A recent news story about Starbucks’ automated scheduling software that generated inconsistent schedules and hardships for employees highlights some key points to keep in mind if you’re implementing a scheduling system. If there are problems, most often, it’s not the software’s fault, but the humans involved in selecting and implementing it.

Here are three tips to increase your chances for a successful implementation: 


1. Invest in the Vendor Selection Process

  • Be sure you know what your requirements are and think twice before choosing the low bidder or hot new company or product that doesn’t have any references.  In other words, look beyond the bells and whistles.
  • If you don’t have in-house expertise, use experienced HCM consultants to determine what works best for your business because one size doesn’t fit all. Industry consultants have worked with a variety of companies and have seen the ups and downs, best practices and difficulties of getting a software application to generate realistic schedules.


2. Avoid Over-Engineering the Solution

  • Software applications that offer “fully automated and optimized scheduling” — promising that perfect schedules will be generated with one click — are not always the best option. This utopia is enticing, but sometimes the final design, though technically correct, is difficult or impractical to maintain and use.
  • In some cases, “assisted scheduling” is simpler to deploy and maintain.  In these situations, the software suggests scheduling options to the user, but the manager makes the final edits before assigning it to the employees. We recommend this approach to companies who are implementing an automated scheduling solution for the first time because it’s better to walk before trying to run.


3. Don’t Shortchange the Implementation

  • Find the right people to implement and test the solution before rollout. If the software wasn’t configured properly, the output may not actually reflect your company’s intended policies and practices.
  • Don’t set your people up for failure. Even the right team can’t succeed in a project with overly aggressive timelines, where the budget for testing and training gets slashed to pay for other components.  These short-sighted implementation decisions can result in less than optimal use of some really great software.


Companies that adhere to these guidelines are more likely to select and implement the right solution and realize the ROI they expect. Ignoring them may result in frustration and disappointment, causing you to abandon the software and not realize the root of the problems was human error.

Are you considering implementing a scheduling solution or struggling with an existing on?  Let us know and we’ll share how we can help.

Rob Leonard, Chief Operating Officer

Rob Leonard initially joined Sability in November 2009 as the Vice President of Strategy and Business Development and since that time has helped develop new vendor partnerships and refine Sability’s corporate strategies. As COO, Rob is responsible for managing Sability’s daily operations including consulting practices, staff, customer engagements and quality of delivery; with a focus on creating scalable processes in line with Sability’s growth.