Using Excel is not Cheaper than a Rota Software. Here are 9 Reasons.

Excel rota templates are a lot cheaper than software. If this is what you believe, we'd like to raise awareness on how excel adds to the complexity. Read on
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: December 8, 2022
  • 5 Minutes
excel rota is not cheaper than Papershift rota software

Excel rota templates are a lot cheaper than rota software. If this is what you believe, we’d like to raise awareness on how excel adds to complexity, increases confusion and inefficiency, and thereby makes it more expensive for your business. Read on to know 9 reasons why.

Scheduling software is a great tool to help businesses run perfectly. When you have the right system in place, you’ll be able to tackle any timetabling task with ease.

Rota software comes in many shapes and sizes. From free apps you use on a smartphone to spreadsheets that automate many of the scheduling tasks, the choice is huge.

But with so many types of rota software available, the biggest problem is finding one that is right for you.

In this article, we are going to look at two of the more popular scheduling options available – rota software and Excel rota spreadsheets. In particular, we are going to compare the features of both and justify our recommendation that dedicated rota software is a better option. Let’s begin.

What is rota software?

Rota software applications are a type of software that allow you to set up and manage schedules. They automate many of the tasks of scheduling and allow for the easy amending of timetables.

Setting up rota software is as simple as inputting a task, a specific day or date, and the person responsible for it. These details are held in the app and can be amended or moved with ease.

There are free and paid rota software applications available. Many free ones have limitations in scope, and the paid ones can incur a monthly or annual fee.

What is an Excel Rota?

Excel is a spreadsheet application available on PCs, tablets, and even smartphones. It is the most popular spreadsheet solution on the market and has been for many years.

Spreadsheets offer many of the tools for creating rotas because of their inherent tabular nature. With rows and columns representing days/dates and times, you can input tasks, print the results, or send them electronically to others.

How can Excel be used as a scheduling tool?

Excel’s tabular format makes it well suited to creating schedules. But the real benefits Excel offers as a rota software comes in the many templates it provides. Whenever you create a new document, Excel gives you the option to use a template. Some templates give specific scheduling options out of the gate, making them ideal for timetable or rota purposes.

What are the advantages of dedicated rota software compared to Excel?

Excel is a great tool, but it wasn’t created with scheduling in mind. And while the use of templates and a little experimentation can yield results, dedicated rota software is often a better option. Here’s are a few reasons why:

1. You Get an Instant Overview of Hours Worked Per Employee Per Time Period

One of the best features of modern rota software is that it gives you a lot of metrics. This allows you to analyse staff data with ease. One of the most useful pieces of information it provides is the number of hours worked over a period. This can help with things like planning and payroll. Excel can also do this too but requires far more work and expert knowledge of the software.

2. Allows You to See How Many Staff Are Working in Each Area and Time-slot

Most rota software solutions will allow you to filter search results. This allows you to see how many people are working in each time-slot or area at any point in time. This can help with planning and ensure that business coverage is good. Again, Excel can do this, but to do so needs extra work and a fair knowledge of Excel’s formula.

3. Manage Employee Absences

Most rota software will help perform at least some HR tasks. Absences can be recorded, and sickness policies monitored. On top of this, many rota software solutions allow employees to request an agreed absence, like a holiday or shift swap. Excel provides no way for employees to apply for leave.

4. Employees Can Easily See Shift Changes anywhere anytime on rota apps

A good rota software solution will allow employees to access their shift schedule either at work or on the move. With updates transmitted to all users instantaneously, employees receive immediate notifications of any changes. This reduces the need to send a new plan out every time you amend a schedule, as you would do with Excel.

5. Employees Can Apply for Shifts

If you offer floating shifts or regular overtime, schedule management software can handle this for you. If an employee wants to complete a shift, all they have to do is apply for it in the software. You can then confirm it manually or have the software do it automatically. Excel offers no such convenience.

6. No Need to Understand Complicated Excel Formulas

Excel is a powerful tool, and with a little knowledge can complete many scheduling tasks. But to do so often requires a mathematics degree and a specialist knowledge of Excel formulas. This is ok in offices where there is an ‘Excel expert’. But what happens if you don’t have one? Or if your expert goes on holiday? Rota software forgoes formulas altogether and does all the hard work behind the scenes so you don’t have to.

7. Different Users Can Be Given Different Rights. Data Security.

With Excel, all users have the same access to data. This can cause a problem if you don’t want them to see everything or want to limit their usage. Rota software allows you to set individual rights for each user. This can help limit access to data.

8. Ease of Use: Anyone can use Rota Software without being an Expert.

With large numbers of employees, Excel spreadsheets become unwieldy and difficult to change. The vast amounts of data held in a table can also cause performance issues. With rota software, everything is at your fingertips, but you only see what you want, when you want it. This gives you the flexibility to choose what you view. If you want to see next week’s rota, then it’s one click away. If you want to pull up an absence report, then a few clicks and you’re there.

9. Automated Scheduling and Pay

Another major advantage of rota software is that it will automate many of the tasks of scheduling. Rota software can automatically add breaks to employees’ shifts and can calculate the amount of pay they earn with little input.


In conclusion

Excel is a great tool and has many applications. But compared to dedicated rota software, it is lacking in scheduling features and becomes too unwieldy when data sets are large. Our advice is to look at a dedicated rota software solution for your scheduling needs.

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Illustration by Maria Shukshina from Ouch!

Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)