The best shift planning software lets you easily create and automate complex schedules and get insight into your team’s productivity, saving you time and money.

Many businesses rely on shift work to optimize the way they meet customer demand, particularly in industries such as hospitality, manufacturing, and healthcare. However, managing shifts manually can be time-consuming and costly, as managers have to repeatedly check staff availability and build shift schedules from scratch.

Shift planning software solves this problem by streamlining scheduling via automation, and letting employees accept or request shifts with a click. Complex patterns including open shifts, rotating shifts, and demand-driven staffing becomes easier with pre-made templates and an intuitive interface.

The best shift planning solutions include additional functionality to make your workforce more efficient, such as task tracking and time clock, and ensure your schedule complies with labor laws. Read on for a full breakdown on the top 10 best software planning solutions.

If you don’t have the time to read through our research, jump down to our quick comparison table.

Our Top Picks

  1. Best all-in-one shift planning software

    Learn more
  2. Good for time tracking

  3. Good for Business already using QuickBooks

What to Look For in a Shift Planning Software

When browsing for your shift planning app, keep in mind these key features that make up a complete solution:

  • Shift scheduling and calendar: A daily, weekly, and monthly calendar view shows which shifts are scheduled and allows you to create new ones by using templates or automation.
  • Employee availability and time off: Some employees aren’t available at a particular time or have booked time off, so it’s important this is reflected in your team’s work schedule.
  • Time clock: Employees clocking in and out confirms that the shifts are being completed and leads to more accurate timesheets.
  • Task tracking: Adding tasks to shifts and having employees update progress is a way to measure whether your schedule is productive.
  • Reporting and analytics: Shift data helps you make better business decisions. For instance, you can analyze hours worked per day to identify your busiest day of the week.
  • Instant messaging: One-to-one and group chats support effective scheduling, as  workers can check shift details and swap shifts as needed.
  • Compliance: The software ensures you adhere to federal, state, and local labor laws, such as minimum wage and overtime requirements. This lowers your legal risks.

The 9 Best Shift Planning Softwares of 2023

  1. Best all-in-one shift planning software

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    The Connecteam scheduling feature, with web and mobile views, shows a calendar with shifts, comments, and task summaries

    Kicking off our list is Connecteam’s all-in-one shift planning app. This software solution has everything you need to easily create and manage optimal employee schedules, wherever you are. 

    Its shift planning capabilities go above and beyond with time-saving tools and automations, inconsistency flagging, shift information, self-service shift replacement, notifications, a time clock, an in-app chat, and more.

    Let’s dive deeper into Connecteam’s shift planning features and how they can help improve your day-to-day.

    Time-saving capabilities

    Aside from creating single or multiple shifts, Connecteam provides various tools to help you save valuable time and effort. These include the ability to copy shifts from a previous week, duplicate existing ones, set shifts as recurring, and use custom templates for specific jobs, shifts, or an entire week that you can simply drag and drop right into your current schedule. 

    You can assign shifts and jobs to your employees based on their registered qualifications and submitted availability. This way, you’re assured you always have the right person for the job. You can also publish open shifts for qualified users to claim with or without your approval, depending on your preferred settings.

    Inconsistency flagging

    Another power capability is that Connecteam helps you avoid costly scheduling mistakes by flagging conflicts and inconsistencies in your schedules. The app, for instance, highlights when an employee is double booked or when working hours exceed your set overtime limit. 

    Shift information

    Want to set your employees up with all the information they need to get right to it? No problem! You can add information or instructions to each shift, such as location, notes, tasks, and attachments. This way, your staff has all relevant information at their fingertips, eliminating unclarity or unnecessary back-and-forth.

    Self-service shift replacement 

    The self-service employee shift replacement feature, allows users to swap shifts with other qualified and available colleagues without having to involve you, the manager. This option helps save valuable time and effort that you would otherwise spend shuffling your schedule around.

