Managing Shift Scheduling with Spreadsheets

Here’s why spreadsheets aren’t the best tool to manage your shift work scheduling.

For more than 20 years, Excel has been one of Microsoft’s most powerful tools. We use it all the time for lots of different functions and in so many ways, you just can’t beat it. As a spreadsheet it really has stood the test of time.

But, one area that Excel really doesn’t work well is as a planning tool. For Shift Managers, using Excel as a planning tool leads to all kinds of problems.

How do you manage your team?

Lots of shift managers do use Excel to create shift rosters for their team. But everyone who does, knows its limitations.

1. Sharing the schedule

Excel does not let you share a current schedule with your team of employees. One of the main reasons for absenteeism in Shift Workers is not knowing when they are supposed to be working. This is a particular problem when the schedule changes. Workers sometimes have to come into their place of work on their OFF days, to find out when they are next due to work.

2. Communicate Changes

Excel has no way of notifying your team of any changes. Shift rotas never remain completely the same. Sickness, holiday or other requirements mean that your shift schedule always needs to be flexible to respond to your work situation. If you can communicate changes to a group or part of a group of employees, you have far greater control, and waste less time with the “ring around” as well.

3. Flagging Issues

With a static schedule, it’s difficult to predict or see where there are issues that need to be dealt with quickly. If you have a gap in your schedule, open shifts, holiday requests or sickness cover requirements, you need to know about it as soon as possible. Dynamic scheduling tools allow you to quickly spot issues and find cover quickly.

4. Managing Requests

If you rely completely on Excel, your Employees can’t tell you when they want holiday, or when they are available for shifts. If they are able to request time off or shift swaps quickly, and communicate them to you, you’ll be able to manage them far more effectively, with no loss of cover in your shift schedule.


5. Tracking Data

Excel doesn’t let you keep track in real time. If half your team haven’t been scheduled, it won’t put up a notification of this coming up. Likewise, it won’t automatically record and calculate hours worked, and holiday left for your team.

6. Visibility

Unless you download the excel spreadsheet to your phone, you can’t keep a check on where everyone is, or is supposed to be. And even then, it’s not going to keep you properly up to date with what’s happening. True mobile capability gives you complete visibility of your team and shift schedule. Allowing you to manage issues and respond to requests no matter where you are.

Flexible Tools for Dynamic Shift Scheduling

Despite its strengths as a spreadsheet tool, the simple fact is that Microsoft Excel is not a flexible tool for shift planning. Because the simple fact is that shift planning is a complex process.

Staff shift scheduling and planning is dynamic.  There will always have to be all kinds of changes to any shift plan. And everyday events make changes to the plan a necessity.

Successful Shift Management

Managing a shift team requires access to information quickly. Information such as:-

  • Staff availability
  • Holiday requests
  • Sickness absence
  • Switching services
  • Peak moments

It also requires that you are able to communicate directly to employees.

Purpose Built Shift Planning Tools

All of requirements for shift management are not possible from within an Excel sheet. Real planning requires a tool that is purpose built, by an organisation that understands shift work and the related issues.

It’s for this reason that we built MyShiftTeam – to help shift managers, in the same way that we have helped shift workers for over 6 years. MyShiftTeam brings automation to the processes of your team’s shifts, to managing the day-to-day issues of cover, availability, and dealing with holiday requests. All without compromising your control over the management of your team.

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