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Workforce Management: Worth the Investment?

February 08, 2012

Management of the workforce – a required task within the call center that leaders may or may not want to tackle. Regardless of the products or services supported through the call center, forecasting, scheduling and adherence are all critical elements of focus. To ease this process, a number of companies implement workforce management solutions.

This Monet Software blog explored the importance of workforce management and its superiority over the standard spreadsheet. If you’re a big believer in the spreadsheet approach and doubt the alternative offers anything to justify the investment, how do you handle schedule adherence? One of the key challenges within the call center environment is ensuring that everyone is on the floor and on the phone when needed.

At the same time, you also need to effectively forecast for anticipated call volumes. Workforce management solutions ensure you can automate many of your forecasting activities – something a spreadsheet won’t allow you to do. Plus, attempting to do some of these things through a manual process creates a platform for error and makes it difficult to share information or collaborate with your team.

Other mandatory tasks within the call center environment can be a challenge to complete when relying on the spreadsheet method. Returning to the topic of adherence, studies have demonstrated that tracking and monitoring agent adherence in real-time is essential if you hope to create a positive environment. Reward those agents who stick to the schedule and reprimand those who do not. If you expect a standard of performance, back it up with action.

Exception handling – how are you tackling this with a spreadsheet approach? Do you have to manually make changes and then resend the schedule to intended parties? What steps do you have to follow to cater to special requests from your staff? What happens if those requests come well after the schedule is posted? Any manual time you spend on this process is money and time spent unnecessarily. Workforce management solutions can automate each of these steps for you.

In all reality, spreadsheets can work, as long as yours is a small environment that relies on a fixed schedule. If your schedule ever changes – even if you’re a small environment – you can benefit from workforce management. Such an automated system can help you add flexibility to your start-time, end-time and employee breaks. This approach can also help you to improve service levels.

Don’t forget the importance of tracking call history and implementing tools for skill-based routing and scheduling. Is this something you really want to have to manage on a spreadsheet? If you implement workforce management applications, this information is automatically tracked for you, generating the necessary reports and schedules you need for a more efficient environment.

Take a minute and review your current methods. If you’re still relying on the spreadsheet for any of these tasks, but want to create a more efficient environment, it may be time to give workforce management another look.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Chris DiMarco

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