Jim Courtwood
Author of the Time & Attendance Consultant's Guide Series

Rostering Software- How it is used and when you need it.

When is Rostering Used?

Rostering software is used to manage the process of allocating employees to work shifts and keeping them informed of changes and opportunities for additional shifts. It can also assist with budgeting if equipped with a shift costing feature.

However, because Rostering Software is generally designed to cater to a dynamic work environment you may find that some products are overly complex and overpriced for your application. 

What are the features of Rostering Software?

Advanced rostering systems offer the following features.

 1)      Automatic roster completion – The roster is filled automatically based on the historical requirement of staff on each daily shift. 
2)      Skills-based rostering – employees are selected based on skills required to fill a certain shift. 
3)      SMS notifications – Employees are notified by SMS of shifts allocated to them. They can reject the shift and the system will find another suitable replacement, and notify them, and wait for a repsonse.
4)      Costing – Rosters can be costed and, in some systems, rosters can be automatically filled according to a predefined budget.
 5)      Time & Attendance calculations – the system calculates payroll hours and provided reporting for payroll hours. 

These features are very useful in applications when specific skills are required to fill a shift, where a pool of casual employees is large and where staffing levels vary from day to day and where the award interpretation requirements are simple. 

Great if you need advanced features, but they don't come cheap!

A typical cost for a cloud based  Rostering and Time and Attendance components is $7.50 per employee per month. For a company with 500 employees this would cost $45,000 per year... every year!, and that does not include the setup and configuration costs.

If your business has more fixed shifts where employees regularly work the same shift and all employees have the required skill for that shift then it would be more cost effective to select a more modestly featured rostering system that can publish rosters to the cloud and perhaps notify employees of changes by SMS. These systems acan easily be self configured.

Dedicated Time & Attendance may be a better alternative

 A dedicated Time & Attendance system specialises in automated award interpretation and does not require information about employees Rosters to accurately calculate payroll hours. A time and attendance system can use the captured employee start time to determine which shift the employee is working from a pre-configured list. 

Dedicated time and attendance systems can be hosted in the cloud to provide seamless access and are significantly less costly over time than software as a service applications that are charged on a payper employee permonth basis. 

Is it really a good idea to have rostering and time and attendnace in one package?

The case for an integrated Rostering and Time & Attendance System is based on the perception that there is a single location for the onboarding of employees and the management of both rostering and time and attendance. This can be the case but, on the other side of the argument is that the rostering component and, as a consequence, the time and attendance component are exclusively cloud-based.  

Cloud-based applications are much less flexible in many areas than software-based applications, particularly in the area of customisation and when dealing with more complex awards. A single Rostering/Time and Attendance application can be a compromise solution and there is a strong case for keeping the two separate so your company is not locked in should a better alternative to either rostering or time and attendance present itself.

Identify the process pain points first.

If staff rostering is difficult and complex but the time and attendance are simple then choose a Rostering Product with some Time & Attendance functionality.

If the award interpretation and payroll preparation is time consuming and complex but the rostering is simple then choose a time and attendance system with some basic rostering or a low cost dedicated cloud-based rostering system.

If  both the Time & Attendance and Rostering are complex then choose a dedicated attendance system  and a dedicated Rostering system with integration between the two applications.   

In summary, time and attendance and Rostering are very different applications and they are rarely done well in a single product.

Cloud-based rostering and attendance are very costly as they are exclusively provided on a pay per employee per month basis. Software based attendance systems can be cloud hosted providing similar convenience and functionality cloud- bases (SAAS) products.

Identify your greatest challenge  and select a product(s) that solves that primary issue before you consider any secondary functionality.

If you would like any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me ( details below).

Jim Courtwood

Time & Attendance Consultant


1300 553 254

0437 772 977