    Notifications

    Connecteam’s customizable notifications ensure you and your team never miss a scheduling update, change, or request. Get instantly notified when users accept or reject shifts, complete shift tasks, or are late clocking into their shifts. This way, you’re always in the loop and can take immediate action when necessary.

    Time clock

    Another convenient feature is Connecteam’s time clock. With it, employees can clock in and out from shifts by simply clicking on the time clock button right at the bottom of their shift. This allows you to track your employees’ work hours as well as time spent on particular projects, jobs, or clients.

    In-app chat

    With the in-app chat, you and your team stay in direct contact, no matter where you are working from. All users can easily access the chat from anywhere within the platform and instantly get in touch with all the right people.

    And so much more

    In addition to robust shift planning features, Connecteam offers exceptional customer service, an intuitive user interface, excellent employee management tools, and high customizability, which allows you to adjust the platform to suit your precise business needs.

    Key Features

    • Automated scheduling
    • Drag & drop
    • Customizable templates
    • Recurring shifts
    • Shift notes & attachments
    • Overtime notifications
    • In app-chat

    Pros

    • Intuitive and easy to use
    • All-in-one solution
    • Great customer support
    • Budget-friendly

    Cons

    • Integrations in development

    Pricing

    Starts at just $29/month for the first 30 users Free 14-day trial Free plan available

    14-day free trial, no credit card required

    Start your free trial
  2. Good for: Time tracking

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    Deputy employee scheduling software showing a schedule on mobile and web platforms.

    Deputy has many attractive shift planning features, including timesheets, absence management, and time clock, for an affordable cost. Employees can make changes, like requesting and swapping shifts, and adding general availability and time off. You can set up shift schedules and templates, and use the AI tool to automate shift creation based on budget, breaks, and other requirements.

    A key feature is tasking, which lets managers assign tasks to individuals and shifts and tracks if they’re done. In addition, the performance and journaling feature allows employees to get feedback on their work. Teams can post communications on the news feed, such as a new shift opening.

    A wage and hour compliance system ensures you stay on top of federal, state, and local labor laws, such as paying the correct overtime wages. Deputy offers 24/7 support on phone, email, and chat.

    Learn more about Deputy

    Key Features

    • Timesheets
    • Shift automation
    • Task tracking
    • Wage and hour compliance

    Pros

    • Value for money
    • User-friendly interface

    Cons

    • Lacks the features to be an all-in-one app
    • Not customizable enough for enterprises

    Pricing

    Starts at $3.50 per user Free Trial: Yes Free Plan: Yes

  3. Good for: Business already using QuickBooks

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    Graphic showing an example of a QuickBooks employee scheduling page

    QuickBooks Time is a shift scheduler, timesheet manager, and PTO tracker, all in the same platform. You can create shift templates, repeat schedules, and easily drag-and-drop shifts in the team calendar. Employees cannot request or swap shifts, but they get shift updates via app notification, email, and SMS.

    QuickBooks Time logs and updates employees’ locations throughout the day using GPS location tracking. This is particularly useful for courier and logistics businesses, as it helps identify and assign the workers closest to a job site.

    Project management features include job timelines, task tracking, and a project-based communications feed. To analyze data such as budgeted hours to actual hours worked, run a real-time report segmented by jobs, tasks, and employees.

    Learn more about QuickBooks Time

    Key Features

    • Shift scheduling
    • GPS location tracking
    • Hours and wages compliance
    • Project tracking

    Pros

    • Tracking live employee location
    • Project management tools

    Cons

    • Employees can’t request or swap shifts
    • Only one admin profile included in base fee

    Pricing

    Starts at $10/month for three months ($20/month thereafter) + $8/user/month Free Trial: Yes Free Plan: No

  4. Good for: Restaurant businesses

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    7Shifts scheduling software

    7shifts supports restaurant businesses from hiring staff to scheduling shifts and managing tasks. Employees get notified instantly when you add them to a new schedule, which you can do quickly by drag-and-dropping shifts in your calendar. The software has many restaurant-specific templates you can customize to your labor demands. You can also track PTO and overtime.

