Joel Beverley: Growing your SME with specialist rota software



As your business grows, so does its complexity. New barriers to growth emerge as a result of this complexity, including poor communication, issues with staff morale, and cash flow problems. While some of these issues require deep structural changes, many of the problems related to workforce planning can be solved surprisingly quickly.


Reviewing rota plans and workload


If your business has hourly workers, shift workers, or any type of variable shift pattern, rota planning is a pivotal part of your day to day operations and long term success. This is particularly true for small businesses that may have a higher proportion of part-time staff to cover business functions like HR or office admin.

If done properly, rota planning can help you optimise staff coverage while taking into account staff hours, customer demand, and any working time regulations you need to follow. Online rota software can also help you build rotas that better match the availability and preferences of your staff through integrated leave management, availability, and even shift swaps.


Allowing flexible working


Staff morale has the scope to affect a company in both positive and negative ways. Much of this is dependent on how employees’ working days are structured. By law, all employees are entitled to ask for flexible working arrangements, provided they have been with the company for at least 26 weeks. This law is not limited to just larger companies, and if an employer does not handle a request in a reasonable manner, it can be taken to an employment tribunal — something that might have a damaging effect on a smaller business.


To facilitate flexible working at your small business, online rota software offers a range of tools, such as mobile, GPS-restricted clocking; attendance alerts, and automatically generated timesheets. This can help you make sure coverage is maintained even with flexitime, and double-check that staff are working their contracted hours.


More reliable and accurate timesheets


Just as you wouldn’t allow employees to take money from the till, you should also have procedures in place to ensure staff aren’t earning wages for hours they haven’t worked.


‘Time theft’ is common in systems where staff self-report their hours. Examples range from staff adding a few extra minutes to their breaks, to ‘buddy punching’, wherein a staff member clocks in for a colleague who is running late. In more extreme cases, employees may even leave work for hours at a time and return later just to clock out.


While on the surface this may seem fairly harmless, the costs soon add up — and some staff may even try to take advantage of your indifference to time theft.

Again, staff scheduling software can help make sure staff are paid for the hours they actually work, with GPS or IP-restricted mobile clock-ins, or PIN, photo or even biometric secured clock-ins from a static terminal.


Clocking data is automatically fed into timesheets, where it can be viewed by both the employee and their manager(s). The manager can then make manual adjustments where necessary, and export the data along with any leave information, ready for payroll.


Processes in practice


Award-winning small business Millers Fish and Chips switched from paper-based rotas to RotaCloud’s rota planning software to help improve the efficiency of the business. Since the switch, they’ve seen a reduction in their labour costs from 25% of turnover to 19%. Also, they’ve seen indirect savings through time spent on rota management, which is down from about eight hours a week to around 1.5.

Co-owner Nick Miller is now able to check staff coverage and attendance from his smartphone, wherever he is — helping him make sure the business is in good hands while he’s away.


Today’s technology gives us access to endless content and information at our fingertips — and business processes should take advantage of that. Rota planning software offers a holistic approach to many aspects of workforce planning — from shift management to attendance reporting. Businesses with hourly staff or a flexible workforce shouldn’t ignore the critical role that staff scheduling can play in growing a business — or they risk being left behind.


By Joel Beverley, co-founder at RotaCloud.

Share your thoughts with our community of game changers