What is Rota Planning Software, and how can it help your business?

26 June 2020
clocks depicting start and end of shift for time and attendance

In any business, managing when and how your staff work is an important consideration. Depending on your industry, shift work and managing shift patterns can be a very complex task. This depends on the type of work that needs doing, as well as where and who needs to oversee the employee activity. Managing resources means understanding what needs to be done and then allocating who needs to do it and where and when it the activity takes place.

For this reason, the use of rota software can be very beneficial for all businesses - regardless of industry sector. This becomes more relevant as a business grows and more staff are hired.

As the number of staff within an organisation increases, scheduling requirements grow too, and making use of a system that can manage the complexities of staff rotas and shift patterns, becomes critical in saving both time and money.

In the next few sections, we’ll talk about how staff rota software actually works. In addition, we’ll provide some of the reasons why it should be used to help manage your staff working schedules and streamline your rota.

What Is a Rota?

The word “rota” comes from the Latin word for “wheel”. Today, a rota typically defines a list of tasks or activities, who is scheduled to next perform those activities, and often has a time element attached.

For example, in the home you may have a washing up rota for different family members to determine whose turn it is to wash-up next (which is a great way to stop the kids from arguing!). In a workplace, rotas are more commonly used to define shifts and work-patterns, and are invaluable to help with resource planning.

What Is a Rota Planning Software?

When a company is small and only has a handful of staff it's possible to plan, share and communicate rotas manually and fairly informally such as via email, spreadsheets or even just by chatting with staff or putting the week's rota on a whiteboard. However, as a company starts to grow, even by a small amount, it can quickly become apparently just how unscalable that type of an approach can be. That's where rota planning software comes in.

In many industries, where there are hundreds or even thousands of staff members, using spreadsheets to manage shifts and schedules can become something of a nightmare, especially when multiple versions of the same document are kept on different devices.

To help streamline the process, businesses can use rota management software to manage all shifts and schedules from a central dashboard. In addition to this, employees can log into and access their own shift rotas. This allows for quicker and more effective communication across the board, and provides for a more powerful, robust solution.

What Are The Main Challenges of Planning a Rota?

Learning how to plan a staff rota is fairly easy when a company is small is fairly easy. However, as the company grows, it becomes an entirely different situation.

Planning a rota without the help of specialist software can sometimes feel like a constant juggling act. A rota, by the very nature of the fact that it's directly influenced by the actions of humans, means that it's a living document which can be constantly changing.

Planning a rota manually often presents a number of problems, such as being:

  • extremely time consuming to plan and maintain
  • difficult to communicate in a reliable and robust way; especially for urgent or last minute changes
  • knowing when the optimum time to plan a rota is in order to minimise changes
  • challenging to ensure that you have the correct number of qualified or skilled resources present for the shift
  • time consuming to marry up planned resources with actual attendance. For example, without integrated Time and Attendance software, you'll need to check manually if you had any unexpected absences
  • living documents which are constantly changing, often requiring re-work when performed manually which wastes time and resources

Thankfully specialist rota planning software such as RotaOne can help significantly reduce of these problems

Benefits Of Using Staff Rota Software

As we have already touched on, using comprehensive rota management software can help ease the frustrations of trying to manage multiple schedules, payroll, and other HR tasks, particularly in large scale businesses.

In addition to this, there are many further benefits of using shift rota software:

Legal Compliance

All over the world, there are certain legal requirements regarding how often staff work, and when. It is very important that businesses and employers comply with these.

For businesses using spreadsheets, it can be difficult to keep track of how many hours an employee has worked over a certain period, and whether they’ve taken their annual leave or allocated sick days.

With rota software, trying to keep track of all employees’ personal data is a thing of the past. All relevant information is easy to find by drawing up all of the employee records in one go. This is subject to relevant administrative access.

GDPR And Data Management Compliance

In today’s world, it is absolutely critical for all businesses to safeguard their staff’s personal data. When spreadsheets are being shared via multiple locations, this can be difficult to manage, so, housing all employee data in a central staff rota system with modern in-built security protocols is a far more efficient and secure approach.

Accessing certain types of data can also be restricted to certain administrative profiles which helps to protect all staff information.


For small businesses that are growing, it can become more and more time consuming to draw up and manage staff rotas. For this reason, it can be difficult for the business to scale. There is not enough time to dedicate towards expanding the business because so much time goes into managing staff schedules.

However, with rota management software, you can effectively outsource part of your HR management with software. Staff can access, view and if given the appropriate permission, even edit their own schedules with self-service access, which minimises time spent on tedious rota tasks so that focus can go on more important things.

Dynamic Scheduling

Managers can often spend hours drawing up a staff rota, only to have things change at the last minute. This can be catastrophic in some cases, for example, in an emergency situation, there isn’t always enough time to communicate with staff manually and draw up an entirely new schedule. However, with shift rota software, managing a schedule becomes an ongoing and dynamic process. It can be edited, shifted, and changed on the go.

While staff rotas still require some planning, using rota software means that edits and changes can take place in real-time. This way, everyone involved can receive a notification immediately.

Software And Hardware Integrations

While staff rota software provides a turnkey solution to managing staff schedules in any business, the beauty of this kind of software is that it can integrate with other software and hardware too. For example, rota management software can be integrated with physical access control systems, meaning that keeping a record of staff clocking in and out becomes a seamless process.

Integrating with additional HR and payroll functionality is also an added advantage. Shift rota software tracks all employee working time, overtime, and leave. This can easily translate into the necessary data needed for payroll and other HR purposes.

Why Use Rota Planning Software?

There are many benefits to using rota software in your business. These include benefits for legal and data management compliance, scalability, dynamic scheduling, and other software and hardware integrations.

If you’re struggling to keep track of your staff schedule with spreadsheets, and are stuck with a manual system that takes up hours of your time each week, it might be time to take a look at implementing an effective staff rota software solution in your business.

While every business is different, the nature of this kind of software is that it is built to serve a variety of industries. It can also be tailored to incorporate all of your particular business requirements.

At Thinking Software, we’ve been working with customers around the world to streamline their staff rota management for over 25 years. Get in touch with us to find out more about our latest rota management software solution, RotaOne, which is built for any kind of business - regardless of size.

If you’re interested in finding out more, contact one of our staff members to arrange a free, no-obligation demo.

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