In todays economic environment, many large service organizations are looking for new ways to save paper, cut refreshments expenses, and even reduce social benefits. However, it is ultimately the routine utilization of employees personnel and managers in which investment is the highest. This would suggest that a primary condition for an organizations success is intelligent management of its Human resources a field now known as Workforce Management (WFM).
Even in its most basic form, WFM is no trivial matter for any given time period, having the correct number of appropriately skilled personnel placed in the relevant shifts to handle the expected workload. This of course should also take into account the dynamic realities of the work environment, including employee absences and no-shows (which can cause a chain reaction of shift trades and transfers); periodical refresh and certification training; staff meetings that must be worked in to the schedule; and of course the necessity of intelligently managing the workers breaks (or else everyone will be out at the same time).
Add to that trying to keep employees happy by taking their preferences for working days and hours into consideration, and a noble attempt to keep things fair can often turn the workplace into an inefficient kindergarten badly affecting retention levels, and causing significant costs for the recruiting and training of new workers. Additional expenses such as transportation and performance-based rewards can also add to an already inflated budget.
This complicated web of constraints often keeps even the most sophisticated organization from making optimal use of its available resources, and achieving a work plan which will give the best results for the requirements and desired level of service. A specialty software-based solution can think about all these criteria in real-time and provide an authorized user with the appropriate tools for making the best possible decisions regarding planning, scheduling, and more.
As one of the countrys largest provider of satellite telecommunications services, the company must always balance the needs of organizational performance and technical excellence with maintaining high levels of service to a savvy and technologically demanding client base. Two years ago, they decided to take an important step towards optimization of their customer service by implementing a WFM, workforce management system in their Call Center operations enabling managers to schedule their multi-skilled agents according to forecasted work volumes, and making sure the right agents are working at the right time, even taking into account their personal preferences and constraints.
News of the success of the implementation and the benefits in task scheduling and managerial efficiency spread quickly within the organization, and before long there were other departments wondering what such a tool could do for them. With 300 technicians working in one of 5 daily shifts in 18 different geographical divisions, Regional Managers for Technical Services had to deal with the scheduling of the technicians according to the requests in their areas a tedious job that is never quite finished. Inquiries were made about buying a new system with the necessary modifications, we where very happy to remind the company that their existing system was fully enabled to handle the extra configurations.
First, an addition to the existing organization tree was created, according to the regional divisions. The personal information of the technicians was then entered into the integral HR module, and each technician assigned the hierarchal position and the skill of the area they served. Finally, the daily shift structure was built according to the range of service availability.
Throughout the entire process, the WFM solution was giving direct support to the efforts of the system administrators at the company, whose training encompassed all such modifications to system use.
Centralization of the scheduling processes now allows the Scheduling Manager for Technician Services at the company, to complete the entire weekly schedule in less than 2 days, leaving plenty of time for the necessary adjustments according to real-time changes and events. Efficiency is enhanced further by applying the WfM multi-skill architecture to enable technicians with a more flexible range to be scheduled in different locations as needed. Now there are plans to implement WFMs proprietary Transportation Management module to as well, for defining and applying specific service routes.
Although workforce management systems are quickly becoming the norm in most self-respecting Contact Centers, it is important to remember that the benefits of optimization are not limited to scheduling telephone interactions. In the case described above, a culture of sharing Best Practices within the organization allowed the company to leverage the flexibility of WFMs solution and thereby maximize their ROI. But of course any work environment which involves employees with different skills (and constraints) working within certain time intervals will find many ways in which the WFM system can enhance the scope and quality of their services while reducing redundancy and organizational spending.