    The time clock feature helps employees track their working hours, which creates a timesheet that easily integrates with payroll software. A compliance check is there to ensure you adhere to federal, state, and local labor laws including minimum wage laws.

    Integrating your Point of Sale (POS) system helps you analyze your labor costs versus real-time sales and create profitability forecasts. You can also add multiple tip pools and alter settings to automatically distribute tips among team roles.

    Learn more about 7shifts

    Key Features

    • Shift scheduling
    • Time clock and timesheets
    • Task management
    • POS sales integration

    Pros

    • Free plan available
    • Designed for restaurant staff

    Cons

    • Limited analytics
    • Tip pooling paid separately from main plan

    Pricing

    Starts at $34.99/location/month (up to 30 employees) Free Trial: Yes Free Plan: Yes

  5. Good for: Core HR

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    Zoho People graphic showing an employee checking in for a shift

    Zoho People combines time tracking and shift scheduling with Core HR functionality, including onboarding, payroll, time off and expense management. It even features an employee-facing chatbot.

    Shift planning-wise, Zoho People exceeds basics such as shift templates and rotation, time clock, and timesheet approval. Advanced features include tracking attendance using facial recognition, covering multiple locations and time zones, and getting instant shift insights. This functionality helps you to organize your workforce efficiently and save money.

    Core HR data—like your employee database and document storage—keeps important information one click away, while tools like skill set improvement help evaluate team performance and productivity. Such features help you decide who is best suited for specific shifts.

    Learn more about Zoho People

    Key Features

    • Shift and attendance management
    • Employee database
    • Performance tracking
    • Time off management

    Pros

    • Breadth of employee management features
    • Value for money

    Cons

    • No shift scheduling or timesheets on free plan
    • No communication tools

    Pricing

    Starts at $2.50/user/month Free Trial: Yes Free Plan: Yes

  6. Good for: Healthcare sector

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    A screenshot of Skedulo’s employee shift scheduling software.

    Skedulo’s plans are primarily designed for managing healthcare schedules. For instance, scheduling, rostering, and dispatching features have specialized functionality depending on healthcare areas, such as lab and diagnostic, home care, and therapy. 

    Skedulo also includes packages for industries including real estate and energy and utilities, but these are more limited in functionality and specialization than the ones aimed at healthcare clients.

    In the lab and diagnostic module, you can set up a shift schedule based on skill and capacity, and allow clients to book appointments. Skedulo matches the right technician to the appointment, based on pre-set conditions. Employee availability and pending jobs are displayed in real time, and you can automate shift patterns across multiple locations.

    In healthcare, reliable data measuring labor capacity and performance is critical to a high-quality service. Skedulo tracks healthcare metrics including appointment cancellations, distance from patient, and careworker utilization. You can also send instant messages to staff, which is essential in high-pressure healthcare environments.

    Learn more about Skedulo

    Key Features

    • Scheduling and dispatching
    • Shifts and rostering
    • Instant messaging
    • Healthcare analytics

    Pros

    • Made with healthcare shifts in mind
    • Clients can book appointments

    Cons

    • No timesheet function
    • Lacks features to be an all-in-one software

    Pricing

    Contact Skedulo for per-user pricing Free Trial: No Free Plan: No

  7. Good for: Manufacturing enterprises

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    A screenshot of Shiftboard’s web-based shift scheduling software.

    Shiftboard provides enterprise-grade scheduling software geared toward businesses in the manufacturing and warehousing sectors. You can create schedules based on production line demands and match shifts with employees’ skillsets and availabilities. Workers get assigned to pre-designed schedules and shift rotation patterns, and can also bid for and swap shifts.

    Its tools are designed to maximize workforce capacity and optimize labor costs. For example, you can keep on top of overtime costs by using overtime equalization, which rotates shifts among employees based on overtime balance and hourly wage

    Another unique feature is job proficiency management, which helps ensure employees work on specific jobs within a timeframe and flags assignments where the proficiency threshold isn’t reached.

