Any organisation looking to implement workforce management (WFM) technology is normally at the tipping point where growing pains and the limitations of spreadsheet planning are becoming problematic and there is a need to automate the workforce planning process.
Futureproof your WFM investment
Whatever the level of resource planning in the organisation, it’s important to ensure the proposed WFM application is agile and flexible enough to change with the organisation. Even if you are starting with planning for front office only, ask the vendor about multi-channel and multi-skill and other features that will support the business going forward. Take time to research the different options on the market, look at the forums and professional bodies where current users are always keen to share experiences.
It’s also worth considering how responsive the vendor is with market developments. For vendors who solely concentrate on Workforce Management as the core product, it typically means a more modern flexible product. For vendors who have WFM as a “module” within a suite of products, it may mean any updates and enhancements are dependent on the wider product suite.
Workforce Management Engagement and Self-service
Other key features that WFM should have include a strong focus on agent engagement and self service. This will allow employees to take an active part in the workforce planning process and also enables a reduction on the administration overhead for managers. An employee portal and access really should be a prerequisite for any solution.
Another key factor to consider is the method of deployment when implementing Workforce Managenent. There are different deployment models centred on hosted, software-as-a-service (SaaS) or the traditional on premise solution. A hosted or SaaS model may be preferential if a monthly charge is more palatable. Alternatively, a one off payment may be preferable. Whatever the method of deployment, hosted or on premise should offer the full functionality required.
WFM Aftersales support
The provider should also be quizzed on the deployment method. This typically follows two work streams – technical and functional delivery. A structured plan should be in place to scope, deliver and optimise the product. The training should be based on the agreed hierarchy and go live is normally when you are scheduling “live” for your agents. Ensure the provider is available for onsite visits after deployment to offer guidance and best practice.
Get buy-in early
Once the decision has been made to go ahead with WFM, it is important to gather a team of stakeholders from all aspects of the business to ensure it can deliver value from day one. It’s not just the Planners and Ops managers that the system impacts, its HR, Marketing, Accounts and most importantly the Customer Service staff. A robust communication and engagement plan should be put in place at the earliest opportunity to sell, highlight and demonstrate the benefits of WFM to the individual.
As part of the project team, consideration should also be given to “who” will manage the WFM application. This is a niche skill set that may not be currently present in the organisation, the WFM provider should be able to assist with providing job descriptions.
Workforce Management Go-live considerations
For the “go live” there are a number of considerations. Are you happy to go “big bang” and deploy across the whole area in scope? Alternatively a staged approach may be preferable, perhaps running parallel for a short period of time until the technology is bedded in. Some modules within WFM may require some careful handling whilst deploying. Real Time Adherence is often a very emotive area that requires a considered approach with staff. The “go live” stage is critical and a positive move, so the benefits need to be articulated to the business. It’s a good thing! Employees can self-serve, administration is reduced and customers will benefit from a consistent service level. Well worth providing some communications to staff to explain the changes, what to expect and the benefits.
Workforce Management – Track success over time
Whatever the form of deployment, it is important to measure the benefits of the resource planning solution from day one. Ensure some agreed bench marks are in place that can be tracked over time. This will ensure any ROI or payback can be measured and is useful if you are looking to expand it into other areas of the business where the benefits can be demonstrated.