Yes there is…a big difference! and we have decided to consolidate all our staff scheduling resources into one Knowledgebase to get round what for many is a problem.
A shift pattern is simply a pattern of shifts. There are two basic types: a week based pattern and a sequence based pattern. The week based pattern is based on the 7 day week. A sequence based pattern is independent of the days of the week. For example 4 days on followed by 4 days off = 8 days; and the eight day week does not exist. The purpose of a shift pattern is to consistently define a sequence of shifts and days off in a specific order. The idea being to achieve balance and even distribution of working hours at different times of the day – or 24 hour period. Shift patterns are independent of calendar dates and staff.
A staff schedule on the other hand is dependent on calendar dates and staff, in fact its sole function is to align shifts with named staff to specific calendar dates. The purpose of a staff schedule is to inform staff when to turn up for work, nothing more nothing less. If you have a shift pattern, or a combination of shift patterns you can automate the production of your staff schedule. If you do not have a shift pattern then creating a staff schedule will be hard work, probably unfair and almost certainly expensive.
So you need both, and this is where to find them; and the tools to deliver unlimited combinations of both.