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Friday, April 13, 2012

What's Holding You Back From Employee Scheduling in the Cloud?

I've written a couple of posts on the great pairing of employee scheduling and cloud computing. The first was an entry called "But Why ONLINE Employee Scheduling?" where I discuss why the dynamic nature of cloud computing makes sense for employee scheduling. The second was an entry called, "Is My Company Too Small For Online Scheduling?" where I talk about time savings and other benefits of online scheduling.

Let's call this the third installment in an online employee scheduling series: What's holding you back from scheduling your employees in the cloud?

The Switch to Digital

If you're like me, it took a while to change your thinking from buying physical products to digital products (e.g. I still have over 1,000 CDs and nearly 500 DVDs in my media library). The iTunes Music Store launched in 2003 and while I purchased a few songs or albums here and there, I still insisted on buying and importing CDs instead. Ten years later, I'm now downloading music digitally. Same with movies, with books for my Kindle and with apps for my computer.

While it may be easier for some, I believe there's an emotional step in switching and perhaps preferring digital products over packaged products. 

Prior to Aladtec, I worked for a manufacturer of professional audio products whose flagship software shipped with a 1,000 page plus paper manual. It accounted for, well, 98% of the shipping weight! The belief was that customers prefer something in hand - and something with weight. I knew, at the time, I was one of those people. These days though, I can't imagine buying packaged software over a digital download option. 



Digital downloads:
  • are far more convenient,
  • contain digital documentation which is great for searching for keywords and
  • saves you space - no need to put the heavy manual and packaging on a bookshelf!
With how connected our computers and devices are, purchasing books, music, movies and software over WiFi, 3G or even 4G has really made life easier.

The Convenience of Cloud Apps

After just touting how great downloading product is, let's talk about how apps in the cloud are even greater. I'm willing to bet that a vast majority of you rely on a web app for things like emailing, photo organizing and banking. If you log in to Yahoo! or Gmail for emails, Flickr for photos and mint.com for personal finances, you've been reliant on cloud applications. And this is a good thing! 

The obvious convenience to free apps like these is that: 
  • you don't have to worry about backing up data,
  • you have access on any device with an Internet connection and 
  • you have a reliable place for your information with a consistent experience.
In addition to Gmail, Google offers an incredible suite of apps for productivity including Docs, Calendar, Talk and Voice. Apps like these now give you a place to write documents, create spreadsheets, maintain a basic calendar and chat. Productivity cloud apps like these offer an alternative to a technology staple like Microsoft Office, which, by the way, is available as a download.

The surge in cloud technology has yielded plenty of great services and apps that enhance our lives. After the switch from packaged software to digital format apps, where possible, moving to cloud apps is a natural progression.  

The Advantage of Subscription Services

Now let's take all of this one step further with subscriptions. With the popularity of streaming media services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Spotify, etc., more and more people are not only turning to digital products, they're subscribing to hosted services - all in the cloud.


Streaming media services aside, think of all the software you use that requires an update or an upgrade on a regular basis. Whether you use installed software for accounting, database, or in our case, workforce management and employee scheduling, if there is a subscription option in the cloud, here's why I think it makes sense to switch.


  • Your data isn't tied to a local network or computer; you'll have access anywhere you have an Internet connection.
  • NO software to install. Using a subscription cloud service typically means that any system upgrades are included and happen on the server end. What this means is that you only need to focus on your work and not about installing and maintaining software.
  • Saved preferences. One thing I enjoy about using cloud services is that not only do I have access to my information anywhere, the experience is the same every time because of my unique login. You don't have to worry about your computer acting weird and needing to "use Sally's computer to run reports" or "accessing the database on Bob's computer" and not being used to how they've set up their apps.
  • Backing up your data is no longer on you. Subscription services like ours include daily backups so you don't have to worry about archiving your own data.
  • Subscription services typically include some degree of support. For instance, all Aladtec subscriptions include unlimited phone and email support. 

Conclusion

So that's my two cents. You've embraced digital media and downloaded apps. You're using cloud apps wherever possible for things like email, calendar and even documents. Maybe now is the time to embrace subscription software services to take your productivity to the next level. 

Whatever software you've been using to manage your workforce data and schedule employees, you owe it to yourself and your place of business to explore what cloud options you have. To check out EMS Manager, FIRE Manager or Zanager, give us a call at (888) 749-5550 or sign up for a free demo at your convenience. We'd love to show you how a subscription to one of our products may be the biggest technology step forward for your business. 

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