We all know that spreadsheets are a valuable business tool for dealing with numbers, whether you’re calculating and processing, storing or archiving business data. In fact, Microsoft Excel is such a useful platform that many managers swear by using spreadsheets for all kinds of project management information. However, there are limitations, and employee scheduling is definitely one of them.

If you still use Excel to schedule your team, or you receive your assigned shifts in Excel format, you probably know how unwieldy a tool it is. Creating staff rotas and shift plans in an Excel spreadsheet is time consuming, laborious and bound to lead to mistakes.

Here are 7 reasons why it’s high time to ditch Excel and look for a better software tool for employee scheduling.

  1. It takes too long

Using a spreadsheet for employee scheduling might be OK if nothing ever changed – but in the ever changing world of work, this is simply not the case. Shifts can change on a daily basis, and editing and resending updated spreadsheets to staff can take an age.

When the whole point of creating work schedules and rotas is to save time and avoid confusion, using a spreadsheet to achieve this can have the exact opposite effect.

  1. It’s not shareable

Excel spreadsheets may be great for the person working on it, but no-one else has access to the working document. In order to let your staff have a copy of the shift spreadsheet, you need to print it off and give it to them, or email them a soft copy. If there are any alterations to be made, you’ll have to do it all over again.

With a dedicated employee scheduling system, a whole new world of connectivity suddenly becomes possible. Accessible online from anywhere and on any device, you can make changes in real time, while your team can log in and see exactly where they are at any point in time.

  1. It cannot be automated

Spreadsheets use formulas that perform calculations automatically, but when you’re shift planning, there are too many variables to calculate. With workforce management software solutions, you can automate pretty much every process.

Use online scheduling systems to set up recurring shift patterns, to generate suggestions for staff to cover open shifts, to automate your timesheets for payroll and a host of other useful functions. And, of course, you can share it all with your staff, so everyone is kept in the loop.

  1. It’s prone to human error

If you manually input your formula and you make a mistake, then your data will be wrong. While we all make mistakes, locating an error in a complicated spreadsheet is the stuff of nightmares and can take forever.

The fact that every shift change will mean creating an updated spreadsheet unfortunately makes it even more likely that an error is bound to happen at some stage.

  1. It’s not mobile friendly

Everyone has a mobile device these days – but have you ever tried looking at a spreadsheet on your phone? It’s nigh on impossible. Wouldn’t it be useful for everyone to have access to their shift plans on their mobile or tablet? And for you to have the flexibility to be able to make changes right there and then, wherever you are?

With online employee scheduling software, instant access is a real bonus. Your employees can request shift swaps or changes directly from their phone while you can respond to last minute changes with the minimum of delay. What’s more, staff now have no excuse for not knowing their shift plans – after all, it’s right there on their phone.

  1. It’s difficult to finetune

Templates are a great idea but Excel lacks the flexibility you so clearly need when scheduling staff. Do you want to spend hours tweaking a spreadsheet template only to see your needs change completely in a week’s time? With online rota planning, the software does all the work for you.

A spreadsheet is static unless you change it manually. If a team member wants to switch shifts, for example, you will need to manually adjust the spreadsheet and send out new copies for everyone. Online shift swaps are quick and easy. With one notification of the update, it’s all done.

  1. It lacks advanced features

Spreadsheets are powerless when it comes to creating timesheets or payroll. Online staff rota software will have a built in time clock, meaning your staff can clock in/out from any device. It’s easy, instantaneous and error free.

When it comes to payroll, automated software will save you many hours of manual inputting including any errors you will invariably make. Once you approve the timesheets, you will receive an automated payroll report, then export the data to your payroll provider. Job done.

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