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When we set out to make an AI rostering platform, the team at Rosterlab encountered many, many Excel spreadsheets. We’ve also wound up making innumerable spreadsheets ourselves. It's part of the territory of rostering and also part of the territory of testing a rostering AI. In this post, we go into the how, what, and why of the new Rosterlab Free Tier (the who is us, and when is sign up here now).

With Rosterlab Free, we are offering a rostering platform that does everything you wish your current Rostering spreadsheet did (except actually make the roster).


  • Quickly start using it by copying over your current excel template

  • Count shifts and hours rostered by person and day

  • Colour-coded warnings for over and understaffing by day and by shift

  • Warnings when the rostered shifts violate the rostering practices that you determine.

  • Colour-coded highlighting for when a person’s request is granted or not

  • Add additional info to shifts, such as a task being performed at that time

We based it on the columns and rows you’re used to using. Except we’ve combined all the best features we’ve seen so far from all the rostering templates we’ve seen, whether it was on Excel or Google Sheets, and put it into an app. We’ve also sprinkled in some functionality that we came up with in-house to check the quality of the rosters our in-house AI makes. Things such as checking if a sleep day has been given after a night shift, which I imagine the Excel formula that could check would resemble an Eldritch ritual.

Here are another two blogs on some of the Excel functions we used before this came about. One highlighted how to count staffing levels in Excel; and the other highlighted how to deal with sleep days after night shifts.

How did this get started?

Well, almost all the rosterers we’ve met use a spreadsheet. Sometimes they made it themselves; most of the time, it’s been made for them by a helpful colleague or their predecessor. Many have a platform for creating rosters and managing their staffing connected to their payroll system. And yet they still turn to their spreadsheet.

There are many reasons for this. Most find that they need the ability to visualise large swathes of information at once, to see a macroscopic view of what shifts have been assigned and to whom. Many roster makers know what information is helpful to them, and it’s not the same as the options presented to them by their rostering platform. The rostering templates that have been shared with us are specialised to the needs of the unit. They are lean and efficient with space and summarise the essential data points so that managers can make high-quality, fair, and safe rosters.

Why is spreadsheet not enough?

If these individual spreadsheets are so good, though, why did we make this? It’s about providing more information, seeing what else others have but not having to have an in-depth knowledge of formulas and spreadsheet techniques to adapt a good idea to your roster.

If you’re wondering about a particular thing, perhaps weekend days worked by each person, there’s no need to google how to implement it or worse, count them yourself. Have all of this information at your fingertips as your roster, instead of having to scroll left to right, back and forth to check the reference data against what you’re in the process of scheduling.

Lastly, there’s long-term ease of use. What happens when the team has expanded, and you want to add a new person to your roster? Are you confident that all your checks still work and count the new person correctly? We’ve seen many spreadsheets where one or two people are no longer properly accounted for in their rostering stats.

On the way to a greater rostering experience

That’s what’s in it for our users. What’s in it for us? On the one hand, we are satisfied with providing better manual rostering experience. The not altruistic side of me thinks of this as a wager that even the best manual rostering experience will be inferior to our automatic solution. We are confident we can show you a better and more efficient way to schedule your staff, and if we’re wrong, you can still use Rosterlab Free to level up your rostering process. Sign up for a free account here today!