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Workforce Management Planning Techniques: Scenario Planning

Workforce Management Planning Techniques: Scenario Planning

Advanced Workforce management solutions offer the ability to produce accurate and meaningful ‘what-if’ scenarios to help gauge changes in the workload. These are extremely useful in presenting what would happen to service levels prior to an event taking place and as such ensure the right level of staff is available to cover demand. 

Note: It’s important to remember that the output will only be as good as the input, so it is imperative that historical data is added to the system.  
Workforce planners might want to experiment with various ‘what-if’ scenarios in order to find out how work load could be impacted if: 

  • Service hours were shifted, shortened or extended
  • A national TV campaign was conducted
  • The service level was raised or lowered by a certain percentage

And so on… 

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Scenario planning – ‘what if’

There are a number of different scenarios a planning team will most likely be asked to look at in order to offer direction to the business. This may involve long-term capacity planning to support target-operating models down to intra-day what if type analysis.  Some examples of scenario planning are:

  • Multi Skilling – what does our skills matrix look like and is it fit for purpose?
  • Site Strategy – what’s the impact of opening our new site?
  • Opening Hours – should we open longer, what’s the demand before and after we close? 
  • Recruitment profiling – what if scenarios providing shift patterns to the operation and human resources?
  • New Product Launch - what if we launch a product, what are the implications on our resource plan?
  • Process Change - if we change an internal process how does this impact on handling time?
  • Marketing Campaign – what’s the best day to launch our media campaign?
  • Mailings – what is the impact of our annual mailing drop, how we cope with volumes?

Assessing the Impact

It is imperative to agree on the parameters for the analysis of the ‘what-if’ scenario. For example, if sending out white mail or email statements will result in an uplift of enquiries, double check results are similar to previously obtained data. Access data from prior years and analyse if values are the same or similar enough. 
Moreover, if you have access to the volumes and handle times for the previous year you can use these to create special distribution patterns. WFM applications can store special patterns and distribution that can be applied to calculate the impact on requirements.
It is worthwhile to produce a number of what if scenarios and then agree with the business which scenario are most suitable for the organisation. 

Taking Action

Once the forecast requirements have been agreed, the next step is to provide insight into how this will be resourced.  Meeting increased demand can be achieved in a number of ways and again a number of staffing profiles can be created.  
There is the option to staff with overtime or re-align shifts. It may require the utilisation of other staff in the business or engagement with an outsourcer to provide the additional buffer. If recruitment is required then again it may be useful to produce a number of staffing scenarios based on the business goals.  The benefit of using WFM is the ability to quickly produce varied shift patterns that can demonstrate the how service level can be achieved.

Measure the Impact

Once the scenario has been agreed don’t forget to measure the accuracy against the actual volumes. So if you are staffing to meet demand through a statement drop, measure the actual volumes versus the scenario. If you are using a WFM application, the intra-day variances will be captured and retained for further analysis.


  1. Make a list of all the possible scenarios your organisation might want to plan for
  2. Ensure the parameters for scenario planning are agreed and visible
  3. If this is a repeat event, review what happened during the previous event and use special days/patterns where available
  4. Provide a couple of options and agree with the business the most suitable one to be implemented
  5. Make sure the actual impact is captured and retained for use on the next occasion



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