Rota scheduling tool helps rota planners schedule shifts for their employees and teams. Setting up a rota that works for both your business, your customers, and your staff is not easy. Making sure that staff cover is good and you have the right skills at the right time is a juggling act many circus performers would be proud of.

But there are applications out there that can help. Many of these come in the form of rota scheduling tools.

What is rota scheduling tool?

A rota scheduling tool is a piece of software aimed at making rota creation easy. Sometimes referred to as a rota management tool, they provide templates and other functions for creating an effective work schedule.

Good rota software will allow you to plan and populate your rota with the staff available to you. It will also be able to consider the skills of your employees and any staffing requirements you have.

Most rota software will contain templates that define the requirements for a shift. It will also contain information about your staff. Input the type of skills or other requirements for each available time slot and the software will populate the rota automatically.

The main benefit of rota scheduling software is that it helps you to manage your rotas. This can save time and reduce errors in creating work schedules for both employees and customers.

For businesses, well-managed staff cover ensures customer service levels remain high while reducing costs associated with replacing absent workers or having extra bodies on the rota that are not required. For employees, a good work schedule is one they will appreciate and be able to manage their time around.

A secondary benefit of software for creating rotas is the enhanced training potential it provides. The ability to access your rotas from anywhere at any time means you can review them with staff wherever they may be. Additionally, rota software can be linked to other tools such as time and attendance systems.

What do you need?

Most rota scheduling apps will require some sort of data entry from the user. Here are a few possible uses:

Inputting staff availability using calendars – this may include stating any days off or holiday requests they have made. You may also need to input personal information such as medical conditions or other requirements.

Inputting skills sets – you can specify the type of skill an employee has, for example in a call center environment employees would have customer service skills and in retail they would have sales person skills. Skills can be set by specific time periods or permanently assigned to your employees.

Inputting staff or customer requirements – you may have specific days of the week when certain customers visit your business and if so, these need to be taken into account in planning rotas. You can also set time periods where only a single employee is required for cover purposes.

What other software tools should I consider?

Using scheduling software for creating rotas is a good start, but for the best results you may need to use other tools in conjunction with this. For example:

Time and attendance systems – these will allow you to record staff hours worked so that the software knows who is available when. You can also specify any breaks or lunch times taken by your employees which again has to be taken into account.

Staffing requirements – you may have staff on your rota who are required to take breaks at specific times or in some cases cannot work past a certain time (for example in healthcare). Staffing requirements help ensure that these restrictions and other factors such as leave requests do not impact the rest of your rota.

What are the benefits of rota scheduling software for rota planners and shift workers?

There are many benefits to using a rota scheduling tool, including:

  • Reduces the time to create a staff rota. A good rota software can reduce the time to produce a rota by several hours each month. This can free up time for your HR team to use on more important tasks.
  • No more rota clashes. Manually producing rotas can lead to error. Things like scheduling an employee for more shifts than they can work are common. A rota scheduling tool prevents this by checking for time clashes or other errors.
  • Don’t fall foul of the law. In the EU there are several laws relating to how many hours staff can work. If you get your rota wrong, you may ask the staff to break the law. A good rota software will prevent this from happening.
  • Better time management. A good rota management software will ensure you have exactly the right staffing levels. No more being under or over-staffed. No more missing key skills at key times.
  • Can reduce paper consumption and printing costs. No more printing rotas on paper to display on notice boards. Networked rota software will allow users to see shift patterns right from their PC.

How is a rota scheduling tool better compared to excel sheets for rota planning?

While it might be tempting to use free software like Excel for your rota management, don’t. Excel, while a great spreadsheet tool, offers little of the functionality of rota software. Excel won’t populate rotas automatically. It won’t consider the needs of your staff. And it won’t understand the skills of your employees.

Using Excel requires a fair amount of input and editing, which is fine if your rota is static. If you need to be more dynamic with staffing, rota software will give you far more flexibility.

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 🙂