Is Spreadsheet Scheduling Dead?

Collaboration is the key to not only simplifying scheduling and making it more efficient but to optimizing your business as well. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of using spreadsheet programs for employee scheduling? 

Scheduling your employees efficiently is key to optimizing your business. Having the right employees in the right places at the right times doing the right jobs is fundamental. So the question becomes: How much effort does it take to optimize your employee schedules?

The answer, in too many cases, is: too much.

If your company still does its employee scheduling on spreadsheets, you’re hardly alone – in fact, it’s not uncommon. But depending on the size of your company and the employee information you need to keep track of, you may find yourself wondering if there’s a better option.

But before you start a frantic search, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of spreadsheet scheduling, and explore how to find the right solution for your needs.

Advantages of Spreadsheet Scheduling

Spreadsheet programs such as Excel or Google Sheets offer certain pluses that make them an attractive option – particularly for small businesses with a limited number of employees who do not require complex schedules. These advantages include:

  • Spreadsheet programs are often free or at the very least inexpensive. If your company has purchased Excel or uses Google Sheets or a similar free alternative, you can save the money it would take to buy a software solution—and the upgrades that go with it.
  • Spreadsheet programs allow multiple people to access schedules electronically, making them far easier to update and change than paper schedules. Additionally, a majority of the functions in Excel, such as adding up hours and pay, can be easily automated.
  • Spreadsheet programs don’t take a great deal of technical knowledge to use. Many workers are already familiar with them from work or home so investing time and money into training staff on these programs will be minimal.

Disadvantages of Spreadsheet Scheduling

If your business employs workers by the hundreds or thousands, instead of by the tens, it likely has outgrown what spreadsheet programs are able to handle without a great deal of wasted time and frustration.

First and foremost, spreadsheet schedules allow for zero collaboration – and collaboration is critical to efficient scheduling, which as you recall is a key to optimizing your business.

No matter how you handle scheduling, the one constant is change. All your employees have needs, wants, desires and wildly varying personalities. Swapping shifts and finding substitutions for workers who can’t be there for a myriad of reasons is bound to happen more frequently than not.

So, it’s important to ask yourself – does it make sense to have one person or a small group of people put in long and frustrating hours in a desperate attempt to stay on top of this monster of continuous change? Among the other disadvantages are:

  • For companies with complex scheduling needs and a large number of employees, manual data entry and administration of spreadsheet programs is enormously time-consuming and frustrating. Hand-entering data, editing and constantly updating it also increases the risk of error.
  • If multiple people have access to updating and making changes to the spreadsheet schedule, the risk of mistakes increases greatly. Version control—making sure you’re working on the latest version of the spreadsheet schedule—can be a problem, especially if multiple people are editing at the same time.
  • Often, there is a gatekeeper or group of gatekeepers whose job is to maintain, defend and protect the spreadsheet schedules. As the spreadsheet grows more complex and more updates are necessary, it can become more important to those gatekeepers to keep up with the changes and ensure everything is accurate than it is to stay on top of employees’ work schedules.
  • Sensitive information can be put at risk. If you’re emailing spreadsheets with information such as employee names and contact info, you risk that information being accessed by unauthorized—or even unsavory—people.

Scheduling Software Solutions

If the advantages listed above still outweigh the disadvantages for your business, ScheduleSource has free Excel scheduling spreadsheet templates built by our team of workforce management professionals to save you time and effort every week. No strings attached.

But if you find your current spreadsheet program being stretched beyond breaking by the number of employees and amount of data you need to include in scheduling, there are software solutions that can automate most of the functions that employees are now spending far too much time on.

Automating processes that are now being done manually provide a range of benefits – from greatly reducing or even eliminating payroll errors to automatically alerting you to such issues such as a shift coming open or an update that needs to be made.

You need a collaborative tool that allows 90%of the work that a gatekeeper undertakes in the care and feeding of a spreadsheet to go away. You need to replace a private, closed, isolated, insulated, protected and defended spreadsheet system with a highly collaborative, interactive, open and transparent automated system.

That’s precisely what ScheduleSource’s TeamWork does.

Instead of having one manager or a few employees empowered to update and change schedules, our scheduling software spreads that effort across 10,000 employees (or however many your company has), each dealing with continuous change for one minute a week.

That’s the power of collaboration.

Discover how TeamWork can harness the power of collaboration to simplify scheduling and optimize your business. Schedule a demo today!