Free Scheduling Tools Won’t Help You Scale

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

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.

Here are the facts.

Employee Satisfaction Depends on Effective Scheduling

New research by the MIT Sloan School of Management found that market leaders like Trader Joe’s and Costco are winning not by offering low prices, but by prioritizing employee satisfaction and assigning employees schedules well in advance. Inadequate scheduling can lead to lower morale, absenteeism, employee turnover, operational issues and customer service problems – all of which negatively impact the bottom line.

Along the same lines, a study by Harvard Business Review found that the most cost-effective scheduling software balances the value created for management with the value created for workers. It saves money for the company while boosting worker engagement. When workers are motivated to do a better job for the customer, this results in a better customer experience.

Leading businesses approach employee scheduling not as a necessary cost center, but as a critical component to a winning business strategy. Read on to learn more about the costs and challenges of free scheduling tools.

The Full Cost of Inefficient Scheduling Tools

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 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 come to the office or call in to see/make changes/have a meltdown about their schedules.

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

‘Frankenstein’ Scheduling Systems Hold Back Your Business

After companies realize that ancient methods aren’t really free, they usually try to cobble together a “Frankenstein” scheduling process made up of free online solutions. Spreadsheets like Excel are free once you buy the software, and Google Sheets for Personal use is free to use 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 restrain the effectiveness of each system and human error comes into play in each data transfer. “Frankenstein” comes apart at the bolts as you try to scale up the business.

There’s No Such Thing as a “Free” Scheduling App

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 into the free app—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. By 2020, 72.3% of workers will be mobile and will use dynamic tools that keep them connected to the home office. They need a way to communicate with the 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 already are 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 SalesforceServiceNow 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. That’s the best kind of free.