Editor’s Choice: Zip Schedules 2015

Scheduling solutions are garnering a lot of interest lately from operators. Due to a perfect storm of rising wages, health care costs, and employer liability filing this critical need has become more important than ever. For our 2015 Editor’s Choice Award, we examined numerous contenders, ultimately narrowing the field to three leaders: HotSchedules, eRestaurant, and Zip Schedules.

Zip Schedules earned our 2015 Editor’s Choice Award for its ease of implementation and use, built-in labor law compliance and a robust mobile application.

Zip Schedules-webStarting at $29 per month (pricing based on number of employees), Zip Schedules is a cloud-based software, with no upfront costs. Pricing is based upon the number of employees at the given business. What really sets Zip Schedules apart from the competition is its ease of use, robust employee communication center and mobile apps, and easy setup process. The technically oriented crowd will be happy to know that Zip Schedules is highly scalable with deployments ranging from tens to tens of thousands of employees.

Zip Schedules goes far beyond basic scheduling capabilities, with functionality that will help any business improve employee satisfaction with scheduling while maximizing labor efficiency.

Ease of Set-up

Getting started with Zip Schedules is as painless as it gets. It took us about 5 minutes to build and published our first schedule and invite our employees to join. The innovative start-up wizard helps with your first schedule creation. Zip Schedules requires the operator to simply: 1) Input their location, 2) Select applicable labor laws for their state, and 3) Enter employee names and job titles. After three easy steps, you’re ready to get started on your schedule.  Your employees are automatically sent invites via email to join and start receiving their schedule through their email or cell phone.

Ease of Use

A particularly useful feature is Zip Schedules ability to save both standard shifts and templates. Standard shifts are those that are consistently assigned week after week. For example, if you own a restaurant you may always want to schedule a prep cook in the morning. With Zip Schedules, you can save the 7am-12pm Prep Cook Shift as a “standard shift” and use it week after week. Do the same with your closing shift and you’ve got two of the most vital shifts of the day covered. Zip Schedules’ templates and standard shift options are especially useful if your shifts are relatively stable; simply choose and copy your template, make a few changes (if necessary) and publish. For holidays or special events, the feature is a huge time saver. By using a previously saved template that the system will automatically staff all your departments in just one click.

Publishing your schedule is just the start. Employees often request changes of don’t show up to work. Also, Employees often to need to trade shifts due to changing availability or sick days; without Zip Schedules employees have to call and confirm any schedule changes. Of course, inevitably one or both employees will occasionally forget the make the call, leaving the shift up in the air and the business short-staffed. Zip Schedules automates the entire process while holding the originally scheduled employee responsible until both management and a replacement have electronically approved the switch via the great mobile apps (available on iPhone and Android) or via the web.

Labor Law Compliance

Zip Schedules automatically integrates labor laws into the scheduling process. Operators simply choose their state and any applicable labor laws they would like to enforce. There are a multitude of labor laws, including overtime, break violations, as well as regulations for workers under 18 that must be attended to if a business does not want to face hefty penalties or lawsuits. For many businesses, overtime is the most common issue surrounding labor compliance. Zip Schedules will proactively warn you before allowing you to schedule an employee that will violate a labor law.  Managers have enough to worry about so knowing you will be alerted if there are possible labor law problems is a lifesaver.

Mobile Applications

Zip Schedules is engineered to be accessible anytime, anywhere; whether it is from your laptop, smartphone or tablet. The easy access and quick transfer of information to management or co-workers makes communications within the business much easier, and lag time is an issue of the past. Unique to Zip Schedules is the ability to retain employee confidentiality; instead of sharing phone numbers or emails; only employees’ names are visible. Mobile scheduling applications typically only allow the swapping of shifts whereas Zip Schedules offers numerous features. Zip Schedules allows co-workers to self-maintain their availabilities, manage time off, put in vacation time or sick days, or send out important alerts all via the mobile application.  And, operators don’t need to worry about putting too much flexibility in the hands of employees; most of these features require a manager to approve any changes.

Competition

Zip Schedules although the most streamlined and easy to use solution is not without its competition. There are two competitors I would like to focus on: eRestaurant and Hot Schedules.

eRestaurant-webeRestaurant

No review would be complete without eRestaurant, the flagship product from industry leader Altametrics. eRestaurant Workforce Management, is now managing over 1 million employees around the world.

eRestaurant is obviously a very highly scalable and sophisticated product (used by McDonald’s). It includes very sophisticated forecasting and business rules enforcement capabilities. While eRestaurant is far more capable than any other solution we found that it requires considerably more upfront setup and resources than our winner. Larger companies should put eRestaurant at the top of their list, but for companies with less than 50 locations Zip Schedules is probably a better choice.

HotSchedules Score-webHotSchedules

HotSchedules, a traditional web-based scheduling tool is a more expensive solution in comparison to Zip Schedules. HotSchedules requires a more elaborate implementation process, spanning up to four weeks. Our review found, Hot Schedules implementation is more complicated, and requires a larger upfront investment; compared to our Editor’s Choice winner, Zip Schedules. HotSchedules was the first web-based scheduler on the market, introduced in 1999, and it seems as if its interface is a bit dated as well. The interface appears busy and requires you to go through a process of complicated clicks to reach your destination. Unlike Zip Schedules, HotSchedules does not have the option of a free trial. You can try out a free “demo” and then decide to purchase the software, but you don’t have the luxury of getting to know the software within your business before committing to the product.