Start a conversation about shift planning, and most people think we’re talking about factories, warehouses, retail and hospitality businesses. But there are many sectors where shift planning tools can help organisations manage staff movements more effectively – including the education sector.

When you think about it, schools, universities and colleges are effectively shift-based businesses; team members work in set patterns, which must be expertly coordinated in order to ensure the complete operation functions smoothly. And while many academic institutions are currently using timetabling software to schedule staff workload, there’s more to running a well-oiled machine than just getting teachers’ timetables right.

So, if you’re part of an educational organisation, before you automatically choose the standard timetabling package, consider whether professional shift planning software could be a better option for ensuring A* grade staff management.

Make putting together the academic timetable less of headache

Organising the academic timetable is like climbing Everest; it can take senior leadership teams many hours to perfect. One of the main reasons for this is that not every staff member is working to a standard, full-time contract.

While timetabling software can put the basic structure in place, many academic staff spend time manually checking the schedule for their department, to ensure that team members have been allocated workload that fits with their contract terms.

A good shift planning platform will vastly improve this process, allowing organisations to set rules and limitations around when staff can be timetabled. If an employee is accidentally assigned lessons at a time or day they are unavailable, this will be flagged-up by the system, so alternative arrangements can be made immediately.

And if changes need to be made during the academic year – for example, when a member of staff leaves and is replaced by someone on a different contract – users will be notified of any clashes when the timetable is modified, to ensure that updates do not disrupt the flow of work.

Manage the movements of both teaching and non-academic staff

Timetabling software focuses on the movements of academic staff, but they only account for part of the educational workforce. A huge network of administrative, operational, catering and pastoral workers are required to keep institutions running smoothly, and many of these have workload scheduling requirements as well – which don’t necessarily run to the academic timetable.

Shift planning software can accommodate the needs of non-academic employees alongside teaching personnel, to ensure that everyone is working the right hours for their contract type, and that core tasks and responsibilities are covered at all times.

Shift planners also allow users to input events that affect the entire staff body, such as training days and bank holidays, blocking out the calendar so everyone knows what’s happening.

Another benefit of investing in shift planning tools is that they can integrate holiday calendars for non-academic staff, if these team members are eligible to take leave during term-time. This ensures that employee absences do not compromise the quality of academic experience available to students, and that teachers have the support they need to do their job effectively.

Provide access to schedules on-the-go

Getting the schedule right is one thing; connecting staff to that schedule is another. Staff in all departments need to access their timetable in an instant, wherever they are in the building.

Market-leading shift planning technology supports strong communications, by allowing personnel to look up their schedule remotely via laptop or mobile. This is particularly useful within organisations running two-week timetables, as teaching staff can check their lesson requirements on-the-go.

Choose shift planning technology over timetable software

Outstanding student experiences begin with effective organisation, yet many institutions struggle to manage the movements of their staff. Timetabling software can assist up to a point, but a more sophisticated solution is needed to coordinate the availability of the entire workforce, while still meeting each individual’s needs.

Shift planning software might have been created for the commercial environment, but now academic organisations can benefit from its comprehensive capabilities. In addition to making timetable management much easier, it can oversee operational activities alongside academic requirements, so that every team member is working effectively for the good of the school.

WhosOffice provides shift planning software for the education sector. To find out how we can improve the way you manage staff movements, try WhosOffice for free.

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