by Paul Chance
Strategic workforce planning is part of the workforce management process used to predict the number of employees that are needed and then schedule and manage them to the operational goals. Effective workforce planning has many benefits, including understanding how many employees are needed to handle the workload, proper skilling of employees, attrition rate, and ensuring that operational goals such as occupancy, shrinkage, and service levels are met. A Plan for the Future The planning portion of workforce management begins by looking into the future to determine hiring plans based on business growth/decline, capacity, use of outsourcers, and operational metrics used to measure success for the business. Organizations benefit from long-range workforce planning by being able to model any number of scenarios with the business to determine the right number of employees that are required to handle the workload. These plans are then converted into hiring plans and onboarding plans to ensure there is adequate staff available when the demand occurs in the contact center. Another aspect of workforce planning is more near-term, typically around 4-6 weeks into the future. Exact numbers of employees required are calculated then fed into the scheduling solution to ensure coverage for every 30-minute interval during that day. This forecast is done at the “contact-type” level where “contact-type” can refer to any logical grouping of interactions being sent to a specific group of employees in the contact center. Examples might be based on language, product, or other skills that employees have. More sophisticated workforce planning will automatically recalculate the required number of employees after every 30 minutes and compare that number with the number working to show any positive or negative difference, which flags overstaffing and understaffing scenarios. Accurate Forecasts The real benefit of workforce planning is in the accuracy. An accurate plan means that you are hiring and scheduling the “right” number of employees in every situation. Hiring too many is wasting budget and having too few hurts customer service. NICE leverages sophisticated artificial intelligences to ensure best in class accuracy of forecasts. Scheduling and Intraday Management However, workforce planning is only the first part of the process. The required number of employees is used by the scheduling process to generate when employees are working. This is a very complex stage, as it needs to balance labor laws, business rules, vacations, employee availability, and employee preferences with the requirement while also not scheduling too many employees or having to pay overtime. Proper scheduling results in employees that benefit from more work/life balance and the business having the coverage they need to service their customers. The last part of the process is referred to as Intraday Management and is used to ensure the day is performing against the plan. It is used to monitor if employees are working as per the schedule and if the demand is matching the prediction from the forecast. Changes are managed in real-time to ensure good service. The ultimate benefit of workforce management is that the end customers are being taken care of according to plan, thus reducing customer churn. In addition, the employees are also being taken care of, thus reducing employee churn.
Paul Chance Over 25 years helping organizations help serve their customer in a manner that helps both the organization and their customers through enabling technologies and processes. This is a win - win scenerio. I firmly believe that with the right technology and processes organizations can meet their revenue and profit goals while increasing customer retention and increasing the number of customers recommending the organization to their friends.