After switching to EMS Manager for online employee scheduling, we eliminated overtime costs – within the first year we experienced a 1300% return on our investment.
By Sergeant Andrew D. Blackwood, Schedule Supervisor, Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services, Centreville, Maryland
OUR AGENCY: Queen Anne’s County Department of Emergency Services, Centreville, Maryland
Our agency is located in beautiful Queen Anne’s County, Maryland along the scenic Chesapeake Bay, covering about 375 square miles. In order to properly serve our population of 48,000 residents, we schedule nearly 100 members every month to staff our dispatch center and six EMS units – including: emergency planners; fire marshals; and administrative staff. Our coverage area includes many major highways which connect six interstate routes and over 400 miles of coastline. With this size population, interstate highways, and the coastline, our agency handles all hazard emergency responses from 911 calls to emergency transport, often including water rescue.
OUR SITUATION IN 2009: Frustrating
As you know, when using spreadsheets and other “off-line” methods of scheduling, filling shifts is a painstaking process involving dozens of phone calls, emails and text messages. And, just when you think it’s finalized, something always changes and you need to drop everything to “fix” the schedule. At our agency, the confusion created by multiple versions of paper schedules, in various stages of corrections, became completely unacceptable. We didn’t know how to get out of the slump of tradition. The Chief refused to commit any more full days to organizing, auditing and submitting payroll each pay period, so finally he said, “Bring me an electronic solution and it better be good, quick and affordable.”
THE SEARCH: Interesting
Finding a system that fit us well and offered opportunities to expand and grow with our dynamic service was essential. As I began my research, I was pleased to find over a dozen products for online scheduling. We didn’t want to purchase or maintain our own server, so scratch the first four systems. We wouldn’t consider a program over 10 grand, so scratch SEVERAL more from the list. Of the five remaining, prices ranged from about $2,000 to $6,000 to start up and run for just the first year. We compared standard features and quickly bumped the least and most expensive systems. Each of three final contenders advertised a free trial so I spent a week learning the three systems intimately. As true with most things in life, the least expensive was the least impressive. The most expensive choice remaining had a palatable annual cost, but I wasn’t interested in paying the set-up fees. That left a clear winner.
SOLUTION: EMS Manager – Online Employee Scheduling & Workforce Management System
Once we determined who we wanted to work with we couldn’t wait to roll it out. Surprisingly, the transition to online scheduling with EMS Manager took us less than 2 weeks. We discovered an immediate decrease in costs because we were able to manage our personnel so much better. A group was assembled to examine our savings and they realized we had immediately reduced unplanned overtime by 70%! Several months into our subscription, we integrated a custom time sheet report and instantly reclaimed another 40 man hours every two weeks.
OUR SITUATION TODAY: Great!
In a nut shell, our schedule is always complete and accurate and we have eliminated unplanned OT! Within the first year of using EMS Manager we experienced a 1300% return on our investment. Four years later – EMS Manager has saved us at least 5,000 hours which otherwise would have been spent on scheduling. This system is the most valuable tool our agency has to improve efficiency and save money – every month. In addition, EMS Manager flawlessly produces payroll for nearly 100 employees including leave accruals, holiday and shift differentials. There are even unique budget codes for training, PR events, light duty assignments and regular shift time. We’ve improved communication with members because of the way the system lets us disseminate information and we can now alert staff about important updates with ease and speed, virtually immediately. Also, the mobile web app is great – the power of EMS Manager is available anytime and anywhere. The majority of our staff uses the mobile interface exclusively. They take EMS Manager with them wherever they go, accessing it from their smartphone, iPod or tablet.
BENEFITS TO OUR AGENCY: Here’s the short list…
- No more unexpected overtime and no more scheduling errors
- All supervisors have access to the same up-to-date schedule and data instantaneously
- Custom payroll reporting and certification tracking
- Members make leave requests, sign-off on time sheets, submit availability and make shift swaps within the system
- Improved communication methods via forums, emails, text messaging and through our own digital library -Supervisors have instant access to essential employee data – phone numbers, emergency contact information, and license information
- We can evaluate any event by date, administrator or an affected member using the system log -Numerous dynamic reports – customized and created from any data found within the system
- Mobility – mobility – mobility!
SUMMARY: Highly Recommended
As we now start our fifth year with EMS Manager, there are absolutely no regrets. Our annual subscription fee has never increased – just as promised. We continue to enjoy a level of service that rivals a small-town hardware store: friendly; competent; quick; and responsive. With the customization available within EMS Manager, it’s as if we have our own stand-alone system. In the “SaaS” (Software as a Service) industry, and particularly in the area of online employee scheduling and workforce management, the choices are plentiful so (believe me I know) it’s tough to find the time to evaluate them. In this case, I guess you could say I did all the leg work for other agencies that are frustrated with their current scheduling system. So, go ahead, you can take my word for it – there’s no better online employee scheduling system than EMS Manager from Aladtec!