Are you a business owner or manager struggling to keep your team and business schedules organized? Are scheduling conflicts, missed appointments, and task allocation causing headaches?
Inefficient scheduling can eat into your precious time and impact your bottom line.
But what if we told you there’s an excellent solution — one that can change how you make and run schedules?
Well, there is. And it comes in the form of smart scheduling software.
In this article, we’ll review what you need to know about scheduling tools, their benefits, and things to look for. We’ll also guide you through the best tools in the market.
What is scheduling software?
Scheduling software is a digital tool that can help you tame the chaos of your daily schedule. It can help you move, plan, and rearrange your to-do list or project tasks in an efficient, easy-to-manage way.
Let’s say you have a busy week ahead, with many meetings, upcoming appointments, and deadlines. With scheduling software, you can input all of these activities into one interface (usually in an online calendar) so they’re neatly organized and easy to manage.
This type of software often has an intuitive interface that allows you to easily adjust your tasks or add new ones to your schedule.
A helpful feature most scheduling tools offer is automatic notifications about upcoming items in your schedule or delays. Some tools even sync effortlessly with your email account.
Here are a few practical uses of scheduling software:
- Small business owners can lock in employee work schedules, customer appointments, and daily operations.
- Entrepreneurs can schedule daily work, such as meetings or scouting new customers.
- Students can track all their academic commitments.
- Event planners can schedule events.
- Service businesses, like construction companies, can use it to plan both long- and short-term projects.
- Or you can simply use it for personal commitments like family get-togethers, dream vacations, or exercise routines.
Types of scheduling software
Online scheduling tools have been around since the dawn of the modern digital age. The first tools were (painfully) simple calendars businesses used to track their tasks.
Luckily, these tools have come a long way and evolved into the various scheduling tools we have now, from simple (like Google Calendar) to bespoke appointment scheduling apps.
If you run a busy salon, doctor’s office, or fitness center, then you probably need an appointment scheduling app.
(Image source: Motion)
Appointment scheduling apps enable your clients to easily book appointments online. This reduces the number of back-and-forth emails and phone calls you must handle.
As a business owner or manager, you also get a well-organized schedule.
Plus, many of these tools will send automatic reminders to both you and your clients.
Employee scheduling software
If you run a restaurant, a retail business, or any other company that uses shift-based work, then employee scheduling software is for you. This tool simplifies the creation of work schedules while balancing capacities and priorities.
With scheduling software, you simply input your employees’ availability, and the tool generates optimized schedules.
Project scheduling software
Creating project schedules — and sticking to them — is hard. Change requests, new projects or team members, or delays can throw a theoretical wrench into your often perfect schedule.
To make it worse, more than 25% of project managers report that they build project schedules using Excel, Word, or PowerPoint. This is inefficient and can be prone to human error.
With project scheduling software (or project management software), you can more easily create error-free project schedules. And when those tricky changes do occur, you can easily reschedule what you need to.
With a tool like Motion, you can track tasks, deadlines, and resource allocation. You can also assign responsibilities, set milestones, and see the big picture of even complex projects at a glance.
Project management tools also typically feature visual tools, like Gantt charts and project timelines, which project managers use to build accurate project schedules.
Even better, project teams can use the collaboration features that often come with project management software to help them collaborate (and get their work done).
Production scheduling software
Production scheduling software is perfect for manufacturing (or businesses that produce many products).
Production schedules need to be tight and error-free to avoid costly delays. Production scheduling software does just that.
Personal scheduling apps
Entrepreneurs, students, and pro athletes alike use personal scheduling apps. They use these tools to plan and schedule meetings, tasks, family events, training programs, and self-care.
Some apps can balance your work and personal life, as well as track your habits so they can give you smart recommendations.
Benefits of scheduling software
Using scheduling software has many benefits. Let’s dig deeper into a few of these.
Improved bottom line
Most managers and business owners understand the seemingly endless hours it takes to craft employee schedules — not to mention when changes happen and they have to redo and adjust the schedules as a result.
Employee scheduling software and various project management tools can automate the entire scheduling process. With them, you can offload some of your administrative work.
Less time spent on admin work means you can focus more on satisfying your customers, and happier customers lead to a better bottom line.
Better resource utilization
Businesses rely on various resources, including equipment, vehicles, and staff, and using these incorrectly can also be costly.
