VCS Blog

12 March 2015

Scheduling System Costs and Why They Vary

Posted by Diane DiMemmo
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The 5 REAL Questions to Ask Scheduling Software Vendors

Everyone knows to practice due diligence when purchasing a new product, system or service. Evaluation of key features and benefits is the only way to truly know what the best fit will be for your organization. The scheduling systems on the market today demonstrate significant variances in pricing, and since cost is a big factor in making a purchase decision … it’s important to be educated on this topic.


There’s a reason this saying has been around for so long, and it’s because it is absolutely true! There is a DIRECT CORRELATION between the pricing of a system and the number of benefits it provides. If a product has only basic features and limited support, then its price will be low. A more robust scheduling system may be priced higher, but the increased benefits of powerful reporting, time & attendance tracking from “hire to retire,” and the monetization of all staff management decisions make it a worthy investment, guaranteed to provide a healthy ROI.

In order to separate and distinguish between the different scheduling systems, ask the five (5) questions below during software demonstrations. The vendors’ answers will help you to understand why the products are priced differently and will show you the true capabilities of the systems. Ultimately, you will need to decide if you want comprehensive scheduling automation with drill-down analysis of data or just simple computer/mobile calendaring with basic features.

1. How are business, union, payroll, and leave requirements incorporated into the scheduling system? A system that provides drag-and-drop capabilities is nice, but what’s imperative is how those schedules are synced with the way you do business. Is there staffing validation? What fees will be incurred by awarding a shift to an employee who has already had overtime as opposed to awarding it to another employee at regular pay? Does the selected employee have the correct certifications? Which employee should be selected so that distribution of work is fair and equitable? Will the schedule violate any union rules? Were pay steps, shift differentials, leave, lunch times, overtime, special assignments, and training calculated accurately in the payroll export?

2. What kind of reporting features are available? The effectiveness of your software investment will reveal itself in the reporting capabilities. How powerful is the organization of data if it cannot give you the intel you need to make better business and staffing decisions? Make sure the vendors clarify if additional fees will apply when you need a report customized to your agency. If there is a fee for report customization, ask if the system has a report-writing feature that will give you the ability to design any report yourself.

3. Upon which technology platform is your system built? Just because the system has an attractive calendar does not mean that the software engine is technologically advanced. True cutting-edge technologies exist within the system code, not the GUI. Similar to having a building inspector assess the soundness of a home prior to buying it, you should ask about the framework upon which the scheduling system is built to better understand its value.

4. What security features are built into the system? All agencies – large and small – have different kinds of users who will be accessing the system. The permissions for administrators will be different than those of supervisors; and end-users will have very limited rights. Will the scheduling system have a security design feature that will allow you to customize a hierarchy of security levels exactly the way you want?

5. To what extent will the system track employees’ work histories throughout the lifetime of their employment? An enterprise-level system should be able to track every situation that ever occurred during an employee’s tenure with your agency or business (from “hire to retire”). Pre-employment test results, training, certifications, promotions, raises, pay steps, applicable union rules, grievances, auditing, work trends, equipment allocations, assignment tracking, and all of the corresponding reports should be included in a scheduling automation system.

Once you see how much the systems’ abilities vary, you will then be in a position to choose the product that is the best fit for your organization based upon functionality, not just cost.

Our checklist highlights important features to consider when purchasing a scheduling solution.