The start of a new year, new quarter – or really any time you need a reboot – usually represents an excellent opportunity to reflect on how you can improve your workforce management functions, methods and methodologies, and update workforce management technologies and processes as needed.
Spring cleaning of your Workforce Management solutions and tools
Working in an ever-changing contact center environment with increased pressure to perform and to operate more effectively, it’s important to take a step back to do an “annual cleanse”. No, not a physical cleanse but a scheduled workforce management cleansing that allows planning teams to re-evaluate processes and procedures, better organize tools to optimize the efficiency of their work – all while improving the customer experience.
After months and years of use, we tend to have too many unnecessary elements clogging up our workforce planning tools. This can cause delays or even service stoppages and sometimes, it can complicate how we navigate the system. Let’s take this example, you can’t seem to remember which schedule model you last deployed for a specific situation, so you went ahead and created a new one. Problem solved, right? Well, you’ve just created a new problem as you now have duplications within your WFM system – all because you mislabeled or misidentified information. Compounded over time, this can cause many challenges and disruptions.
Lead with WFM Best Practices
Just like any other activity, you need to have good standards and practices in place. Start by defining a good WFM maintenance plan for your tools that takes into consideration the processes and data that may need to be archived or eliminated. Unnecessary or outdated data should be purged periodically to reduce clutter and redundancy, and thus allow you to make better decision while providing a better user experience for your planners and managers. And by the same token, you also deliver better efficiencies.
Examples of data that can be purged include:
Outdated forecasts (including old scenarios that no longer apply)
- Old or unassigned schedules (if applicable)
- Outdated agent statistical data (published schedules, productivity data, real-time data from beyond a certain number of days, such as login and disconnection times, etc.)
- Employees who are no longer employed by your organization
Stay vigilant, as it’s impossible to remove everything and in some contexts, reducing the number of entities can be an equally valid and effective option. This data includes:
- Schedule templates
- Redundant or unused activity codes
- Unused automated reports
An important part of your plan includes the frequency of each scheduled maintenance. This may vary depending on the size of your business, the number of users, and the degree of use of your tool, but regular maintenance should be completed at least once a year by your system administrator.
Note that most workforce planning tools provide maintenance modules that simplify this process. Get familiar with the specific capabilities of your workforce planning tool, or turn to your trusted solution provider, like Inoria, to guide you through the process.
Put your Workforce Management procedures in order
It seems obvious, but as we go through our day-to-day activities, we assume that the procedures we set in place months and years ago are still valid. It is important that you review your planning processes and procedures to ensure they remain relevant and effective.
Your goal should always be to look for ways to improve or simplify your workforce management processes. Here’s a good way to start:
1. Review your business rules and processes
- Review scheduling priorities (full-time vs. part-time, skills, etc.)
- Be more flexible in your models: start times, combination of days off, length of shifts
- Review your forecasting and forecasting methods (reforecasting)
- Review your management practices in real-time:
- Is your contingency plan effective?
- Measure your ability to respond to rapid changes in volume, processing time or employees
- Review your reports:
- Are they created at the right frequency, sent to the right people via the right media?
- Keep only value-added reports
- Calibrate your tools according to your environment and specific situation (seasonality of processing time and “shrinkage,” for example)
2. Automate repetitive tasks to save time and money
- Automate daily, weekly, monthly reports, etc.
- Are you optimally using automation tools already in place?
- Are there advanced automation tools available to help automate certain tasks?
- Evaluate the automation tools available on the market.
3. Review your service offering
- Can you offer other services?
- Can you serve other business units?
Engage your WFM team in the spirit of renewal
Collaboration always works best. Rely on the people who use your WFM tools to provide their experience and expertise to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Take a satisfaction survey on the delivery of your services to your customers
- Monitor workforce planning practices
- Generate new ideas (to better respond to internal customers)
- Brainstorm team practices
- Detail projects the team would like to work on during the year
- Review your workforce management team’s training/development program
- Collect feedback from employees (several times a year)
Get in the habit of developing good workforce management habits
Everyone needs to be part of the cleanup process. For a thorough cleanup of your workforce management system and adoption of new procedures, you’ll need your team’s collaboration and involvement. You’ll also need a detailed plan outlining the actions that need to be taken – each and every year. And of course, these tips are by no means exhaustive; they’re simply intended to plant the seeds for reflection and future action.
If you’re stuck on where to start and would like some guidance, reach out to our Inoria workforce management solution and service experts. We can help you build a renewal plan or audit your workforce management tools to ensure your operations run optimally. Give us a call to get started!