Vladimir Sidorenko

How to Develop a Web-Based Employee Scheduling Software?

, , scheduling , analytics

What types of schedules are out there?

Different types of scheduling suit different businesses, therefore there are various kinds of scheduling software on the market.

  1. Scheduling of meetings or calls. The main task here is to find free slots in the employees' calendars and make them come together for a meeting. For that purpose, companies can use special software such as Calendy, Boomerang Calendar or just a usual Google calendar which is quite good for some types of scheduling tasks.
  2. Scheduling of project plans, which requires timelines, prioritization, collaboration options, and other features to make the work of the project teams easier and more productive. Here are a few types of such solutions:
  • Task management software like Jira, Asana, and TimeCamp;
  • Agile methodology tools like Agilean, Trello, as well as Wrike;
  • Gantt chart software such as Work Zone, Easy Projects, and Team Gantt.

Now, let’s elaborate on another type.

3. Employee scheduling software, which is more complicated and solid. Such software is required to help administer the company's hourly workers, track employees’ schedules and work shifts, and provide HR, payroll, and other features.

Employee work scheduling

A task to build an employee scheduling system is relevant for organizations with more complex requirements and work shifts, such as restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, construction companies, or any others which have employees with hourly rates or different working schedules.

Such software offers all kinds of useful features:

  • Schedule overview for daily, weekly, biweekly and other variations of shifts with an access to filters.
  • Work management to schedule meetings, track projects, control budgeting, and employee workloads.
  • Communication in real-time to be able to contact coworkers via messages, emails, and calls.
  • Automotive shift assignment to make the process of matching shifts and employees a lot easier and faster.
  • Shift swapping enables employees to swap shifts, choose most comfortable available work time while preventing double-booking.
  • Schedule template serves as a template that can be saved and used for the new schedules.
  • Worker profile is a place where all employee data is stored for a manager to access their expertise, experience, and contact details.
  • Resource forecasting helps companies plan and project on what types and how many employees and resources will most likely be needed in the future.
  • Reports and analytics provide HR and financial reports, enables you to compare data and export it in a comfortable format.
  • Integrations let companies merge data from additional HR, payroll and other services for a more comfortable use.

An employee scheduling software should also be able to handle big amounts of data and take into account different types of restrictions:

  1. Business and management restrictions:
  • For example, in a restaurant, two waiters, one cook, and one chef should work during the day shift.
  • Sometimes managers have to make similar rules for every day of the week: divide days into shifts and specify which roles should be present at each shift.
  • In case of a hospital, it can be necessary, that among the two nurses on duty at least one should be a male under the age of 40, as it may be needed to transport the patient.

2. Employees restrictions:

When recruiting, candidates sign contracts with a description of the working conditions, which have nothing to do with the business requirements. For example:

  • Every fourth-day rotation schedule;
  • No night shifts;
  • Vacation every six months.

3. Legal restrictions imposed by the Labour Code:

  • No more than seven consecutive workdays;
  • No more than three consecutive night shifts.

Up to a certain limit, the schedules can be created manually, but the complexity of this task is rapidly increasing with the number of people and business rules. That’s when automation comes to the rescue.

Options for automation

There are a number of tools for scheduling, both paid and open source, which offer employee scheduling automation.

Here are some examples of scheduling tools with automation options popular worldwide.

Name Main features
Veribook - Highly customizable scheduling
- Display of a business’ real-time availability
- Ability to accept and manage appointments and recurring appointments
- No-show tracking
TrackTime24 - Absence management, vacation/leave tracking
- Employee time clock, overtime, and hourly tracking
- Benefits, compensation, and payroll
- Contractor management
MySchedule.com - An option to swap shifts
- Clock-in and clock-out
- Vacation or leave tracking
Ubeya - An outline of employees, events, timing, payroll, and analytics
- Synchronization with the calendar
- GPS clock-in and clock-out
Agendrix - Remote access
- Changing shifts between employees
- Clock-in and clock-out
- Vacation, absence and leave tracking

However, all of these tools may have some significant drawbacks:

  1. Most tools solve generic problems not related to your particular business and offer the types of scheduling and editing tools that anyway make you manually create schedules. There's quite a big chance that your scheduling requirements will be different from the offered ones.
  2. Every schedule heavily depends on the company restrictions. The chosen tool may not be able to serve all your needs. And again, you will need to adjust it manually or in some other way adopt it to the features of the software you have. Sometimes, it may be not really effective.

