Scheduling takes money, time, and resources. All things that could be better spent elsewhere. Yet, so many fire and police departments still use pen and paper to create their schedules, even when there are more efficient methods available. Many public safety agencies are making the switch to staff scheduling software to ensure the correct number of first responders with the right qualifications are scheduled to respond to incidents. If your department is still using the old-fashioned method, check out some of the main benefits of staff scheduling software, and see why many departments are switching to a software-based solution.
Making manual changes to a paper schedule can be tedious. Crossing things out, adding them back in. Trying to figure out – is that a five or an S?
Commanders using paper must go through a lengthy manual process to fill a staffing breach. Reading through a list of potential staff, contacting each person individually, waiting for a response – it takes time.
Departments that switch from traditional pen and paper to staff scheduling software often report that the scheduling process goes faster and smoother than ever before.
Staff scheduling software allows administrators to find the right crews, approve vacation and sick days, and manage overtime bookings fast. Changes can be made quickly, and the interface is specifically-designed to be easy to read and edit. With less time spent staffing, fire chiefs and commanders can spend more time on other activities that benefit the department and their communities.
Return on Investment
Plenty of other industries use software to schedule shifts and notify staff. Many companies see an increase in efficiency and employee engagement when the right people are scheduled to work at the right times.
For the public safety industry, scheduling staff with the right qualifications and right roles is critical.
In our case, the return on investment is lives saved. Commanders need to ensure that they have the correct number of people with the right qualifications, that there is appropriate staffing so the apparatus will respond, and that vacation and sick day requests can be handled efficiently. Otherwise, your constituents may not get the help they need in time.
When there is a breach or last minute vacancy, trucks can’t respond to incidents until that breach has been filled.
With scheduling software in place, commanders can fill breaches as soon as possible, so first responders can get to the scene quickly. Response times go down, and departments can avoid loss of life and improve public safety.
Another way that online scheduling software beats out paper is its ability to integrate with your department’s existing processes. With staff scheduling software, you can maintain the same data across scheduling, payroll, training, resource management, and other systems.
Staff scheduling software can also connect with command and response software, so departments can maintain a coordinated response prior to, during, and after an incident. This ensures that the staff on duty have the necessary certifications and skillsets, are properly documented and accounted for, and get their hours logged in payroll.
When people make manual changes to their rosters, that information may not always be communicated well across an entire department. With automated updates, you never need to worry about how “Paper A” says something different from “Paper B.”
Data Storage and Security
We’ve all been through it: you can’t find that clipboard you put down even though you’ve looked everywhere. Papers can easily get damaged or lost, and storing documents takes up a lot of physical space.
With staff scheduling software in place, administrators no longer need to dig through folders and files to find what they’re looking for.
By employing scheduling software, administrators, commanders, and first responders can store and categorize large amounts of data in one central, organized location, either on a local server or via cloud-based storage.
Most types of scheduling software also allow administrators to create different admin levels to keep important personnel data secure and maintain control over who has access to certain data.
Ease of Access
Want to view your roster anytime, anywhere? Make changes on the go? Departments that are still using manual scheduling processes are limited in how they can access rosters and approve requests.
Staff scheduling software makes it possible for staff to update information like availability, personnel details, and existing certifications from any place or device. Commanders can view data about current and future rosters in order to address any staffing issues before they become real problems.
While it’s always nice to pay homage to tradition, we live in a digital world. The benefits of crew scheduling software over pen and paper methods are too good to pass up. Many agencies are making the change, and it’s worth considering if staff scheduling software can help your department in the long run.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to check out some of our latest articles:
Sanjay Kalasa is the president of Adashi. He is also a current active volunteer firefighter/EMT at the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department in Maryland.