    Compliance is a strong feature on Shiftboard. You can set up the platform to adhere not only to federal and state labor laws, but also to your company’s collective bargaining requirements.

    Learn more about Shiftboard

    Key Features

    • Enterprise-level scheduling
    • Overtime equalization
    • Job proficiency management
    • Compliance

    Pros

    • Highly customizable
    • Strong compliance feature

    Cons

    • Not a very intuitive interface
    • Not aimed at small-to-medium businesses

    Pricing

    Contact Shiftboard for pricing Free Trial: No Free Plan: No

  8. Good for: Hospitality sector

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    Fourth’s Schedule software on a tablet and smartphone

    Fourth supports the hospitality sector not only with shift planning functionality, but also with recruitment and onboarding, inventory management, and payroll and pension services. Businesses that would benefit from Fourth’s features include restaurants, hotels, and resorts. 

    You can create a separate shift planner for each location and assign shifts to staff—including open ones. A hospitality-specific feature is the labor forecasting tool, which estimates demand variation according to the day of the week, time of the year, weather, and other factors. This helps you optimize shift hours so you’re not under- or over-staffed.

    Fourth provides relevant analytics aimed at optimizing labor costs and maximizing profitability, but statistics can make the interface feel a bit cluttered across features. Due to a less intuitive interface, there may be a big learning curve to using the product.

    Learn more about Fourth

    Key Features

    • Shift scheduling
    • Labor forecasting
    • Payroll
    • Inventory management

    Pros

    • Hospitality-oriented features
    • Advanced forecasting and analytics

    Cons

    • Unintuitive user interface
    • Too complex for small businesses

    Pricing

    Contact Fourth for pricing Free Trial: No Free Plan: No

  9. Good for: Call centers

    Available on

    • Web
    • iOS
    • Android
    A screenshot of injixo’s web based shift scheduling platform

    injixo is a time tracking solution specifically designed for call center staff. It’s also great at automating shift creation and optimizing staffing levels according to customer support demand. Key features include employees requesting, bidding for, and swapping shifts, absence management, and key performance indicator (KPI) reporting.

    You can create fixed, rotating, and fully flexible shifts, as well as shift patterns—for example, weekday morning and evening shifts may require more staff hours than afternoon ones. injixo supports remote teams with multiple time zones and locations.

    Its heatmap feature visually tells you which shifts are likely to be understaffed, overstaffed, or optimal, based on estimated contact volume. This allows you to make schedule changes and better manage your resources.

    Its analytics reports are customizable, but seem more focused on call center metrics, like average waiting time, than shift planning ones, such as total paid time off (PTO). Conveniently, injixo can be integrated with popular call center software including Freshdesk, Zendesk, talkdesk, and Intercom.

    Learn more about injixo

    Key Features

    • AI shift automation
    • Real-time management
    • Call center agent portal
    • Reporting and analysis

    Pros

    • Contact center-specific features
    • Demand-based shift heatmaps

    Cons

    • Limited shift-related reporting
    • Expensive

    Pricing

    Starts at $299/month for 15 users + $9/user/month Free Trial: No Free Plan: No

Compare the Best Shift Planning Softwares

Topic
Reviews
4.8
4.6
4.7
4.7
4.3
4.4
4.4
3.5
N/A
Pricing
Starts at just $29/month for the first 30 users
Starts at $3.50 per user
Starts at $10/month for three months ($20/month thereafter) + $8/user/month
Starts at $34.99/location/month (up to 30 employees)
Starts at $2.50/user/month
Contact Skedulo for per-user pricing
Contact Shiftboard for pricing
Contact Fourth for pricing
Starts at $299/month for 15 users + $9/user/month
Free Trial
yes
14 days
yes
yes
yes
yes
no
no
no
no
Free Plan
yes
Up to 10 users
yes
no
yes
yes
no
no
no
no

What Is Shift Planning Software?

Shift planning software helps streamline the shift scheduling process with optional tools for workforce management. Key features include visualizing your team’s schedule in a shift work calendar, using templates to automate shift rotations and patterns, assigning employees to shifts, and seeing team availability in real-time, including time off and overtime thresholds.

