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There are many challenges to managing a business. As a manager, you are responsible for creating schedules for both your clients and employees. Maintaining schedules is important because it keeps everything orderly at work. Without an employee schedule, productivity drops because nobody knows what they need to do, or even when they are supposed to come in. Appointment schedules keep your business organized and ensure none of your customers are neglected. You can also use your schedules as an archive to study business productivity and make records of new clients.
There are multiple types of scheduling software available. Scheduling software greatly improves workplace efficiency. With scheduling software, you can create and manage multiple schedules, which you can share with your employees. You can also automate schedule creation, freeing up time to focus on other areas. Schedule software updates in real-time, alerting users of critical schedule changes. This also makes it easier to schedule future tasks, since you know when employees are available.
Important Features of Scheduling Software
There are many different types of scheduling software to choose from. Some are meant for specific businesses, while others are all-purpose. When looking for the right scheduling software for your business, there are several important features to consider.
The first is the user interface (UI). Common mistake business managers make is selecting a program with a complex UI. In most cases, the more features included in a program, the more complex the UI becomes. Scheduling software only works if everyone is able to access the key features and make updates to the schedule. If you are a smaller business, prioritize simple, clean UIs. If you need a more advanced program, consider not only your UI needs but the needs of all users. Prioritize software that includes training programs or allows users to customize and simplify the UI.
Another consideration is integration. Managers commonly use multiple programs throughout the day. Many business programs are built with integration in mind. For example, your financing software may connect with your scheduling software, allowing you to automatically generate customer invoices or update payments for your employees. In addition to compatibility, consider what platforms the software is available on. Many new programs include Apple and Android compatibility, allowing you to access schedules from your phone while you are outside the office.
There are additional features to look for with employee scheduling software. Some employee software allows you to not only create automated schedules but also lets users mark when they are available for additional shifts. This allows users to swap schedule without having to contact you. It can also be helpful when employees call in sick or take time off. With hourly employees, you can also consult the schedule to total up all the hours your employees worked.
Buddy Punch started as a time tracking app, allowing employees to digitally create time cards. Since then, it has grown to include messaging and scheduling features. The program is compatible with phones, computers, and tablets. It is a great program if your employees are normally working outside of the office, allowing all your employees to stay in touch and receive new schedule updates without having to constantly travel back to the office. Buddy Punch is also compatible with many other programs, including QuickBooks, ADP, PayPlus, and Workday.
Another reason it is popular is the easy-to-use interface. Buddy Punch does not have as many advanced features as other programs, but it allows managers to create automated shifts and track work hours. As of writing, a basic account costs $25.99 a month. You can request a 14-day free trial before committing to a paid plan.
Acuity is one of the oldest scheduling programs on the market, originally designed in 2006. While it is an older program, Acuity is frequently updated and features the same perks of modern programs, including Android and Apple compatibility. In addition to organizing a schedule, you can also create custom profiles for your employees and clients. This allows you to set up automated messages, reminding clients about upcoming appointments. Acuity is also compatible with PayPal, letting you bill clients after an appointment. This makes it an excellent program for subscription-based services.
Pricing varies based on the number of users. A basic account starts at $15 a month, but only allows for a single user. For $25 a month, you can add five additional users. For $50 a month, you get a total of 36 users. The company offers a 10 percent discount if you pay annually instead of monthly.
Zoho is one of the most customizable scheduling programs available. It is a cloud-based program, which can be accessed from either a mobile app or computer. Each user can create a custom dashboard through the simple UI, which is largely drag and drop based. The program allows you to create employee timesheets without having to integrate with other software. You can also set up automated mail alerts so you know whenever there is a schedule change. Zoho is compatible with several popular programs, including QuickBooks, Zapier, and AdobeSign.
Zoho comes with a 30-day free trial. After the trial, it costs $1.25 a month per member, making it one of the most affordable scheduling programs for small businesses.
10to8 is a robust scheduling program, compatible with over 500 business programs. It features a simple UI, with the ability to sync calendars and leave messages for other employees. You can integrate online payment options like Stripe and PayPal into your schedules. 10to8 also allows you to create questionnaires, which is an excellent way to receive feedback from your clients. Instead of charging per user, 10to8 charges based on the number of appointments each month. With a free plan, you can schedule 100 appointments. For additional plans, you must purchase a monthly subscription, which starts at $9.60 per month.
Square is better known for its website building programs, but they also offer scheduling software. If you already use other Square software, you can easily integrate Square Appointments into your system. Square has a number of automated features, including inventory and sales tracking. You can register one account for free. It costs $50 a month for five users or $90 for 10 users. Anything bigger requires getting a quote from Square directly.