Over the past ten years, many companies have introduced cloud-based Software as a Service tools to manage processes within their organisations. However, we often hear complaints about the workload and admin required to operate these systems. Business leaders also want to minimise the impact of software implementations on front-line staff and remove unproductive and mundane tasks.
In this article, we look at the role of workforce management automation and why it is essential to consider how automating the processes required to manage a software system is beneficial before you decide to buy it.
Workforce management software often tries to solve a complex puzzle by helping companies ensure they have the right people in the right place at the right time, delivering 100% accurate payroll information and fast, prompt leave management. In order to do this, there are quite a few processes that need to be completed to ensure a modern workforce management system delivers on its objectives.
What are the benefits of workforce management automation?
There are many benefits to workforce management automation. Here are the key processes that can be automated:
- Time-saving: Front-line staff, individual employees, and head office administrators can all be freed from mundane tasks, creating more time to focus on value-added activities.
- Accuracy: Workforce management automation can remove manual errors, and AI-generated forecasts and budgets are more accurate than ones created by managers on spreadsheets.
- Better outcomes: Particularly when using AI, an automated workforce management system can produce rotas that outperform those created by a human on every level, from generating higher sales to creating shifts that staff are happier to work.
- Improved morale: If you remove mundane, repetitive tasks from someone’s routine, you will likely see an increase in work morale.
What key processes can we automate within a workforce management system?
Here are some of the key processes you should expect to have automated within your workforce management system:
- AI Forecasting
Predicting the correct number of staff for a particular day or shift has always been a challenge. Schedule too few staff, and you risk poor customer service and less than optimal revenue; overstaff, and you face unnecessary costs. AI-driven forecasting analyses historical data, trends, and other relevant factors to predict staffing needs accurately. Modern workforce management systems can use AI to forecast the number of people per role per 30-minute slot during a week, generating the optimal revenue at all times.
- AI-Generated Budgets
Budgeting, especially for staff costs, can be difficult and time-consuming and often doesn’t match the predicted demand. We often see demand forecasts that will cost more to staff than the budget allowed. AI can automate this process by calculating the optimal cost for a given staffing level. This figure can then be set as an automatic budget and compared in real-time against actual expenditure.
- AI-Powered Auto Scheduling
Gone are the days when managers spent hours manually creating schedules. AI-driven auto scheduling considers factors like employee availability, staffing levels required to meet demand, and legal regulations to generate optimal rosters automatically. In our experience, AI will create better outcomes for the business in every rota it builds, including increased revenue, better staff satisfaction and reduced costs.
- Real-Time Pay Rule Calculations
Calculating pay can be complex, slow and inaccurate with multiple shifts, overtime, and varying rates. Workforce management software can compute these in real time, ensuring accurate and timely payroll files.
- System Approvals for Time and Attendance Data
Good time and attendance software includes an end-of-day process where the actual hours worked are approved and used as the basis for payroll. This is needed to approve overtime, deal with lateness or sickness or ensure the right employee gets paid when covering for an absent colleague. However, your front-line managers shouldn’t be required to approve shifts that match standard rules. If someone clocks in a minute before their shift starts and clocks out a minute after it finishes, the system should automate the approval process. This reduces discrepancies, saves managers time approving shifts and streamlines payroll operations.
- Automated Time-Off Approvals
Instead of manually tracking and approving time off, good workforce management software should include an absence management solution that can automatically approve time off requests based on predefined rules. This again saves managers time and gives a quick response to employees.
- API-Based Integrations
A well-integrated workforce management system allows seamless data flow between various applications. Whether syncing employee data from HR software or feeding payroll data to accounting tools, API-based integrations ensure real-time data availability and consistency.
The Power of Self-Service: A Valuable Addition
When looking at workforce management automation and considering platforms, you should also look at the level of self-service available. This also saves time on processes which may be difficult to automate. While automation through software is transformative, promoting self-service adds another layer of efficiency. Encouraging employees to take charge of certain aspects of their work-life benefits both the company and the employees. There are many aspects to self-service within workforce management; here are some key ones that will save everyone time.
- Requesting leave: Rather than filling out a leave request form, which needs a manager to enter into a system, staff can directly apply for time off via a self-service portal. This enters the request into the system and speeds up the approval process.
- Checking Pay and Hours: Employees can proactively check their expected pay and hours before payday and raise any issues with their manager. This reduces payroll queries dramatically as they are dealt with as they occur by front-line management.
- Shifts: Allowing staff to swap shifts or managers to offer shifts via a cloud-based tool and allowing your staff to accept shifts via an app speeds up the process of filling blank shifts.
For managers considering implementing a workforce management platform, thinking through the automation and self-service level is a key part of the decision-making process. You should look to reduce the administrative burden on your front-line staff, deliver better outcomes for the business and reduce errors.
In the age of technology, it’s time to move away from manual, error-prone methods and embrace automated, efficient, and accurate workforce management solutions.