In some solutions, employee shifts are coupled with timesheets and time clock features, which can integrate with third-party payroll software for quicker wage payments. Additional features can include task management, instant messaging, performance monitoring, and location tracking. Analytics and reports give you an overview of hours worked and other relevant metrics.

How Does Shift Planning Software Work?

Schedules are usually categorized by location or department. You start by setting the working hours for your staff and dividing them into shifts. Then, you select or create a shift template, including start and end times, followed by the number of employees needed and their job titles (for example, a chef and a kitchen assistant per shift in a restaurant business). 

To complete the shift schedule, you can manually or automatically assign specific employees to shifts or make it an open shift that employees can bid for. Once assigned to a shift, employees have the option to cancel it or swap shifts with a colleague.  

In some software, employees can clock in and out at the beginning and end of a shift, track shift tasks and instructions in their app, update their general availability, and ask for time off. To review metrics such as total hours worked and overtime costs, check the reports and analytics section.

The Benefits of Shift Planning Software

Shift planning software can help your business reduce costs, manage shift workers more efficiently, and reassign HR resources toward more strategic activities.

Here are the top benefits of shift planning software.

  • Decreases cost: A centralized platform tracking assigned jobs, hours worked, and demand requirements can reduce under- and over-staffing, thus reducing labor costs.
  • Saves time: Using shift templates, automation, and one-click requests and approvals saves time, increasing your team’s focus on delivering projects.
  • Quickens employee shift scheduling: Without scheduling software, shifts would be organized using spreadsheets and text messages. A software solution quickens the process by automating schedules.
  • Manages complex schedules: The best shift planning app fulfills complex scheduling needs, such as 24-hour shifts, open shifts, and demand-driven staffing. 
  • Streamlines payroll: Many solutions include timesheet and time clock features, gathering data about hours worked that can be used in payroll.
  • Raises productivity: Your solution’s analytics help identify optimal staffing levels and top performers, facilitating decision-making that increases productivity.

How Much Does Shift Planning Software cost?

You can expect to pay a flat fee and an additional per-user fee for many shift planning solutions. The flat fee may be applicable for up to a certain number of users, after which you start paying the per-user fee. Some providers only charge a per-user fee. 

A typical per-user fee starts between $1.50-$3, although more expensive solutions start at $9-10. Connecteam is competitively priced at $29 for the first 30 users and $0.5/user/month thereafter, and offers a 100% free plan for small business with up to 10 users. 

If the shift planning software includes extra features such as a time clock, task tracking, and performance management, these may be priced as a separate bundle.

For some products, you need to contact sales or arrange a demo with the company to get a quote based on your business requirements, such as team size, number of locations, and type of shifts.

FAQs

How do you plan a shift schedule?

Create a shift template for each business scenario, such as days of the week or events. Include the number of hours, start and end time, and roles needed. View your staff’s availability, including time off and working hours, and assign shifts. Alternatively, employees can self-assign. Learn more about creating a work schedule.

Which software do I use for shift scheduling?

You should choose the shift planning software that best matches your business size, industry, and feature requirements. Consider whether you need specific shift types, a time clock, advanced analytics, or compliance capabilities. Connecteam is one of the best all-in-one shift scheduling softwares.

What are the main types of scheduling?

In fixed shifts, employees work the same hours every week—for example, 4 pm – 10 pm, Monday to Friday. No-schedule shifts, however, have no predictable pattern. Open shifts only specify the roles and hours needed, which employees can bid for. Learn more about shift types.

The Bottom Line On Shift Planning Software

Shift planning software saves you time and money compared to alternative manual processes like using spreadsheets and text messages. You can use templates and automate shift schedules according to week day, type of job, and other factors.

Great solutions allow your staff to bid for and swap shifts, and request time off. Shift analytics are also important, enabling better decision-making. 

When picking the best shift planning software for you, choose Connecteam, the #1 all-in-one employee management app that helps raise workforce productivity across multiple industries.