Deputy is an all-in-one cloud-based platform for scheduling and tracking employees – along with their time, tasks, and communication – and it is specially designed for companies that schedule and manage hourly employees.
Many accountants who consult with their clients on more than simple bookkeeping know that the back-office operation of their clients’ businesses often gets put on the back burner. In other words, more time and attention is paid to sales and service than to rudimentary tasks that can, and should be, automated. That’s as it should be, since the alternative is that functions as simple as automating scheduling and time tracking have to be done manually – and no one wants that.
Deputy delivers 100% automation of these tasks through the Deputy Kiosk on the desktop or iPad, enabling managers to make schedules and shift changes on the go. Other features of Deputy include creating and maintaining rosters, payroll integration, tasking and journaling, and even a new Deputy app for the new Apple Watch. Deputy reports that the majority of its customers are brick & mortar companies working in, among other industries, healthcare, retail, and hospitality. Deputy reports that companies with warehouse and multiple office locations also benefit from the always-on technology.
Few programs provide all of the functions businesses need, so when you are evaluating a product, you need to look at what kinds of accounting systems – and other management products – this program works with. Doug Sleeter refers to this as connecting the pieces in the “chunkified” world of business processes. While Deputy sets up announcements and assignments, and produces performance results, anytime, anywhere, accountants will also appreciate the fact that it integrates with a wide range of products. Examples of such integration are payroll, with ZenPayroll, Xero, QuickBooks Online, MYOB, and NetSuite; point of sale, with Vend and Revel; and project billing, with Xero. And, according to Deputy, more integrations are in development.
Deputy pricing is available on three levels – Free, Monthly, and Flexible Weekly – and no contracts are required. After reviewing the three levels, most firms will most likely want to consider the Monthly option with unlimited employees and locations available.
After starting the 30-day trial, I received an email to set up the program. Deputy is available for iPhone and Android, but you can also work through any web browser from the Deputy Kiosk. Even though you can upgrade at any time during the trial to get better pricing, you have full access to the basics during the trial (up to 10 staff, ability to make announcements, and ability to assign tasks). There are no catches or contracts, updates are free, and it is secure and reliable.
I thought the setup process was simple and logical. It involves a simple four-step process: General, Areas of Work, People, and Finished.
General is simply asking for the name of your business or company, and its location. As you can see in Figure 1, Deputy provides a video tutorial – an option available throughout the user experience, and a real asset for getting started. You will be shown a pinpoint location that’s determined from the address you enter in Location Address, or you can manually scroll through the map Deputy provides in order to select your whereabouts.
The next step, Areas of Work, classifies the different job titles in your company, or the areas you work in. The areas can be physical or descriptive. It’s on a case-by-case basis, and I thought Deputy did an excellent job of providing examples. If you work in HVAC, your areas could be supervisor, manager, technician or any other position. The beauty of Areas of Work is that it doesn’t matter what type of business you have; any company can use the software and Deputy will cater to its specific needs.
The third step is setting up the People on your payroll or team, with the option of adding their emails and phone numbers. You can do this one of two ways: you can either physically add the staff members (as shown below), or you can click on Excel or another compatible resource – such as Xero or ZenPayroll – and upload the file from the next page. Importing the file will add the names and information for you (Figure 2). An example is already provided in the first row of the Excel file that Deputy gives you to download.
The last step is Finished. Deputy will take the information from the first three steps and turn it into a usable platform for you to manage and from which to communicate with your staff or other team members – from any location at any time and from all from your mobile devices and/or computers.
The Deputy Experience
Using Deputy proved to be a logical progression from one function to another. As you can see in Figure 3, the Home screen shows the name of your company and its location. It is scalable, with the ability to add a location as you grow. Under News, you are able to make an announcement to share with your team. I think this is an important feature because you are able to reach everyone right away, instead of having to hunt them down individually by phone or email.
Next up is Scheduling, an easy way to set up and view your employees’ schedules. I liked the Scheduling tab because of its interface and flexibility to make changes on the fly.
As you can see in Figure 4, I set hours for three employees by clicking on the plus sign in the area or role each is covering on the particular day they work. On the top right, you can see the daily and weekly information generated by clicking on an employee. Clicking on Publish in the top right shifts the color from yellow to green. The Options button on the top right, under the gear icon, allows you to easily edit shifts, adjust locations and area, enter a sales budget, and mark public holidays.
In Timesheets you can document each employee’s status on the day they work (Figure 5). If they are a no show, there are options to enter a reason for the absence. You can also mark their experience as positive or negative, and make notes.
After you are done, you can export information into Excel, a .CSV file, QuickBooks Online, ZenPayroll, or a number of other accounting software programs. From the Timesheets tab, click Export Payroll and then select the intended program. I reviewed the integration with QuickBooks Online and the transfer of information was seamless. Deputy also has the ability to import information from QuickBooks Online, including names of employees and their pay rates. This should save a business from having to input the information the first time it sets up Deputy.
The next two tabs are fairly straightforward. The Tasks button adds tasks for particular employees, and gives you options for how and when you want to categorize them. The next tab, People, lets you see all your staff or team members. You are always able to edit their information.
The final tab is Reports, a detailed overview of your employees’ availability and leave, employee details (profile-type information), and journal entries (Figure 6). Deputy provides a nice, visual illustration of your schedule, timesheet, and sales. You are able to run a report on any of these four areas to get more information. This tool allows you to see the hours your staff has put in, what it is costing you, and what results are generated – in terms of actual sales. The chart and data that Deputy produces will help you recognize measurable results, allowing you to gauge how areas of your business compare, and ultimately, how successful or unsuccessful your business is.
In my experience, Deputy is an easy-to-use tool and should greatly benefit any company that schedules its employees to perform service-type jobs. Deputy keeps all the important information in one place, allowing for constant communication and access anywhere, anytime. For example, this always-on availability and simple interface provides technicians with more time to focus on their job rather than being bogged down with manual timesheets and reporting.
At press time, Deputy was close to releasing a new iPhone app that allows the user to schedule and export timesheets in real time directly to the software programs mentioned above, including ZenPayroll and QuickBooks Online.