Usability equals use: why the restaurant scheduling software you choose needs simplicity

4/5/16 7:00 AM Natalie Appleton


If we asked a handful of restaurant managers and owners what’s important to them when choosing scheduling software, they’d probably mention cost, they may ask about integration with their point-of-sale system, and they might even inquire about features—labor forecasting or time tracking.

And somewhere down the list would be, It has to be easy to use.

And yet, in the long run, ease of use might be the most important factor of all.

Let’s set up a scenario. You and your management team realized a while back that you had to do something: It was taking hours to do the schedule every week, time-off requests written on napkins were getting lost, you didn’t have the insight you wanted (at least not at your fingertips) to forecast labor costs.

So, you spend thousands in time and dollars courting software vendors. You narrowed it down. You found one. You had it installed. And then it began: No one wanted to use the damn thing because they couldn’t figure out how to use it. They couldn’t even log in or easily change their own security password, nevermind being able to review if they were on budget to hit labor targets. You began to dread calls that began with, It won’t let me….

And you can imagine all the hidden costs of bad software you finally had to give up on.

Hopefully, that wasn’t the case for your organization. Hopefully you’re at the beginning of this journey looking for software that’s going to help your managers create the perfect schedule in minutes.

Now, to create a scenario with a completely different outcome—filled with happy people as well as improved productivity and profits—here’s why ease of use should be a priority when choosing restaurant scheduling software.

Easy to use software = adoption

Programmers call it ‘the user experience’ or ‘usability’ of a program. How easy is it for users to make the most out of it? Will they (gasp) like it because it’s somehow very simple and very smart?

In a Diginomica article titled Does the enterprise really need a consumer grade UI?, Jon Reed turns to the experts to answer his ‘burning’ questions about UX (user experience) in the corporate software landscape. One of his interviewees, Randy Wang of Constellation Research, “has been pushing UX before it was particularly fashionable to do so.” For Wang, enterprise UX is “crucial.”

To put it simply, Wang told Reed: “…It drives adoption, enables productivity and helps reinforce brand experience. It’s very important.”  

Easy to use software = happy millenials (and older folks too)


One of the reasons why your restaurant scheduling software has to be easy to use, now more than ever, is because all the other applications your team uses outside the restaurant is easy to use.

Adam Hartung, in a article titled Employees Refusing to Use Clunky Enterprise Software says today’s workers are too tech-savvy for bad software. Citing the results of a study by IFS, a Swedish enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor that polled 281 managers in manufacturing companies, Hartung says, “…there’s a disconnect between the way software behaves in employees’ personal lives and the way it behaves in corporate America.”

The IFS study said: “Those who use Facebook, Amazon, Orbitz or other online functionality that is entirely intuitive may have a hard time understanding why it is so much more challenging to use the enterprise software functionality necessary to issue a work order or access key performance data.”

So, when your manager has 20 minutes before Friday lunch pre-shift to make some changes to next week’s schedule and the software won’t let her extend the hours of the bartender in the lounge tomorrow night or send out a notification about the free staff lunch on Monday, he or she inherently thinks, Why can’t this be as easy as Facebook?

Software that’s difficult to use won’t get used

In that same article about “clunky enterprise software,” Hartung says across corporate North America, employees are leaving behind company-issued BlackBerrys and laptops.

“They prefer to use their personal devices—sleek, mobile and intuitive—rather than the company-sanctioned technologies perceived as outdated and hard to use.”

Hartung says IFS, in a presentation about their study, spoke of managers, particularly younger managers, simply bypassing enterprise systems in favour of Excel spreadsheets or even free cloud-based apps.

“Seventy-five percent of managers of all ages admitted to using an open-source tool or spreadsheet—or simply refusing to use the system—if the interface is hard to use.”

So here you’ve spent an incredible amount of money on software your managers just won’t use, and that will cost you too.

Software that’s difficult to use costs money

US research group Forrester conducted a study in which they tested enterprise software usability by performing standard tasks such as changing security profiles that turned out to require “inordinate patience and expertise.” In its article about that study, Enterprise apps are too difficult to use and cost businesses millions, says, “the costs to businesses can be substantial.”  

“Companies often end up investing tens of thousands of dollars in additional training they hadn't budgeted for. In the worst case, workers simply abandon the software altogether in favor of manual processes, negating the benefits of projects in which businesses typically invest millions.”

The hidden costs of software that’s too hard to use:

  • Employees spend more time on manual tasks, or spend too much time frustrated and/or make errors using the unlikable software with a very long onboarding process when you really want them out on the floor, making sure the kitchen is ticking and guests are happy.
  • Employees won’t use it (and you don’t see an ROI).
  • Employee satisfaction decreases.
  • Retention rates decline.

In its article The Hidden Cost of Bad UX, Momentum Design Lab warns companies about the impact on productivity and talent you don’t want to lose.


Here’s the thing, and David Kellogg captures it perfectly: “…Employees have become customers.” Correlsense’s Ron Miller was reporting on what Kellogg and others said in a 2012 panel about enterprise software.

Paraphrasing Kellogg, CIO and publisher of Foreign of Affairs at think tank Council of Foreign Relations, Miller says company owners need to shift how they think about ease of use for their employees.  “In the old days employees simply did what they were told and had no choice about tools, while customers were what you needed to respond to because they paid you.”  

Today, Kellogg says: Employees have choices. We want our staff to do everything everywhere all the time and they want to be able to do that.”  

“We can’t do that by forcing employees to use “draconian systems,’” Miller adds.

Which leads us to our next point: If your team’s software is truly easy to use, it needs to be easy to use anywhere.

Easy to use software is mobile-friendly software


Given the online-all-the-time nature of today’s workforce, mobile-friendly software is a must.

In his key takeaways about a Forrester report on mobile workforce adoption trends, Ted Schadler says there’s good reason to consider cloud and/or mobile-friendly software.  

Twenty-nine per cent of the global workforce is defined as “anytime, anywhere information workers”—“those who use three or more devices, work from multiple locations, and use many apps.” The report predicted 905 million tablets in use for work and home globally by 2017.

Going back to the first article we mentioned that discusses why employees refuse to use “clunky” software, Hartung says today’s workforce expects “mobile access to corporate data via intuitive interfaces.”

“…They expect to get the corporate information they want by using their iOS or Android devices to gain remote access to corporate systems.”

Paul Randle knows firsthand the difference it makes it have instant access to a restaurant’s data from anywhere. He’s the VP of Operations for Canada and President of US Operations for Eatz Enterprises, the parent company of the Moxie’s franchise he oversees. He recently moved from Winnipeg to Dallas to help expand Moxie’s operations in the US.

Thanks to the franchise’s subscription to our cloud-based restaurant scheduling software, even across borders, it’s easy for Randle to see what’s happening at every restaurant.

“Before 8 a.m., I can see yesterday’s labor costs and sales. Ten years ago, even five years ago, that would have been really difficult,” he says, adding Ameego’s mobile-friendly notification features make it easy to communicate constantly and instantly with team members.

“Managers can send texts and emails to the entire team in a second to give people reminders about staff meetings.”

What would things be like for your restaurant if you had software that was easy to use, and easy to use anywhere?

In addition to usability, what else do you need to consider when you’re looking for restaurant scheduling software?  To help you evaluate your options, download your free copy of our buyer's guide here:


Topics: Restaurant Scheduling, Manager Time Savings