Pharmacy OneSource Blog

Mining Your Labor Budget for a Staff Scheduling Automation Investment

Posted on 10/09/15


Pharmacies have seen increased efficiencies from the use of technology in areas such as ordering, compounding and processing, but for many one system still lags behind – staff scheduling. Traditional staff scheduling is inefficient. Who does the scheduling? How is leave managed? How are staff communicated with regarding the schedule? These are all areas where dramatic improvements can be made that have an immediate impact on the bottom line.  

What can be challenging is that to improve efficiencies in scheduling, you typically need a more efficient system or tool to make those positive transitions. Staff scheduling software or scheduling automation software systems are widely available but are rarely free. 

When a pharmacy manager or administrator realizes introducing staff scheduling automation can increase staff efficiencies and improve employee morale, they often need help building the business case to invest for the first time in better managing staff resources.

Where can you find the budget dollars to invest in automated staff scheduling? 

When considering a web-based solution, it is best to first look in the operational budget rather than a capital expense budget. Next, because this type of automation investment will yield improvements in labor efficiencies, we recommend you look to your labor budget for ways to justify the investment. 

Here are some approaches to consider.

1. If you are running short-staffed, tap your budgeted vs. actual headcount pool of dollars.

For example, if you have budgeted 30 FTE and have been running with 26 FTE for the past quarter, you may be able to leverage that delta in labor costs to build your case. 

Here’s a look at the math:

  • Estimated average hourly wage: $23
  • Total hours not worked by the 4 FTE: 40 hrs/wk x 13 wks = 520
  • Total labor $ not spent in previous quarter: $23 x 520 hrs = $11,960

2. Estimate the hidden costs of scheduling. The number of hours spent depends on the size of the department.

  • Estimated range of hours spent/wk on (hidden) scheduling:  8 - 30 
  • Estimated average hourly wage of schedule administrator:   $30
  • Total labor $/yr spent on these hidden costs:  $12,480 - $46,800

Other potential areas of savings that can be estimated based on your automated staff scheduling implementation include:


A smart staff scheduling solution like StaffReady Scheduling will be able to help you schedule the right people for the right work at the right times without putting people with particular competencies into an OT state by factoring in those competency needs during the automated schedule build. You can also anticipate OT situations when moving people to cover open shifts. With better transparency you should see a reduction in OT usage.

Staffing growth

By leveling out and balancing your staff needs across various job assignments, you will likely experience staffing efficiencies and thus slow your rate of staffing growth, delivering more labor savings in future budget cycles.

Uncover your hidden scheduling costs. The Hidden Cost Calculator helps you capture the time spent on the unacknowledged actions associated with scheduling. Use this worksheet to calculate the true annual cost of creating and managing your department’s schedule. 


staffready cost calculator

Topics: Pharmacy Scheduling

About the Author

Tim McMenamin has more than 30 years of experience in the Hospital Information Technology (HIT) industry and has been an active member of HIMSS, ASHP, HFMA and other healthcare communities for many years. Leveraging emerging technologies to deliver clinical content to the point-of-care has been an area of special interest and research.