For example, if you run a delivery company and one of your drivers is sick, that might mean your customers receive their products late. With a scheduling tool, you can optimize the rest of your drivers’ schedules and get the products out on time. You can also cut out the time your resources are spent idle with optimized schedules.
One big problem many companies have is double bookings and scheduling conflicts. These issues aren’t just frustrating — they’re costly. Let’s say one of the drivers has a double booking which causes them both to show up at a client’s house. This would cause them to waste time and it could hurt the company’s reputation.
Scheduling conflicts also impact your employees’ productivity. What if you quickly rearrange a driver’s schedule for the double booking we just went over? Your employees will then have to work double hard to meet all the orders, and the quality of the service might suffer.
Scheduling software can do more than just save you time organizing your day, week, or month. It can also help you maximize your time by optimizing your schedule — even removing unimportant tasks from your to-do list.
Better time management can lead to better productivity, as your employees aren’t overworked or rushed. They can also use methods like the Pomodoro technique to make the most of your time.
Many scheduling software solutions offer analytics and reporting as advanced features. Managers and business owners often use these features to help them make decisions regarding resource usage and operational improvements.
For example, let’s say the manager of the delivery company uses the tool to see which drivers are taking too long on their deliveries. The tool gives them the report in an instant, and they can then immediately see who’s working too slowly and decide what to do from there.
What sets smart scheduling software apart from traditional scheduling software?
87% of businesses worldwide believe that artificial intelligence and automation hold the key to gaining a competitive edge in their industry.
AI scheduling software has many key features that can help you gain that competitive edge. Let’s see what this would look like for a delivery company that just started using smart scheduling software.
It all starts with data.
The AI system gathers real-time info about the activities the delivery teams complete. This data is typically housed in a central database, which the AI system can effortlessly analyze. It’ll look at things like the number of deliveries done each day, delivery goals, overall capacity, and more. This means you’ll always have the most accurate data on hand and you won’t have to rely on old data-capturing methods.
Next, the AI will then use its large language models (and combine them with machine learning) to instantly process large amounts of data to look for patterns. After the software has gone over all the data it notices that the delivery company is two times more busy during the holiday season. This is something that the manager might have missed because they are also super busy during that time. With this accurate analysis in hand, the company can then plan to hire more drivers for the busy seasons.
The software also anticipates peak delivery times and low delivery times. And because it’s always working in the background, you can have confidence in your data. This leads us to the next point.
Since smart schedulers already have the most accurate data on things like individual schedules and incoming orders, they can take over scheduling decisions. With the help of the AI, the app can continuously build the delivery team schedules for each day while factoring in all the data from before.
The smart scheduler then plans the team’s schedules so that they can make the most out of them during peak and low times.
The AI system can send out real-time updates to the managers, customers, and team members of the delivery company.
AI software is highly adaptable. If a driver calls in sick, the software can automatically find a replacement and adjust everyone’s schedules accordingly. If an order is canceled, the AI scheduler can quickly replan any deliveries that it might affect, “all without breaking a byte”.
Automated scheduling is by far the best feature that AI schedulers have to offer. With it, the delivery team can deliver more products on time and save money on idle resources.
What to look for in the best (smart) scheduling software
There are a few important things to keep in mind before you just jump into an AI-powered scheduler. Look for the following key elements before you commit and possibly waste your time and money:
No one wants to spend hours calibrating and setting up software or tools to get it to work. In the Apple ecosystem, if you can buy a pair of earbuds, you can use it right out of the box.
Look for a scheduling tool that’s easy to use right out of the box, with an intuitive, user-friendly interface. It should be as easy to use as dragging and dropping employee names onto a digital scheduler or using a premade template.
Let’s say your business already uses tools like CRM systems, calendars, or accounting software. You don’t want your new scheduling software to operate in isolation.
(Image source: Motion)
Look for smart scheduling software that can play nicely with your existing tools. You’ll want them to work with tools like Google Drive, Google Meet, Google Analytics, or other tools that business owners and employees use.
What if you’re getting clients, hiring employees, and booking appointments faster than you expected? Your system should be able to handle higher workloads and grow effortlessly like Google’s server space does.
You don’t want your scheduling software to hit a limit and say, “Sorry, I can’t handle this anymore.” Instead, look for tools that can handle large numbers of users and clients, as well as unlimited appointments.