1. What is scheduling software?
Scheduling software helps organizations book events, schedule employees, reserve rooms, and other resources. Businesses use a scheduling program to manage both internal and external activity planning through tools including a shared calendar and forecasting, allocation, and resource management features.
2. The benefits of scheduling software
Boost productivity. Online scheduling saves time and lets users focus on important tasks by eliminating the need for phone conversations to schedule stakeholder meetings. With scheduling software, end users can book resources on-the-go through mobile app functionality, and remote workers can manage their schedules without visiting their employer’s office.
Enhance collaboration and reduce conflicts. Scheduling system provides a centralized platform that stores all calendars and makes any necessary changes, keeping users on the same page. Schedules are accessible to all employees within an organization, which enhances collaboration, facilitates efficient resource utilization, and reduces scheduling conflicts.
Reduced no-shows. Scheduling software can send automated email and text reminders to attendees, and calendar application integration alerts users to any scheduling conflicts. These reminders prevent late cancellations and no-shows by letting users reschedule or cancel their appointment/meeting within the system.
3. Typical features of scheduling software
Calendar management: Manage and create schedules using multiple calendars.
Online booking: Allows users to schedule appointments online via mobile device, booking portals, and/or kiosks.
Group scheduling: Helps users automatically find available meeting slots across multiple calendars.
Automated scheduling: Review resource availability to automatically generate schedules based on business needs, employee availability, and qualifications.
Real-time scheduling: Allows users to schedule an appointment and make bookings based on real-time availability.
4. The cost of scheduling software
Most scheduling tool vendors in the market are priced on a “per user, per month” basis, and can be divided into three pricing tiers based on their starting price:
$0 – $4
$4 – $12
*The pricing included in this list is for the entry-level/lowest priced offering found on vendor websites on September 17, 2018. These ranges correspond to the 25th, 75th, and 100th percentile of pricing information gathered from vendor websites of sample products.
The above list summarizes pricing for the base plans of most products. A premium scheduling tool that is priced higher may include additional features such as multi-location tracking, resource scheduling, mobile applications, SMS notifications, calendar integration, and payment platforms.
5. Considerations when purchasing scheduling software
Business intelligence and reporting. Since managers need to keep a close eye on team performance and resources utilization for effective planning, they should shortlist scheduling programs that track resource usage and provide performance and utilization insights/metrics. These metrics can be used to reduce operational issues such as overtime, no-shows, and resource underutilization. Small businesses with greater needs can look for solutions that offer dashboards and reporting capabilities.
Mobile access. Small businesses can accelerate growth by leveraging digital initiatives such as bring your own device (BYOD). To fully benefit from such initiatives, however, businesses need to move toward a culture that allows employees to work from anywhere. Companies exploring such changes should shortlist scheduling programs that offer mobile access, and evaluate the capabilities of any offered mobile applications before making a purchase decision.
6. Relevant scheduling software trends
Adoption of scheduling system bots. Small businesses may find it hard to compete if they fail to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) tools. According to our research, seven out of ten small businesses plan to adopt conversational user interface technology in the next one to two years. AI-powered chatbots will soon be capable of interacting with clients and helping them schedule appointments.
Rapid advancement in machine learning technologies. Machine learning tools are moving beyond handling small tasks to managing entire processes. Technology giants such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft are heavily investing in the research and development of such tools. Paired with out-of-the-box innovations from startups, machine learning tech offerings are expanding with disruptive solutions.
According to our research, half of the small businesses will have machine learning use cases in their IT infrastructure in the next one to two years. Smarter scheduling tool backed by predictive machine learning technologies will accurately forecast supply and demand, enabling management to make timely decisions and optimize business performance.