Scheduling Software Essentials

Spreadsheet with data and columns.

Lt. Steve Lynk (Ret.)

Along with saving you time in developing the initial schedule, your chosen software should make it easier to fill open shifts and ensure proper coverage.

Law enforcement administrators have a lot on their plates. From recruiting and training officers, to coordinating meetings and responding to daily disruptions, their list of duties is extensive. Of these, ensuring adequate shift coverage to meet their department’s requirements is one of the most critical. It also can be one of the most time-consuming. Building public safety staff schedules is a tedious process. Factor in no-shows and other unforeseen absences and managing schedules can become downright exhausting.

Managers and supervisors often spend hours making calls to fill open shifts. To combat this, many police and sheriff’s departments started implementing online scheduling software to manage their employee schedules. This ensures each shift is properly covered and frees up managers’ time so they can focus on other responsibilities.

While there are several scheduling software options, managers should consider each system’s capabilities to determine whether it will help them reduce the time spent on scheduling and ensure the right people are scheduled in the right time and place. Here are some features to look for when selecting scheduling software to fit your public safety department’s unique requirements.

Open the Lines of Communication

When an unforeseen absence occurs, the resulting open shift needs to be covered quickly. Software which includes an integrated messaging system allows managers to text or E-mail available and qualified individuals or groups of employees. For optimal accessibility and efficiency, departments should consider software which includes a mobile app.

Share and Share Alike

Many public safety employees work in multiple departments or locations. Some scheduling software allows managers to share schedules across the entire organization, so changes to the schedule are immediately available to officers, administration and support staff. This not only gives everyone access to real-time data, it also shows managers how many total hours are scheduled which can help reduce unnecessary overtime.  

Cover All the Bases

Public safety department managers must ensure each shift is accurately covered in compliance with rules and regulations. Administrators should look for scheduling software which tracks skills, training and certifications. When a shift needs to be filled, managers can quickly identify and notify only properly qualified personnel. For added security, some software alerts managers when certifications are nearing expiration.

Take the Load Off of Managers

The most efficient way managers can be certain shifts are covered is to give officers the tools to handle it themselves. Scheduling software which allows employees to submit swap and cover requests online makes it easy for them to find another employee to trade or pick up a shift. To ensure there are no scheduling conflicts and that shifts are properly covered, look for software which notifies managers of schedule requests and allows them to approve or deny each request prior to any schedule changes.

Hundreds of public safety departments have discovered the benefits of online officer and staff scheduling software which provide managers with more time to focus on day-to-day operations.

Steve Lynk lives in Fargo, ND, and served on the Fargo Police Department for 30 years. He held several positions within the department, including patrol officer, sergeant and lieutenant. Steve retired from the police department in 2015 and is currently the Senior Law Enforcement Account Executive at Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee and officer scheduling software, including ScheduleAnywhere.