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Deputy - Review 2020 - PCMag India


Deputy (which begins at $2.50 per user per month) wins its Editors’ Choice award in the employee scheduling and shift planning category. Here, its strengths include its great user interface (UI), solid mobile support, long list of integrations, wide range of customization options, and 24/7 support. These benefits topped our reviews in this category along with fellow competitors, Humanity and Paycor Scheduling.

Deputy also adds enough general human resource (HR) features to make it a viable competitor in that space, too. Once we tested it against the likes of HR Editors’ Choice winners, BambooHR or Zenefits, however, we found its range of features in this category simply weren’t as broad as the leaders in that space. But if you’re a small business that needs both a staff scheduler and a general HR tool, Deputy is well worth a very close look as it may solve both problems for you with a single price tag.

Pricing

That price tag, unfortunately, has increased since we last reviewed it, but the service has also beefed up its third-party integrations and added new features to its web and mobile apps. Deputy’s lowest price is $2.50 per user per month. This includes shift scheduling and auto-scheduling, and also adds meal and rest/break planning, point-of-sale (POS) integration, personal time off (PTO) and leave management, news feed, tasking, and unlimited 24/7 support.

Deputy is also available for $4.50 per user per month for the Premium scheduling and timesheets subscription. This level adds Reporting and auto-scheduling among other features. Finally, Deputy offers an enterprise-level version of the software for companies with 100 or more workers; this version begins at $8 per user per month, though you should contact Deputy for a precise quite at this tier.

Regardless of what they pay, customers get 24/7 support, lots of help prompts, how-to videos on all major functions, and a User Help Forum. There is no option for an annual plan.

Dashboard and Setup

Once signed into Deputy’s dashboard, you’re met with an uncluttered and attractively laid out page. Navigation is managed by a blue horizontal ribbon at the top of the page. It has the following sections: Locations, Me, News Feed, People, Reports, Schedule, Tasks, and Timesheets. Deputy’s layout is surprisingly uncluttered and clean. Fastidious managers and users will value how well everything is compartmentalized and arranged, which makes the system easy to learn and remember.

The Me section is where employees can see an overview of their calendars and start shifts and breaks, and where they can request time off. The News Feed section is a community forum in which important company and personal notes can be added. This is a useful tool for leaving messages for co-workers and managers on different shifts or at different locations. The Tasks section is a basic task scheduler with personal and assigned tasks and indicators for incomplete or completed tasks.

The Locations section is where you add your various locations. This section gives a snapshot of various schedules broken down by location and information on pending open shifts as well as upcoming schedules. The People section reveals a searchable and scrollable, alphabetical listing of employees. Clicking an employee’s name brings up all relevant contact, work, and shift information. There are also buttons for starting shifts, finding replacements (for dropped shifts), and access to Shifts, Timesheets, Unavailability, Leave, Journals, and News Feed.

Help options may not be as abundant or obvious as those in our other Editors’ Choice selection Humanity, but they are easily accessible. There’s a Help drop-down menu that brings up links to the Help Portal as well as Hide Help Chat, Disable Support Access, Book Time With an Expert, Feature Suggestions, and Hide Getting Started sections. Similar to Humanity is an ever-present chat widget at the bottom right of the page. Clickin this widget invokes the “Depubot,” which is a chatbot that routes your query to the best possible person or department to handle the query or issue. Unlike in Humanity, Deputy does not have a self-serve Search function.

Deputy Page with Support

Simplicity in Scheduling

Company owners, managers, and system administrators log into the same home screen as employees but have access to more functions. For example, a restaurant manager can use the News Feed or Tasks sections to leave one or more employees instructions for that day’s shift (e.g., “Come to an all-hands meeting today at 5 p.m. in the break room”). Managers will appreciate this integrated approach and the various ways with which they can interact and communicate with their staff.

As with most other employee scheduling and shift planning software, Deputy’s core functions consist of an employee database, list of locations, scheduling module, and reports—all of which are displayed on a main navigation bar that runs across the top of the screen regardless of what you’re doing in the program. Companies with a handful of locations and employees can easily create a new account and manually enter all of the information they need. Larger businesses can use People > Add People > Import or Upload to upload existing personnel data from payroll providers and POS software, including GustoIntuit QuickBooks Online Plus, and Oracle NetSuite OneWorld.

To create locations, use Locations > Add Location, and then follow the prompts that ask for a name and street address (which automatically generates a Google Maps view that will show up on shifts). Additional prompts ask you to assign types of jobs (e.g., cashier, server, driver, and supervisor) and employees to a location.

Deputy Shift Replacement Page

With employee and location information in the system, you can start creating schedules. Deputy offers a variety of shortcuts that makes what can be a fairly daunting process a little less painful, including the ability to upload schedules from Microsoft Excel or, once you’ve created shifts, using Schedule > Copy Shifts to copy or import shifts from a previous time period. The default Weekly view displays a calendar-style grid of days of the week and positions to be filled each day, with a listing of all employees authorized to work at that location running down the far left-hand side column. Clicking the “plus” sign in any cell opens up a pop-up window to let you add a new shift, with boxes for searching for an employee; setting start, finish and break times; designating a manager, and adding notes. Recently, Deputy added a Monthly Calendar view, a feature that’s standard on competitors such as When I Work and ZoomShift, plus additional ways to sort employees in the scheduling grid.

