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WFM Planning

Insiders Guide to WFM Planning: Fundamental capabilities of Real Time Management

6 min read
Author David Evans
Date Jan 31, 2013
Category Workforce Management

In this blog we highlight the key elements of a WFM planning real time management strategy and cover some best practice tips.

1) Agree WFM Adherence thresholds

When considering schedule adherence in terms of WFM planning, it may be worthwhile rolling it out to a pilot team initially so any tweaks and fine tuning can be made before deploying it to the wider operation. The proposed targets should be discussed and agreed with the Operation. Ensure the agents are aware of the reasons why schedule adherence is being used and take time to demonstrate how it promotes fairness amongst the staff.

2) Ensure the Workforce Planning Strategy is Visible

Your WFM application will provide the staffing overview and predicted service levels for the day. This will enable the real time analyst to see where gaps exist and make the necessary amendments to the workforce planning schedule through overtime, moving breaks and lunches. This plan should be agreed and visible to all involved so there are no misunderstandings on the expected service or staffing levels.

3) Keep the Resource Plan Updated

Update any changes to the resource planning schedule on a dynamic basis. On the day, changes such as sickness and late arrivals should be recorded as soon as notification is received and a revised plan distributed, detailing the predicted service levels for the day. The key is to keep the plan fluid and ensure all interested parties are kept informed.

4) Monitor real-time volumes

Workforce Management (WFM) applications will monitor real time volumes against the plan. Any deviation to the forecast or plan needs to be carefully managed. Your application will schedule staff to the forecast however if volumes are significantly different to the plan and service levels are compromised it is time to invoke recovery plans. The key is to use the WFM management application and ensure any multi-skilled staff are fully utilised. If there is spikes in contacts avoid a knee jerk reaction before making any fundamental changes to the plan.

5) Incorporate WFM Intrad-Day Forecasts

Use the intra-day capability in your WFM workforce planning application to show what the predicted end of day service levels will be based on actual volumes received. There may be a requirement to amend breaks and lunches based on the different arrival patterns. If there is a serious deviation to plan then it may require a refresh of the whole plan. Best in breed WFM applications will be able to simulate the volumes arriving and utilise multi skilled staff to the optimum level.

6) Monitor Agent Performance

Real Time Adherence monitoring is a key element in real time management. Ensure targets are realistic and involve management and agents in the process. If the adherence targets are set too high it will quickly lose any integrity. It is also worth taking the time to explain to the business the impact of non adherence from a customer perspective. If there are issues it is worth investigating what is causing the low adherence levels. It may indicate poorly constructed schedules.

7) Learn and Improve

WFM Real time management is an iterative process so any key insight should be used to feedback into the planning process. Historical adherence can be used to measure agent performance and any spikes or events noted for future forecasting purposes. The real time team can highlight the need to record the “special patterns” or exclude any extreme values.
Ultimately the key to successful real time management is utilising the tools available through your Workforce management planning application, making the plans visible to all and avoiding knee jerk reactions to contact variances.