At a meeting this last week, a coworker expressed frustration over how labor intensive it is to schedule student employees. You have to ask them to give you a printout of their class schedule, and then manually wade through them all to figure out who can fill what shifts. Then create a “pretty” Excel document that shows the schedule for everyone.
So, during that meeting while everyone was talking about something else, I started looking around for a good solution to this issue. The first thing I came across was Employee Scheduler. Which after setting up and testing, seems pretty cool. Biggest things would be:
- LDAP access (though, doesn’t handle multiple LDAP uid’s correctly)
- Allows students to set preferences (say, they CAN work at 8am, but it’s not preferred).
- Self Hosted (php/mysql (AMP))
- Designed for scheduling student employees
- Code hasn’t been touched since 2004
- No Timeclock functionality
The second one I came across, that I didn’t bother installing, was Employee Scheduling System (ESS). I attempted to install this, but got errors on the .sql import that I didn’t really want to pursue due to, like the above: the code hasn’t been touched since 2005.
With the two free, self hosted packages I could find pseudo eliminated (though, empschedule actually does work fairly well), I started looking at non-selfhosted products. Several of these came up, but one (shiftplanning.com) seemed the most appealing since it offered free service for Non-Profits (which, the University is). After contacting the site and asking about this, we were given non-profit status shortly there after. So far, it seems like it should work for us, but we’re not sure on that one. Doing the actual scheduling seems to be far from intuitive. It has a lot of bells and whistles, but it does not seem like it’s as easy to use as Employee Scheduler (which was made for scheduling student employees specifically). So for all we know, we could end up switching back to Employee Scheduler.
- Hosted by someone else
- APIs available, and data exportable
- Not Selfhosted
- Seemingly less adept at scheduling massively split shifts (e.g. student work schedules)
- Cannot modify to suit needs
I’m guessing this is going to be an ongoing discussion, as we’ll have to figure out what works the best.