ESP: Employee Scheduling Program

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Take the labor out of scheduling

If you’re spending more than two hours producing your weekly crew schedule, it’s time for a change: Put ESP to work for you and you’ll have your manager back on the floor in record time, all while saving up to one percent in labor cost. ThoughtWorks has been providing labor scheduling solutions for over twenty years, and ESP is used in over 3,000 locations, in thirty countries and six languages.

ESP isn't a band-aid solution. The system learns about your operation, your volume patterns and your crew abilities. Then precisely and accurately places your crew when and where you need them. ESP is ideal for companies whose work force is composed predominantly of part-time, wage-paid employees.

How to create a perfect schedule in record time

Producing your weekly schedule is as simple as following a checklist; working from a Schedule of tasks ensuring that you:

  • Stay organized: by simply following the tasks in order
  • Never miss a task: by simply following the tasks in order
  • Remain focused: if interrupted you know exactly where you left off

Home form checklist


Producing each week’s schedule is a snap: First, project your sales (or transactions) and labor requirements and then, at the touch of a key, ESP calculates projections based on the last few weeks, last month, last year, or any combination thereof. Volume can be projected by the hour, half-hour or quarter-hour. Then, make your employees' time-off requests. Once you’ve completed these two simple steps, ESP takes care of the rest.

ESP calculates a full weekly schedule, complete with employee names and work assignments, in less than five minutes. After that, your manager can review and adjust the schedule on-screen. Then the schedule goes on the wall, and your manager goes back on the floor. Total time from start to finish: Less than ninety minutes. And you can stop worrying about costly labor law violations. ESP ensures your schedules meet all local labor regulations, so that you never break a labor law again.

Detailed reports mean better control

ESP’s management reports give you the detailed information you need to operate at peak efficiency. A graphical line-bar report, as shown below, provides an excellent overview of shift coverage, while a separate schedule listed by employee name completely eliminates the chance of a missed shift. An on-call report helps you quickly find replacements for sick or no-show employees. Other reports include a break report to help ensure each employee takes the break(s) they are entitled to, a summary report that details your volume, labor cost, labor percent and more, and many more reports to help you manage your employees. Once the schedule is complete you can even use the e-mail report form to send all your employees their work schedule by e-mail.


Detailed schedule reports


You may print the reports as often as you like and you can preview all reports on-screen and then print them only when the schedule is complete.

Computers don’t take coffee breaks

ESP considers hundreds of variables when producing a schedule: Shift lengths, staffing requirements, employee availabilities and job qualifications, minimum and maximum hours, labor laws, job and shift rotation, just to name a few. ESP handles the task better and faster than even the most organized manager: Just a few minutes a week is all that it takes to keep ESP’s information files updated. And it never misses a trick or forgets that Julie wants the third Thursday in May off. You can even tell ESP to give preference to lower-cost crew: This feature alone can save you thousands of dollars a year.

Crews actually prefer a computer schedule: Site surveys reveal that employees find that the computer schedule is fairer and less likely to be influenced by favoritism.

We schedule the way you do

ESP is based on the same procedures you follow by hand. Even if your managers aren’t familiar with using a computer, they’ll quickly be up and running. An easy-to-follow, thorough training guide makes ESP simple to learn, and detailed program and on-line help are available at the touch of a key.

Put us to work for you…for free!

We’re so confident that ESP will save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of management hours that you can test a fully-functioning copy of the program for free for up to sixty days in your location. If you’re not convinced at the end of the trial period, you have no obligation. But we think you’ll want to keep it.

Put us to the test: Try our software free for sixty days at your location. You have nothing to lose, and a more efficient operation to gain.

List of benefits and features

Ease of use features

  • Checklist-based ensures scheduling tasks completed in an organized manner.
  • Familiar office interface makes ESP 5 easier to learn, use, and customize to the user's preference.
  • Viewing the reference manual is easy because it is stored on your computer when you install the program.
  • Access the help files from a menu option; keep the help screen open for easy reference as you work.
  • Access additional comprehensive on-line help from the same menu option.
  • Adding satellite/departments is a quick and easy process with ESP 5. No data to copy/replicate; ESP simply duplicates the main store automatically - excluding volume entries.
  • With all languages built into ESP 5, changing the language the program displays is a simple menu choice.

