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How Not to Be Intimated When Selecting Workforce Management Solutions

August 19, 2011

Contact center managers know that as Murphy’s Law would have it, two of the most critical elements in the center--human resources  and service levels--that absolutely must be well managed, are the two variables that most easily get out of control.

These same contact center managers know that workforce management software would be the shield they need to guard against these variables spinning out of control, but many may be intimidated at the prospect of making the purchasing decision, and may also feel that workforce management software is out of their league, something only large contact centers implement.

Dispelling the second misconception, today the same workforce management software used by large organizations is available to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that have contact centers because it can be utilized as a hosted or cloud-based solution. With cloud-based workforce management software, the contact center doesn’t need to make a large initial investment in hardware and software and doesn’t need to employ a dedicated IT staff for its management and upgrading.

Second, call center management can gain the confidence they need to select a good workforce management software solution by knowing a few of the basics. We found some sound guidelines for evaluating workforce management solutions that were put together by Monet Software,

 a global provider of workforce management solutions for small and medium-sized contact centers. If you find yourself in the position of needing to make a workforce management purchasing decision, it may be worth considering the steps this company recommends you take before making a selection.

In addition to figuring out your potential   ROI and risk factors, Monet says there are four major issues to consider when making your selection of a workforce management solution. The first thing to do is to look at the workforce management software’s key functionality. By that it means to consider such things as integration with ACD to facilitate call history, as well as to be sure that it provides performance metrics reports and simulation forecasts. In addition, take a look at how it handles staffing and scheduling as well as exception handling, intra-day management and real-time adherence.

Next, consider all of the variables needed to actually implement the workforce management software, including how long it will take to implement; the equipment that will be needed, such as hardware and software; and what internal and vendor/consultant resources will be needed to complete the implementation . As already discussed, today by simply paying a subscription fee (some vendors even take credit cards), contact centers can reap the benefits of a cloud-based workforce management solution and have it up and running within a few weeks, eliminating some of these considerations.

The third area to evaluate is what your total cost of ownership will be for each of the workforce management solutions you’re considering.  If you are not going the cloud-based route, you’ll need to factor in upfront costs for hardware and software along with any integration and implementation fees.  IT and facilities costs are factors as well.

Don’t neglect to find out about ongoing subscription, support, maintenance or upgrade charges associated with the workforce management software solutions you are considering, as well.

Finally, and this ties in with the ROI and risk factors mentioned earlier, discuss with the workforce management solution vendors if they will be able to configure the solution to meet your individual contact center needs, and from there, decide if the solution’s ease of use will allow you to make full use of the investment. You need to think about what it means to you financially if the solution doesn’t work out or if the benefit you reap from the solution falls below the amount you have invested in it. 

As you proceed through all of these steps, keep in mind that your goal is to find a solution that allows you to have the best balance of the most appropriately skilled contact center agents interacting with customers at the right time and to be able to have that solution up and running in the shortest possible time, so that payroll costs and service levels never again spin out of control. 

Linda Dobel is a TMCnet Contributor. She has been an editor in the contact center space for more than 25 years, and has the distinction of being the founding editor of Customer Inter@ction Solutions (CIS) magazine. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco

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