadsheets to manage employee schedules, but it became too complicated and consumed precious time.

Small businesses operating with manual scheduling often encounter these challenges:

1. Time-Consuming Processes: Crafting schedules and managing changes becomes time-intensive, diverting focus from core business activities.

2. Inefficient Communication: Lack of real-time updates results in miscommunications and confusion among employees.

3. Unplanned Costs: Over or understaffing due to manual errors can increase labor costs.

4. Employee Burnout:  Constant scheduling changes can lead to fatigue and disengagement among your staff.

The Digital Shift Scheduling Solution

Embracing digital shift scheduling can mark a significant shift towards streamlined operations and enhanced employee experiences. With the power of technology, small businesses can revolutionize their scheduling processes and reap a multitude of benefits:

1. Efficiency Beyond Basic Scheduling: Digital scheduling tools like Deputy offer mobility, accessibility, and automation, enabling managers to create, adjust, and communicate schedules effortlessly. Take NewVine Employment Group as an example - they saved 10 hours a week on time and attendance admin since switching to smart scheduling. 

2. Real-Time Communication:Instant updates and notifications ensure that employees are always in the loop, reducing confusion and promoting accountability.

3. Optimized Labor Costs: Accurate forecasting and demand planning minimize labor wastage and unplanned costs. Ace Hardware reduced payroll costs as a percentage of sales by 10%, and Trek has improved its demand planning since adding Deputy to their tech stacks. 

4. Empowered Employees: Self-service scheduling apps empower employees to manage their availability, swap shifts, and take control of their schedules.

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Understanding and Overcoming Implementation Challenges

Transitioning to digital shift scheduling can seem daunting for the following reasons:

  1. Resistance to Change: Employees may resist new technology, especially if they're used to manual scheduling methods. This resistance can slow down the implementation process and hinder productivity.

  2. Training and Onboarding: Learning a new system can be daunting. It requires time, resources, and patience, which can challenge busy businesses.

  3. Integration with Existing Systems: Many businesses already have HR, payroll, and time-tracking software. Finding a scheduling solution that integrates seamlessly with these systems can be complicated.

But a strategic approach can pave the way for a smooth adaptation:

1. Getting Buy-In from Stakeholders: Address concerns and gain support from both management and employees by highlighting the benefits of digital scheduling.

2. Choosing the Right Scheduling Software:Evaluate solutions that align with your business's unique needs, scalability, and integration requirements.

3. Employee Training and Onboarding: Ensure a seamless transition by providing comprehensive training and guidance to your workforce.

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Adapting to the Digital Shift Scheduling Culture

Adapting to digital scheduling is not just about technology; it's a cultural shift that enhances both efficiency and empowerment:

1. Fostering Employee Engagement and Participation: Involve employees in the transition process, gather feedback, and encourage active involvement. By doing so, you can foster stronger team engagement and morale. UNTUCKit used a digital platform to accomplish just that. 

“At large, staff enjoyed a tech-forward platform. They can download an app and get their schedule or swap shifts directly on their phone. Having employees be able to get messages very quickly, you build that comradery within the stores, and within those market groups, and you get them to feel more included right away. We had staff feeling more engaged right off the bat,” says Michael Saldana, Retail Operations and Communications Manager. 

2. Transparency and Communication: Digital scheduling platforms foster open communication channels, enabling managers and employees to collaborate effectively. For Tribeca Pediatrics, Deputy’s Newsfeed feature has helped keep the whole team in the know on business communications. This has been helpful when their team wants to know about open shifts, meeting details, and what’s happening across different departments.

3. Empowering Managers: Access to insights and analytics empowers managers to make data-driven decisions, optimizing scheduling processes. 

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Practical Tips for a Seamless Transition

To maximize the benefits of transitioning to digital shift scheduling, consider these best practices:

  1. Communicate Clearly: Explain why the change is necessary, how it will benefit the company and employees, and what steps are involved in the transition.

  2. Set Clear Implementation Goals and Timelines: Define the desired outcomes of the transition and establish a timeline for implementation.

  3. Choose a User-Friendly Platform: Platforms like Deputy offer intuitive interfaces, making them easy to navigate even for less tech-savvy people.

  4. Involve Your Team: Gather feedback and address concerns from your team, ensuring a smoother transition and increased acceptance.

  5. Provide Comprehensive Training: Use tutorials, webinars, and hands-on sessions to ensure everyone is comfortable with the new system.

  6. Celebrate Milestones: Recognise achievements and milestones along the way to keep morale high and foster a positive attitude towards change.

  7. Leverage Support and Resources: Utilise the support and resources provided by your software provider. Deputy, for instance, offers 24/7 customer service and a wealth of online resources to assist in your transition.

Unlocking efficiency and streamlining operations for small businesses has always been challenging. But by transitioning from manual to digital shift scheduling, you can revolutionize your business, enhance employee experiences, and pave the way for success in a rapidly evolving business landscape. Don't wait any longer – take the first step towards a brighter future today. 

Ready to make the leap to digital shift scheduling? Sign up for a free trial and discover Deputy's user-friendly solutions and embark on a journey of efficiency and empowerment for your small business.