New and improved features

  • Home page summary screen displays hyperlinked warnings about problems with the current schedule, which helps the manager find and fix problems.
  • Home page summary screen displays statistics about how long the scheduling process took, which can help supervisors/consultants evaluate a manager’s understanding of scheduling.
  • ESP score card used in conjunction with the summary screen gives managers and supervisors a tool to measure scheduling performance and set goals for improvement.
  • The visual appearance of the schedule on screen has been improved making it significantly easier to navigate.
  • The labor +/- statistics are more detailed to show the information for both totals and selected station at the same time.
  • The schedule screen statistics displays the crew to management ratio at all times, which provides better labor control through efficient use of management hours.
  • Able to review and print unlimited past schedules. With the appropriate login, the user may also edit a past schedule to allow for editing the current week's schedule when sudden events meant drastic changes to volume.
  • Schedule screen on-call list can remain open as you work. This information is updated automatically as you edit the schedule. It contains more details including a scoring system to help managers find the perfect person to fill a shift.
  • Schedule editing screen has 4 views:
    • By station will display the traditional daily line bar for viewing shifts by day
    • By Managers separated will display the same information as the by station view except that the managers' shifts are grouped separately from the crew's shifts
    • By employee will display the shifts by employee names for viewing on individual employee’s shifts
    • By errors will display a list of only the shifts that have errors associated with them; makes it easy for managers to identify and correct errors in the current schedule
  • The schedule editing screen is more detailed and easier to navigate.
  • Expand or contract all the shifts on the screen using a toolbar option; makes it easy to find a shift or employee.
  • All time-off requests can be entered on one form, eliminating the need to open and close each employee’s form to enter their requests separately. You can enter time off requests for the current schedule and future schedules.
  • Menu options allow you to view the time-off request entries in different ways: by day, by employee, for the current schedule only, or for the current schedule and future schedules.
  • All fixed shifts can be entered on one form reducing the time spent entering fixed shifts.
  • The fixed shifts form displays daily and weekly counts, which provides better control of fixed shifts.
  • Entries on the fixed shifts form are not limited to the current schedule; they can be entered for unlimited dates in the future. You may even enter an entire managers' schedule at one time.
  • Live data entry means all changes take effect immediately. You can even schedule a new employee into the current schedule who was added after the schedule was generated. Eliminates the need to re-generate in the middle of editing your schedule.
  • The graphed view of a positioning guide will help you quickly and easily identify labor saving areas and problems with that guide.
  • Positioning guides have a volume by hour column, either SPMH or TCPH, depending on your volume projecting preference, which helps ensure accurate and efficient entries and improve labor positioning.
  • Better control of employee’s availability with our date-based system means that temporary changes never have to be removed.
  • Dual availability control. ESP knows which availability is active and presents the availability to the user on the employee's information form. The inactive availability will appear grey with a line through it on the employee's form to ensure no confusion. Summer/alternate availabilities can now be implemented easier, faster, and with better control.
  • The availability options screen allows fast change from regular to alternate availability on an individual labour category basis.
  • Time restrictions can now apply to individual stations giving the manager better control over who is scheduled at each station.
  • Stations form now has a type column to allow for crew/management ratio tracking.
  • Improved break control. Breaks are assigned by labor category, which allows you to setup paid breaks for one category while another category's breaks are unpaid.
  • Improved control over shifts lengths. Busy periods that disallowed both start and stop times have been replaced with an advanced option. User can now disallow start or stop times or both.
  • More control with labor categories. Shift and hour limits are now also defined in the labor categories form. Employees inherit labor category limits (shifts, hours, closes) from the labor category that they are assigned to but this information can be modified in the individual employee’s information. When the numbers conflict, lower limits apply.
  • The schedule preferences form uses sliding controls for rating the importance of specific conditions that ESP should consider when generating the schedule.
  • When generating a volume projection by selecting weeks of actual history on file, comments about those weeks are now displayed, making it easier to identify the best weeks to include in your projection.

Time and labor saving improvements

  • Schedule detailed by half or quarter hour for greater accuracy.
  • Date-based schedule paradigm virtually eliminates mixed up date errors. Schedules are more accurate and easier to complete.
  • Reduced labor cost through better reporting and use of management hours.
  • Reduced labor cost through more efficient scheduling engine.
  • Shorter learning curve reduces training costs.
  • Reduced time to produce schedules.
  • Fewer no-shows because shift assignments are e-mailed to employees.

New and improved report features

  • Preview all reports before printing.
  • Redesigned line bar report gives more detail including start/finish time and shift length.
  • Detailed daily labor summary allows managers to track labor live throughout their shift.
  • E-mail report allows managers to send weekly shift assignments to employees by e-mail. This saves management time and paper and improves employee morale as they don’t have to stop into the restaurant to find out when they are working.
  • Training summary includes the percent of crew qualified at each station.
  • New reports help you track and recognize employee's birthdays and length of service, which helps with employee morale
  • Transaction counts (TC) per hour are now reported along with the sales per man hour (SPMH), if both are on file. No longer are you restricted to reporting only one.
  • New, access external reports inside ESP; once opened the reports are fully user customizable

Connectivity features

  • Industry standard XML-based interface makes exchanging information with third party software simple.
  • Charts can be exported and imported via XML making them easy to maintain and standardize by the central office.
  • Imports both sales and transactions, when both available.
  • E-mail schedules using SMTP or mail client such as Microsoft Outlook, or Lotus notes.
  • ESP 5 has maintained compatibility with all previous interface software.

Security features

  • Multiple user account levels to allow various permission levels and block access to key features.

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