When I sat down to start coding Schedulefly, the memories of creating a schedule for 40 wait staff guided me to a simple solution – a solution for a problem that I remembered so well. The problem for our team back then, ironically, was not so much a scheduling problem as it was a communication problem. The reason the schedule took so long to create and then maintain through out the week was 100% because we had no easy way to communicate about it. Phone calls, paper requests, voice mails, messages left at the host stand on sticky notes and verbal requests exchanged over beers the night before the schedule was to be made were the ways we communicated. Looking back it was gigantic mess and a pain to organize and manage, but back then it was just the way it was. Had we had an easy and centralized way to submit, collect and review information related to the schedule and it’s changes – life would have been easier for our scheduling managers and the people trying to tell them things.
So the reason I am reminiscing, is because I realized that our solution is still more about communication and less about scheduling. It’s why I never planned (or plan) on creating some magical automatic scheduling function that spits out a schedule based on availability, seniority, sales numbers etc. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine something like that being anywhere near useful unless you were scheduling machines – or robots. As I’ve said in the past, (in my experience) people are really difficult to schedule and creating a winning team of the right crew night after night often has more to do with the people and their personalities and less to do with their skill level. Personal issues that happen last minute – even unexpected weather – can wreak havoc on a schedule. So I guess my point is – while I needed to know all that basic availability stuff in order to create a schedule – what I really needed was a better way for people to communicate with me leading up to creating it and after it was “done”. And of course – the real work started after the schedule was posted (like within minutes) – and that’s when a lack of good communication about the changes occurring made it tough for everyone to manage.
Having said all that, it’s really cool to see our customers tell us how Schedulefly has helped their team. Almost every comment is centered around better communication, a more cohesive and accountable team and the ease in which everyone can find out what’s going on with each other and the restaurant. You see, in the end, they still end up with the same schedule as they did before they started using Schedulefly – I think it’s just easier to make decisions now and manage all the stuff that affects it before and after it’s “done”. In fact, I don’t recall it ever really being done – it just keep changing until it was time to do it again.