You can also create new shifts by dragging and dropping an employee from the employee list into an empty shift cell. If you try to schedule someone who is not available, already working, or not authorized for a specific position, then a warning will show up on their employee profile and on the schedule. Some businesses want employees to choose their own shifts. To create an open shift, use the Add a New Shift > Shift Actions > Send Offers to notify some or all of the employees qualified to work that position that an open shift is waiting to be claimed. Once a schedule is set, use the yellow Publish button in the top right-hand corner of the screen to finalize and distribute it to the appropriate staff via email, text message, push notification, or printout.

The software’s Schedule view can be set up to display metrics across the top so that schedulers can see how different options for filling the day’s or week’s shifts would affect labor costs and measure them against expected sales for the time period. This makes it easy to determine the most profitable staffing option (e.g., “If I put Pete, Laura, and Sam on the 6 p.m.-to-midnight shift, my wage costs will be 50 percent of sales. But if I put Jonah, Laura, and Sam on during the same time, then wage costs will be 40 percent of sales. So I better to go with Plan B”).

One unique feature of Deputy’s Schedule function is a “stress profile,” which a manager can use to set how many hours an employee can work per shift, day, or week, or to regulate hours between shifts. This kind of feature can help restaurants, retailers, and other small businesses that have a lot of shift workers limit how much they’re paying in overtime or make sure workers aren’t scheduled to close one night and open the next.

Deputy Employee Self-Service Test

Employee Self-Service

On the employee side, checking in for work is simple. Workers enter a PIN to log into their personal account, and then click a green, red, or yellow button that’s visible at the top right-hand corner of the home screen to clock in or out of a shift or break. Whether they clock in from their own phone or from a shared device such as an iPad, the software can be set up to signal the device’s camera to take and store their picture. This is a handy feature for dissuading employees from punching in for a late co-worker or working an unauthorized shift.

Employees can use their accounts to check schedules, request shifts or scheduled time off, see tasks that managers have assigned to them, or read messages on the News Feed. In addition to claiming open shifts, they can also swap shifts with other employees (pending manager approval). If an employee is logging in from a mobile device, then they can view Deputy’s main navigation bar that runs down the left-hand side of the screen; it includes neatly labeled icons for Calendar, News Feed, and Tasks. Scheduling is represented by a big blue “plus” sign that workers can click to request a shift or a shift change. If you log in through the web version of the software, then the same main navigation bar and icons run across the top of the page.

Helping employees gain access from anywhere is Deputy’s mobile-readiness strength. The service is built to be used on Android or Apple iOS mobile devices, including the Apple Watch. Company officials say that 80 percent of their customers’ employees access it via their smartphones or tablets. It’s also available as a web-based app. The mobile app lets you create and update employee schedules; share schedules via email, SMS, or push notifications; and offer or replace open shifts or let employees swap shifts base on their availability. You can also communicate, monitor, and assign tasks to individual employees or to a company’s entire employee base, and create and approve timesheets in real time. You can also instantly export finalized timesheets into your company’s existing payroll software, according to the company.

We found the ability to customize the Deputy dashboard with your company’s logo a very nice touch. Customers who opt for this can upload their organization’s logo and choose from a color theme that’s consistent with their own branding collateral to give employees a consistent experience across internal tools. You can even customize your business name into your Deputy URL.

Deputy does have a noticeable downside, though. The iPad employee check-in kiosk is available in Spanish and seven other languages, which is helpful for companies with large populations of non-native English language speakers. However, the downside is the website and mobile apps are not available in all of these languages.

Deputy Leave Page Screenshot

HR Management “Lite”

Shift scheduling is Deputy’s strong suit, but the service also includes stripped-down versions of other core HR features suitable for businesses with 50 up to several thousand employees. Some of these features include onboarding, timesheets, and a News Feed that can replace email communications. Customers can use the software’s open application programming interface (API) to integrate with close to 300 providers that provide time and attendance, payroll, and other HR services. These providers are located in and outside the United States (provided you’re willing to invest in some custom development).

Deputy provides a performance management (PM) capability of sorts but probably not in the way most people expect. In place of a standard PM function, Deputy has a Journal feature. To see this feature, you would just need to go to People > Name of the Employee > Write Journal. Supervisors or managers can use it to publicly or privately recognize employees or teams for their accomplishments or to maintain a written record of problems. When it’s time to do reviews or to back up disciplinary action, managers can use the Reports > Journal Usage feature to read positive and negative comments that any employee has accumulated. The Reports module automatically produces reports that managers can see on employee statistics and locations, schedules versus sales, and time-off schedules. While this approach may throw people off who are used to traditional PM, it can actually be an effective method, not just for annual or semi-annual employee evaluation but for day-to-day work management as well.

Integrations

Deputy has done a lot of work to integrate easily with leading payroll, POS, and HR systems. It boasts over 52 off-the-shelf integrations with all kinds of well-known HR and payroll software solutions. These will benefit mutual customers not only through data synching, but also ensuring that workflows and processes aren’t duplicated between applications. The feature also includes real-time payroll integration between partner services.

While its HR capabilities are really only suited to smaller businesses with basic needs, its shift scheduling and planning capabilities put Deputy at the very top of that pack. An excellent mobile strategy, generous customer support, friendly UI, and its long list of ready-made integrations make this a well-earned Editors’ Choice.

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