The Best Work Schedule Maker for Small Businesses in 2024

The Best Work Schedule Maker for Small Businesses

Small businesses often rely on pen-and-paper, Excel, or Google Calendar to create team schedules, but once the roster gets big enough, these solutions become too cumbersome for effective workforce management.

The shortfalls of these methods are easily addressed by Buddy Punch, our online schedule maker.

Buddy Punch is a cloud-based employee scheduling software solution with a drag-and-drop calendar interface. It includes:

  • Preferred employee availability in full view while you create schedules, preventing scheduling conflicts.

  • Editable shift templates that can be customized by department, location, position, and more; these templates can be saved and duplicated to easily create recurring shifts.

  • Push and email notifications for all employees when a new schedule is published.

  • Alerts and reminders at the beginning of the shift.

  • Shift trading features that let employees submit their swapped shifts for admin approval within the app.

Buddy Punch is also an online time clock and payroll solution, so you can:

  • Track employee work hours and attendance.

  • Ensure employees are actually at work when they clock in.

  • Automatically punch employees out at the end of their shift.

  • Streamline paid time off (PTO) accrual and requests.

First, we’ll go over how you can easily make, share, and amend schedules with Buddy Punch. Then, we’ll cover how Buddy Punch can efficiently track time and calculate payroll, freeing up more of your schedule.

To learn more, you can schedule a demo or start a free 14-day trial.

The Best Work Schedule Maker: Buddy Punch

Schedule Interface: Start Date, End Date

Our staff scheduling software has an intuitive drag-and-drop calendar interface with customizable shift template blocks. It’s easy to alert employees to the schedule once you publish it, as well as to any shift changes.

Plus, the built-in shift trading feature allows for efficient team communication when someone can’t make their scheduled shift. Here’s a sample five-step shift scheduling process:

  1. Review employee availability
  2. Create a schedule with editable shift templates
  3. Alert employees via push and email notifications
  4. Review shift trade and cover requests
  5. Automatically notify team members at the start of employee shifts

1. Review Employee Availability

Employee Availability Schedule

The process of creating an employee work schedule requires knowing when employees are available to fill open shifts. Buddy Punch allows workers to submit their availability — including any preferred shifts — within their self-service portal. This availability also shows up for managers and admins, so you can easily reference employee availability while making a schedule.

2. Create a Schedule with Editable Shift Templates

Assigning Shifts in Buddy Punch: Assign Shift to Jim Iverson

Drag and drop a schedule template block onto the calendar to get started. Once it’s there, you can edit it according to your scheduling needs, including:

  • Who is staffing the shift
  • The length, date, and time of the shift
  • The work site
  • The associated department and position
  • Whether the shift includes breaks
  • Whether the shift repeats

For example, the manager of a chain of grocery stores could set up recurring weekly schedules for cashiers at each site, plus non-recurring shifts for temporary seasonal workers.

3. Alert Employees via Push and Email Notifications

Add New Shift example in Buddy Punch

Within the settings, you can choose whether to notify employees via email and push notifications when you publish a schedule (or when the schedule changes).

Regardless of notification settings, employees can also view their scheduled shifts within their self-service portal.

4. Review Shift Trade and Cover Requests

Trade Request: Alex is now successfully covering your shift

Buddy Punch has a built-in system to allow employees to arrange for someone to cover them when they can’t work their assigned shift. Employees can make shift swaps within the app, which is then sent to the manager for approval. This ensures everyone stays in the loop, keeps the schedule up-to-date, and ensures that all positions are properly staffed.

Further reading: Shift Swapping: An In-Depth Guide + How to Implement

5. Automatically Notify Team Members at the Start of Employee Shifts


Buddy Punch lets you create automated reminders to send to employees, their managers, and their administrators at the start of their shifts.

In addition to choosing whether these notifications are sent via email, push notifications, or both, you can customize the content of the messages and which people receive them (whether that’s all the employees in a department or a single employee who opts into the feature).

Buddy Punch Time Tracking

Time Card: Welcome John Smith

Buddy Punch is a cloud-based time clock compatible with most operating systems and devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, and Apple. This lets employees punch in from a kiosk or from their own devices when they arrive for their shifts. The automatically generated time sheets can be accessed within the user-friendly admin dashboard.

The time clock’s features, which work in tandem with the employee scheduling tool, excel at reducing human error while increasing accountability and transparency.

Our time tracking features let you:

  • Ensure employees are punching in and out for their scheduled shifts.
  • Verify employees are on-site when they punch in.
  • Manage time-off requests and PTO accrual.
  • Receive alerts when employees are nearing overtime.

Sync Punches to Schedules

Our scheduling and time tracking features are designed to work together, providing options for ensuring employees are accurately tracking time during their shifts. This includes preventing them from logging hours outside their scheduled shifts, ensuring they punch out at the end of their shifts, and automating breaks to reduce human error from clocking in and out throughout the day.

Punch Limiting

Limit punching in/out

Employees who work outside their assigned shifts can rack up unauthorized overtime. To prevent this, you can enable punch limiting. Within the settings, you can set how long before and after a scheduled shift employees can punch in and out, giving them a buffer in case they’re running late or early.

Automatic Punch Outs

Automatically punch an employee out after a certain amount of time

It’s easy for employees to forget to punch out at the end of their shift, but this results in potentially costly timesheet errors. To avoid this scenario, you can enable the Automatic Punch Outs feature. Simply select a unit of time after the end of a shift for employees to be clocked out if they haven’t already, and Buddy Punch will take care of the rest.

