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

by Isioma Daniel, 6 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 how the return on investment will play out, or accustomed to how 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 that manual shift scheduling often slows down small businesses and holds them back. For example, Chai Guys reduced stress and simplified payroll and scheduling by shifting to a digital scheduling tool. 

Many small businesses may not realise that taking the leap to digital scheduling can save them time and money – sometimes even immediate savings, which an ROI calculator can easily demonstrate.

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 spreadsheets, handwritten notes, WhatsApp messages and countless phone calls to ensure their workforce is adequately scheduled. 

Before Deputy, Humble Crumble, the world’s first crumble bar, used group chats and messaging to track time and attendance and share shifts. This outdated approach consumed precious time and resources and threatened employee satisfaction and engagement. 

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 labour 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 revolutionise 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. Tron Theatre reduced scheduling time from 10 to 2 days at peak times, and the business saved 3 hours of admin each week with Deputy. 

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

3. Optimised Labour Costs: Accurate forecasting and demand planning minimise labour wastage and unplanned costs. Winter Wonderland reduced labour costs by 12%, and Honest Burgers have improved their demand planning since adding Deputy to their tech stack. 

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. Atlas Hotels, the biggest IHG Hotels & Resorts franchisee of Holiday Inn Express Hotels in Europe, faced these challenges head-on. "Our key challenge was change management. Getting longer-standing employees used to a digital system required a lot of patience, a mix of carrot and stick, and lots of positive reinforcement. We also trialled the new system in several hotels before launching it across all our hotels. This helped us generate word of mouth and create digital champions," says Sub Iyer, Head of Operations - South.

2. Transparency and Communication: Digital scheduling platforms foster open communication channels, enabling managers and employees to collaborate effectively. For the Castle Hotel at Taunton, Deputy’s News Feed feature has also helped make communication more business. Staff have embraced communicating through the app, with the News Feed replacing time-consuming phone calls and emails.

3. Empowering Managers: Access to insights and analytics empowers managers to make data-driven decisions, optimising scheduling processes. “Deputy has certainly saved us time from a managers point of view, in putting together schedules and signing off timesheets, and Deputy’s reporting capabilities have been invaluable for seeing costs and tracking payroll more accurately,” says Jon Peilow, the Castle Hotel’s Director of Finance.

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Practical Tips for a Seamless Transition

To maximise 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.

unlock efficiency transition from manual to digial

Unlocking efficiency and streamlining operations for small businesses has always been challenging. But by transitioning from manual to digital shift scheduling, you can revolutionise 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, discover Deputy's user-friendly solutions, and embark on a journey of efficiency and empowerment for your small business.

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