Considering how many different parameters and factors should be taken into account, many big companies with a large number of employees decide to create a staff scheduling app on their own with the help of a web development agency. Therefore, all company requirements, needs, and business goals would be kept in mind and fulfilled.

How much it costs to develop an online employee scheduling software?

The cost of an employee scheduling software depends on the business requirements, the complexity of the project and the experience of the developers. On average, it might be up from $10,000 to $25,000.

There’s definitely a temptation to find developers who have a cheaper hourly rate. However, high quality isn’t guaranteed. Inexperienced developers may make a lot of critical mistakes and would probably need more time than the higher qualified experts. As a result, the overall price might be even higher.

Anyway, it's better to choose the team experienced in the projects similar to yours. It would guarantee a better quality achieved in shorter development terms.

How to create a staff scheduling app?

For the professionals interested in a particular algorithm, we’ll elaborate on the process of how to develop an employee scheduling software.

An interesting point in scheduling is that there is no "right" schedule: there are only options that fit better or worse. Sometimes, it's possible to satisfy all the requirements, but more often it's not. So, you begin with sorting out all the possible options for scheduling, evaluate them and choose the ones which respond to the most valuable needs of the company.

This problem is very similar to the knapsack problem which illustrates different approaches to finding the perfect solution. We need to choose an algorithm that optimizes the order in which we will sort out the options and the criteria by which we will be able to stop in time. Genetic algorithms fit the description.

Genetic algorithms

In a nutshell, the genetic algorithm is as follows:

  1. We create N random schedules.
  2. If at least one of them suits us, we take it and the algorithm stops.
  3. We assess the schedule and choose the best M options.
  4. We copy the best M options, applying the random changes (mutations) to them as long as the amount does not reach N options.
  5. We go to step 2.

Defining the appropriate schedule during the options comparison

Let’s assume that the "appropriate schedule" is any schedule that is not cut off by the requirements, which are specified for the calendar. After finding it, we will stop the search.

To create the next generation, we need to compare the options and define the best one.

The easiest way is to evaluate each option using numbers. To do this, you can take a list of criteria and define a function that will be able to evaluate how the schedule option meets the criteria (between 0 and 1). Evaluation of options will help to assess the schedule for all the criteria and get the average rating. If the criteria are not equal, you can take a weighted average.

When do we stop?

We stop if one of the following is true:

  • We found a suitable schedule.
  • New generations don’t increase the average level of compliance.
  • After a certain number of generations.

Please note, the schedule which meets all the criteria may not exist. These situations need to be processed depending on the business requirements to build an employee scheduling software. For example, you can exclude some criteria.

Remember about the exceptions

The main problem of all plans, including schedules, is that people have to follow them, but people can be unreliable. Remember to provide an ability to make exceptions: change people, cancel the shifts due to employee's illness, add overtime shifts and so on.

In addition, an employee can ask to be assigned to a certain time in advance. The algorithm has to handle this condition as another criterion.

Availability and mobile devices

If the schedule exists but is forgotten, it’s no use for anyone. Therefore, it’s important when you develop an employee scheduling software to make sure that the schedule is available to all employees. A custom online employee scheduling software with a mobile interface is the most suitable solution. Manager interface, of course, can be left only for the desktop, but the mobile access (read-only) for the employees is out of the question.

If you’ve made your mind up and decided to introduce an employee scheduling software to your business, we are always here for you. Our web development team can boast high-level experts and successful cases.

Contact us right now, and we’ll answer all your questions and consult you on building an employee scheduling software which will put your business to a whole another level.

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