Automatic Breaks

Automatic break rule

Employees are entitled to breaks, but requiring employees to clock in and out throughout the day is a recipe for human error.

Instead, you can set up our automatic breaks feature. For example, a half-hour lunch break that kicks in once an employee has worked a certain number of hours. This also increases transparency around what breaks employees receive, reducing the odds of time theft (which is often inadvertent).

Accountability Tools

Speaking of time theft, it’s important to verify that employees are actually showing up for their shifts. Buddy Punch offers multiple tools for this, including GPS tracking, geofencing, and IP address locking.


GPS and Geofencing: Type and Device

Buddy Punch’s GPS feature records employees’ locations while they’re clocked in, and only while they’re clocked in.

Managers can view this data in real-time, or they can review past locations (such as the location an employee logged in from, or locations over time). This is particularly useful when employees work at multiple sites, or for delivery drivers and other employees who work a route during their shift.


Geofencing Map

Buddy Punch’s geofences feature is a geographic radius around a specific location; in this case, a workplace. Buddy Punch lets you designate how far employees must be from their work site before they can clock in, keeping employees from reporting their commute as hours worked.

IP Address Locking

IP Address Lock: Restrict clock in behavior based on IP address

With our IP address lock feature, employees are only able to punch in and out from the IP associated with their workplace’s internet.

Like geofencing, this ensures that staff members are on-site when they clock in for their shift.

PTO Accrual and Management

Upcoming Request: Request Time Off example

With our PTO accrual feature, managers can set rules for how employees accrue PTO; these rules can be customized by role, department, or other factors to ensure compliance with the law and with company policy. Once the rules are set up, PTO accrues alongside hours worked.

Employees can request both paid and unpaid time off through their self-service portal, allowing managers to manage requested absences with the schedule in mind (and vice versa).

Overtime Alerts

Overtime Alert for Alex Wizard

Because Buddy Punch tracks hours worked, it can also track overtime.

Our overtime alerts feature can be easily enabled for both employees and managers. This gives employees the chance to clock out and managers the chance to adjust the schedule to prevent unplanned overtime whenever employees are in danger of exceeding their usual hours.

How to Issue Payroll with Buddy Punch (2 Methods)

Method #1: Integrate Buddy Punch with Your Current Payroll Provider

Payroll: Run Report, Import time into payroll

In addition to all-in-one scheduling and time tracking functionality, Buddy Punch also streamlines payroll. You can take the time tracking records you have in Buddy Punch and export them to whatever payroll system you’re using.

For clients that are satisfied with their current payroll system, Buddy Punch offers integrations with leading accounting software like ACH and QuickBooks.

Payroll Integrations with Buddy Punch

For any software we don’t have integrations for, you can export your timesheets out of Buddy Punch and into an Excel file.

Method #2: Use Buddy Punch’s Payroll Software

If you’d prefer to just use one tool for both time tracking and payroll, you can switch over to Buddy Punch Payroll.

Our payroll software makes it easy to pay employees based on the shifts they worked, since wages are calculated directly based on Buddy Punch timesheets (managers can also input non-hourly bonuses).

In addition, the Buddy Punch payroll system can handle:

  • Expenses
  • Taxes
  • Direct Deposit


Mileage Tracking (Total)

Buddy Punch is able to track expenses such as:

  • Group Life Term
  • Reimbursements
  • Non-hourly Regular Pay
  • Paycheck Tips
  • Bonuses
  • Commissions
  • Cash Tips
  • Severance Pay

In addition to ensuring accurate payroll, this provides a tool for recording business expenses and creating budgets and labor cost estimates for future endeavors.


Automate taxes and forms

When you do payroll with Buddy Punch, it automatically calculates and files local, state, and federal taxes. In addition, it sends pertinent forms such as W2s to your employees.

Direct Deposit

Payment Method, Personal Info, Text Withholding

Employees can select their preferred payment method and payment information within the self-service portal. If they set up direct deposit, Buddy Punch will automatically disburse funds once you’ve finalized payroll.

If you’re interested in letting Buddy Punch streamline your scheduling, time tracking, and payroll needs, visit our site to explore pricing options, request a demo, or try it free today.

Real Customers Reviews About Buddy Punch

At the time of this writing, Buddy Punch has 980+ reviews on Capterra with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. (Capterra is a non-biased, third-party review site where you can see how real businesses are reviewing Buddy Punch’s software.)

Buddy Punch has 4.8 stars on Capterra with over 982 reviews

Here’s what our customers have to say about using Buddy Punch to write their work schedule:

Easy to use. Many of my employees are students with ever changing schedules. Buddy Punch is easy to use and change schedules weekly or even daily as things come up. BP tracks the time the employee is logged in so I don’t have to.


What I love most about Buddy Punch is how simple it is for employees to clock in and out, add their lunch breaks, and write notes about their shifts. I also love how easy it is for me to import it into QuickBooks and pay payroll with it! Before I used Buddy Punch I was keeping time manually with 3 employees and it drove me crazy. Now I have over a dozen employees and I do not know what I would do without this software.


Our staff was able to transition to using Buddy Punch across a wide variety of shifts, so it was easy, simple and did what we needed it to. I like that users can go back and edit as well as see reports, plus employers can review it easily and create categories.


The ease of this software helps me post schedules quickly. I have three businesses and staff that float between all. The color coding system helps me see what employee or department needs attention.


To learn more about using Buddy Punch for your own team:

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