Finding shift cover just got a lot easier - introducing our Shift Fulfilment Engine
Updated: Mar 18
The future of shift fulfilment has arrived
Apps have made booking stuff - whether it’s a meeting, curry, or a cab - easier than ever before. Which makes it a crime that so many managers in frontline industries such as healthcare and retail are still spending large portions of their days calling, texting and emailing to fill gaps in their rotas.
After hearing customer after customer identify this pain, we knew there had to be a better way. So we’ve been extremely busy behind the scenes creating a unique feature to do just that.
The result is our Shift Fulfilment Engine (SFE). We always want to build the most user-friendly solutions out there, making it easy for shifts to be posted and picked up in seconds, saving huge amounts of both time and money.
After an incredibly successful soft launch, we’re coming out of stealth mode to tell you all about the future of shift fulfilment with Sona's Shift Fulfilment Engine.
Finding cover isn’t just inconvenient, it’s costly
“I love that shifts are sent out to other stores straightaway which saves so much time on calling round.” - Retail store manager
Regardless of industry, operating sites smoothly means having the right staff with the right skills and experience in place at the right times. Any gap in a shift pattern is a huge headache for the manager.
Why else would they then end up spending valuable minutes, sometimes hours, contacting team members to find out their availability?
Practically this is suboptimal for everyone involved. Managers have to divert attention away from other operationally vital tasks. Employees are either interrupted when they’re not working and not available or end up missing out on opportunities to work extra hours they would have taken.
The financial consequences can be wide-ranging:
Overspending on payroll due to ‘under-contracting’ (contracted staff not working their full monthly allocation) and excessive overtime
Greater reliance on agency staff to plug gaps leads to higher fees (in nursing homes, reducing agency usage can cut staff costs by up to 30%)
Shift scheduling issues are a common cause of frustration for staff, resulting in higher churn. Replacing an employee typically costs a minimum of 16% of their annual salary
In regulated industries, there can be penalties attached to failure to meet agreed staffing levels
This means every shift you fill internally has a positive impact on the PnL.
A problem scheduling can’t solve (on its own)
“Everyone has a plan before they get punched in the mouth.” - Mike Tyson
Like many people we speak to, you may have already wondered why this problem hasn’t been addressed by traditional workforce management solutions.
While we wouldn’t claim to be the only solution out there (just the best!), there are two main issues with the legacy platforms:
They have been designed for the need to create and fill a schedule on assumed availability, not manage the schedule according to actual availability
Like Tyson’s boxing analogy, even the most optimised and well-planned schedule can’t completely survive contact with the real world. There a lot of staffing challenges that can mean changes are needed at short notice - sickness and other unplanned leave, travel disruption, unexpected fluctuations in demand/capacity
We love WFM software - we couldn’t exist without it - but filling the inevitable gaps in shift cover is a different type of problem that now has a different type of solution.
How does SFE work?
You give your workforce access to the Sona app.
Use the admin portal to select the types of roles you need to fill and the days and times of those shifts
Once submitted, these shifts are automatically sent out to all eligible employees, with an accompanying notification
Employees can browse open shifts and instantly claim any they can work
The portal updates in real time so managers can see who has picked up shifts (you can also set up automatic email notifications)
Message staff, cancel, reschedule, and add or update important information related to shifts without leaving the platform
No need to change your existing HR, payroll and rostering tools
Sona is designed to plug in right alongside your existing systems. Integrating with your rostering platform ensures that shifts offered to staff don’t clash with their existing schedules.
How is Sona different?
“Sona has allowed me to pick up shifts in other departments that I'd never had the opportunity to work in before." - Team member for a national retailer
As we’ve already described, SFE comes into its own once the schedule is set and there are identified needs for staff who aren’t already working to cover open shifts. Staffing agencies are external marketplaces to fill extra demand. So think of SFE as a way to create an internal marketplace - instantly making shifts available to the talent pool you already have.
One of the unique benefits is that this enables more staff to work shifts they probably couldn’t access before - in other departments or locations where they may never have contact with the relevant managers. We love it when our customers tell us about new cross-working patterns they have discovered that hadn’t been possible previously..
The other thing that sets us apart is our user-centric design. We built SFE for the modern way of working, using modern, cloud-based infrastructure and agile development.
This means the platform is intuitive and easy to use whatever your role and can be deployed quickly (we can get you live in a week). Plus, we add new features in weeks and months, not years.
Our customers are realising significant in-year ROI
“Our scheduling system is great for what it does, but when it comes to unfilled and overtime shifts, we didn't have a streamlined way of offering these to our colleagues. That's where the innovative shift fulfilment platform comes in.” - Manager, national retailer
We believe you shouldn’t need to wait 12+ months to start seeing a return on your investment in us:
Reduce agency fees by up to 20%
Cut admin time by 5 hours per resourcing manager per week
Ensure rota compliance and save on payroll costs
Increase employee engagement and retention