The right people in the right place at the right time?
September 24, 2019 7:22 AM   Subscribe

In the very near future, I'm opening up a facility with 30+ new staff divided evenly between 3 separate roles - I need to create work schedules for them. We have minimal funds to pay for software but I can't pull this off using the Excel spreadsheet I've been using for our existing tiny team (and it's already hurting my brain to consider this). Help!

The facility will be open 7 days per week, 13 hours per day, including holidays. Each shift is 5 hours long. I need to ensure appropriate staff coverage between the 3 roles (e.g., 1 from each role must be present) for each shift - but, in general, none of the staff are permitted to work more than 20 hours per week.

My dream:

As automated as possible.

The software would allow people to login and independently submit their availability online. Prior to the start of a new month, I can then see who's available for certain shifts and can select the staff that I'd like to work the upcoming shifts. It would then generate a calendar that could be viewed by staff (online) and printed.

If I can 'group' people by role, that would be great, so I can easily see that I've filled each shift appropriately.

I'd like to be able to edit the schedule on the fly to add/remove people directly (when someone is sick, quits, is hired, etc.)

Some staff will work fixed schedules (e.g., every Monday from 8:30-noon) and I'd love to be able to plunk that in and not need them to submit it every month - but if that's not an option, I'm okay with doing it manually.

Some staff do not have internet access reliably, so I will need to input their details myself.

Bonus points if, while I'm generating the calendar, it can also keep me within the 20 hours per week requirement automatically (i.e., telling me that Jane Doe has been allocated for 20 hours already, before I add another shift) with an option to override that on occasion.

I'd appreciate if it can generate a report of hours worked in a month that I can use to give to payroll. This isn't required.

I would love this to be web-based for the sake of everyone involved. We have our own website but the person who is responsible for it is a volunteer - I'm iffy on his reliability, so would prefer not to do that.

We're a registered charitable org in Canada, if you're aware of a discounted software option for charities.

In a few months, the facility will expand further (double in size, likely) so the ability to scale up is important.

(I will accept ANY advice or thoughts on how to handle this. I can barely handle coordinating my own schedule without anxiety, so this is seriously giving me the flim-flams.)
posted by VioletU to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Use Sling. It's absolutely brilliant and does everything you need it to do.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:56 AM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

You should check with your payroll person/group and find out what (if any) software they use.

Many of the features you are asking about (fixed and hourly schedules, shifts, personnel changes, reporting, capping hours, online interface, etc) can be handled through an HR/payroll/workforce management system, although the ease and cost will vary a LOT depending on the software and your organization's setup. (When I dealt with this sort of thing at my last non-profit job, we opted out of the scheduling features because they were designed for complicated retail/manufacturing facilities and priced accordingly.)

It's worth asking to see there's an easy solution that can just be flipped on though, and something tied to the existing system will be easier to scale as the facility expands.
posted by yeahlikethat at 8:03 AM on September 24, 2019

When To Work works well for us. It's not free, but there is a free trial so you can see if you like it. I believe it has all the features you are looking for and then some.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:32 AM on September 24, 2019

One thing to prioritize is a regular weekly schedule for as many people as possible so you don't have to rework the schedule from scratch every week. Of course you have to have some floaters to cover illness and vacations, and you should allow people to swap shifts, but having an unpredictable schedule each week can make it impossible for people to hold down another part time job.
posted by soelo at 10:39 AM on September 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

We use When I Work. It's free!

(On preview: Not to be confused with When to Work mentioned by Rock Steady above.)
posted by Guess What at 12:39 PM on September 24, 2019

I also came to recommend When To Work. A couple years back, I tried about ten or twelve different systems, and W2W was just awesome. It will accomplish everything on your list, plus some other incredibly helpful things:

- It lets each employee mark their availability with several helpful options (I can work this time, I can't work this time, I prefer not to work this time but I can do it if absolutely necessary).
- It lets employees fill their own shift outages -- so if someone wants to trade shifts or take a vacation, they can post their shifts up on the trade board in advance to find a sub (and you as manager can retain the right to approve the trade before it goes into effect)
- It has a great phone app for employees to use.
- It has a great online help documentation and super-helpful support staff
- It's about half the price of services that offer an inferior feature set

I'll just give you one small warning: it does take a little bit of work to set up. However, as I said, their help documentation is great and so is their support team. A+, would use again.
posted by ourobouros at 12:07 PM on September 25, 2019

A friend (who reads MeFi) recommended Agendrix and that's what I ended up using. It's super easy on my side AND on the staff side, and the timesheets can be exported directly into QuickBooks (something I had not considered until yeahlikethat recommended checking with our accounting person). Thank you for the suggestions - and also thank you for giving me some insight into what features would be helpful, since I had no clue what I'd be getting myself into!
posted by VioletU at 12:43 PM on October 24, 2019

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