It wasn’t so long ago (and it is still a reality for many) that a business owner would waste hours a week writing up a roster, often on paper, to get it through to the next week.

They would often manually calculate the wage cost per day, and change the roster to fit in with their budget. And if there were changes to be made, or worse, if someone was sick or on holiday, there would be the desperate call to all and sundry to fill the gap.

It was the constant juggling and uncertainty that defined the most unenviable task of the owner. And if you ran multiple locations, you just never quite knew who was turning up when.

Fortunately there are plenty of rostering software on the market to solve this. MYOB has a lengthy list of add-ons for time tracking and rostering. So does QuickBooks Online.

The expert

Sholto Macpherson is an online accounting software analyst and business technology journalist and editor of Digital First.

While he would not recommend one system over another, he said one of the most popular rostering apps is Deputy that connects to Xero.

Made in Australia, and expanding to a global audience at a rate of 500% in the past year, Deputy offers the following:

  • Employee scheduling: Creating rosters with one-click notification.
  • Timesheets: Records staff clocking on and off. You can even approve and export to payroll in just a couple of clicks.
  • Task delegation: Assign work to particular staff members, as a one-off or recurring.
  • Employee utilisation and productivity: Make sure you don’t have too few or too many staff on at any time.
  • Communication: Broadcast a message to all staff without having to do the time-consuming ring-around for shifts.

Sholto said it was recently trialled on a local supermarket with some great results.

“The owner was spending four hours a week on a manual roster and calculating wage cost with calculator and pen and paper,” he said.

“Many of the young staff were at university so there would be constant changing of shifts to attend classes or parties.

“The owner had to make up to five phone calls before finding replacement for a Saturday night.”

He said using Deputy reduced the time for rostering from four hours a week to 30 minutes. And previously it would take one day a fortnight to enter payroll. With Deputy, that was reduced to less than one hour to review.

The other benefits included:

  • If someone calls in sick can send one broadcast to all staff to fill it. First in, first served. No more phone calls.
  • Timesheets pushed through automatically to Xero. No manually entering timesheets to accounting program
  • Staff use smartphones to clock on and off. No more punch cards.