Important criteria when choosing a planning software

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There are a lot of companies that offer different software options. Each company offers its own added value. So, when you, as a planning manager, start looking for a new planning tool, there is a lot on offer and you can go in several directions.

The budget that the organization wants to set aside for the tool greatly influences the choice. On the one hand, there is the option of choosing a tool with a limited number of functionalities and a lower cost. When there is a larger budget available, tools with a total package of state-of-the-art functionalities are also among the options. In addition to the financial aspect, we recommend that you take into account six other characteristics when selecting a planning tool.

1) Budget-friendliness

As just mentioned, the price of the software must fit within your budget. Compare the pricing of different tools, taking into account additional implementation, integration and/or maintenance costs. Determine the Return on Investment (ROI) for each software before making a final decision. To determine this, look at the different features and functions of each program and compare what the program will yield you with what it will cost you. Having access to all the necessary functionality and staying within budget can be a difficult combination to achieve. Modularity can provide relief here. A modular tool is built from different components, depending on customer to customer. A modular tool for your organization will therefore consist of the modules that enable your required functionalities. The result? You only pay for features that you will actually use.

2) User-friendliness

It is very important that the transition to the new program is not too challenging for the planners, customers and employees who will be working with it. This can be tested during an extensive demonstration, where any future users can become thoroughly acquainted with the system. It goes without saying that the tool must make the planners' work easier and more convenient than with the previous software. Therefore, choose programs with automated functions such as automatic confirmations, reminders and notifications via e-mail, SMS or pop-up. A synchronization option with external calendars such as the Google or iCloud calendar can also increase the ease of use. In addition, UX design is an important aspect of usability. Pay due attention to the interface and its user-friendliness.

3) Data protection and storage

Since May 2018, GDPR and data security has been a hot topic and it should be in our opinion. With confidential business data and sensitive information such as customer data, you can't be cautious enough. That's why it's extremely important to invest in a secure tool, which ideally includes cloud-based data storage. When the software makes automatic backups, you don't have to worry about data being lost. On top of that, cloud-based software can be accessed on any device. That way, you can work employee-independently and across departments.

4) Technical support

Despite the fact that you will be looking for the most user-friendly scheduling software, there are undoubtedly numerous questions that will come up, especially in the start-up phase. That's why it's a good idea to inquire from the start about any help desks (accessible via email, phone or chat) or support in the form of demo sessions, manuals, extensive FAQs, face-to-face training sessions or how-to videos. Demo sessions, by the way, can be requested before purchasing the software, which will already give you a good idea of exactly how the software works.

5) Compatibility with mobile devices

People are browsing the Internet more via their smartphones than via their computers or laptops. Mobile is omnipresent and so a planning software that is not accessible on smartphones and tablets is not an option. Additionally, make sure to choose a tool that is compatible with both Android and iOS or has its own application that is accessible in both operating systems. Employees want to be able to access their work schedule whenever and wherever they want. The same goes for planners who want to be able to add an extra worker to the schedule at any location.

6) Scalability

If you have growth ambitions as an organization, it is important that the planning software is scalable. That means that the tool must be able to grow with the company. A software with hierarchical user roles, access rights and permissions can be very useful in a company with multiple offices and a growing team.

7) Innovativeness

Standing still is moving backwards. In this VUCA world, characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, features can very suddenly become relevant or irrelevant. That is why it is advisable to choose a tool that is innovative and continuously developed. In this way, innovations in certain business processes or the legal framework can always be facilitated by appropriate features of your planning software.

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