Free Employee Scheduling Tools Won’t Help You Scale


Many businesses have been able to survive in an atmosphere of rising costs and slimmer margins by getting things for free when possible. While there are many low-cost alternatives and free resources that business owners can access, the marketplace also abounds with supposedly “free” services that only transfer costs somewhere else.

Free scheduling tools can cost your business in terms of time, administrative costs, employee satisfaction, and customer churn. Free isn’t necessarily better.

Here are the facts.

Employee Experience Depends on Effective Scheduling

Inadequate staff scheduling can lead to lower morale, absenteeism, employee turnover, operational issues and customer service problems – all of which negatively impact the bottom line.

Indeed, research supported by the MIT Sloan School of Management found that market leaders like Trader Joe’s and Costco aren’t winning by offering low prices. Instead, they’re leading because they prioritize the employee experience and assign employees schedules well in advance, rather than making last-minute adjustments per customer traffic forecasts. Along the same lines, one recent study of scheduling at Gap stores found a link between the reliability of retail workers’ schedules and sales and productivity. The more stable workers’ schedules were, the more productive they were and the better the store did in sales.  

Clearly, leading businesses approach employee scheduling not as a necessary cost to keep as low as possible, but as a critical component to a winning business strategy. Effective staff scheduling saves money for the company by boosting worker engagement: When workers are motivated to do a better job for the customer, this results in a better customer experience. And though employee experience is one of the major costs of sub-par scheduling, it isn’t the only one. 

Find out why Skedulo is different

The Full Cost of Inefficient Scheduling Tools

There are many costs that stem from inefficient scheduling tools, but those costs vary depending on what types or combinations of tools a business uses. 

Pen-and-paper Scheduling

You can’t beat pen and paper for ease of acquisition. You can get them anywhere and generate schedules for free until you run out of materials. The same is true of erasable markers on whiteboards or sticky notes placed all over the workplace.

The biggest problems with these manual tools include the complexity of making simple changes, the time spent recreating schedules every time, and the trash, mess and confusion about which schedule is the most current. Also, they require mobile workers to come to the office or call in to see or make changes to their schedules.

You will have to move beyond manual scheduling if you want to treat employees professionally and grow the company.

Frankensteined, Hybrid Scheduling Systems 

After companies realize that ancient methods aren’t really free, they usually try to cobble together a Frankensteined scheduling process made up of free online solutions. Spreadsheet tools like Excel are free to use once you buy the software, and Google Sheets for personal use is free as long as you are connected to the internet.

These solve some problems, but they create multiple versions of schedules whenever there are updates. This generates confusion, causing employees to miss appointments, arrive late, or become frustrated when they don’t know which version is the latest. These decentralized systems have the same problems as offline methods in that there’s no way to message employees, so you have to transfer everything to email or text. Employees end up calling in to find out their schedules or make changes, which is where miscommunications start. Schedulers don’t know when there are conflicts in employee calendars, so another free software is brought into the mix.

As you try to operate multiple systems at once, you blunt the effectiveness of each system and human error comes into play in each data transfer. Your Frankensteined system comes apart at the bolts as you try to scale up the business.

Free Scheduling Apps

The next thing companies try after that doesn’t work is a free scheduling app. Again, they see some improvements, despite employee pushback about having to learn another system. The company loads its private data—which is very likely being sold to pay the developers—and then looks for cost savings.

However, what you don’t see right away is that the free app:

  • Doesn’t offer a way to track employees during the day
  • Doesn’t give employees a way to share issues (so the back office doesn’t find out until the mobile employee returns or submits a report)
  • Can’t capture information from the field, such as photos or customer signatures
  • Doesn’t sync with other systems like Salesforce (which forces you to re-enter data over and over)

These drawbacks, plus many other inefficiencies, compound over time. The company still can’t scale up because of administrative roadblocks. 

Free Tools Can’t Keep Up with a Dynamic Workforce

The workforce is changing. Recent forecasts from the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimate that by 2024, nearly 60% of workers will be mobile. And those workers need a way to communicate with the home office, see their schedules, submit changes, adapt their routes as new customer appointments come online and send data back to the office as they collect it.

Market leaders are already using this kind of scheduling and communications software to shorten their billing cycles and schedule more appointments as their competitors struggle with “free” tools.

The True Value of Intelligent Scheduling

In the end, intelligent businesses need intelligent scheduling to better serve their employees—and help employees to better serve customers. Growth can’t happen with a back office system that’s unable to change on the fly.

This leads to confusion over which version of the schedule is up-to-date. Poor communication delivers poor customer experience and loss of mission critical data. Inefficient scheduling processes drain organizations of necessary resources. Even when schedules are managed efficiently, businesses fall behind when they can’t communicate schedule changes broadly without adding the complexity of another service into the mix.

Skedulo simplifies and streamlines the entire chain, putting the right people in the right place every time and opening up lines of communication for maximum flexibility. Our platform was built to help you scale, with automated scheduling that takes employee details into consideration as it assigns tasks, routes, and customer preferences.

Skedulo helps you:

  • Instantly share the latest schedule with mobile employees
  • Integrate with Salesforce, ServiceNow and other existing back office software
  • Move data seamlessly by collecting notes from the field
  • Simplify billing and data sharing by sharing directly with the back office

Skedulo manages the complexity of all these moving parts and frees you up to do what you do best. Learn more about how mobile workforce management software drives ROI by increasing efficiency and predictability in your workforce. 

Schedule smarter today