Sunday, 25 May 2014

Ten top Workforce Planning Tips - Part 1 of 2


Over the 10 years I have been involved in workforce planning, I have picked up a few hints and tips along the way. Some you learn from others (and I have been lucky to have reported to some very influential thinkers) and others you learn yourself - sometimes the hard way.

Here are few I would like to share, on their own they might seem quite simple but have at certain points of my career they have had great meaning and have steered my thinking down a certain path that has delivered great results.

Would love to hear you hints and tips!!

  1. Have a dedicated Workforce Planning Team. Sounds obvious, but there are still organisations that don't have a dedicated team but instead have the deliverers spread across a range of different roles. Apart from being crucial to any organisations success/survival modern workforce planning can be a complex task and when put into silo's it generates considerable diminished returns and in many cases duplication and confusion. 
  2. From a scheduling perspective treat all agents fairly and consistently, but don't slip into the trap of believing an even distribution of shifts is fair nor that you know what fairness looks like without asking what an agents preference is. 
  3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Tailor your communication to the audience in question.  The difference between good workforce planning and excellent workforce planning is the ability to translate the mathematical side of planning into easily understandable stories that are relevant to intended audience.
  4. Develop a thick skin and keep going despite knock backs. Have the guts to try new approaches and be prepared to get straight back up when they don't work out. 
  5. Whilst using shrinkage as a target in the long term plans is acceptable, as you get closer and closer to real-time the shrinkage should become more realistic to the point where it is no longer a target but an assumption. Additionally as you move closer to real-time make sure you adjust shrinkage assumptions accordingly. Don't fall into the trap of double counting your shrinkage - for example for every holiday booked this should reduce your % holiday shrinkage.
  6. Avoid near jerk reactions. There will always be underlying variance and events that you just cannot plan for. Where possible prepare contingency plans and avoid chasing service level. Canceling breaks, training, coaching ect might seem like the right thing to do at the time but might actually have adverse effects later on in the day/week/month
  7. People and process before technology. Technology is an enabler for quicker and more accurate plans, but true workforce planning is a business process not a technology solution. ROI on WFM technology investment will only be achieved through robust workforce planning processes and methodologies and sound people skills (both soft and technical)
  8. Where possible own as much of the forecast as possible. Most don't, they take a forecast from sales and marketing (or other sources), refine the forecast and throw it on to other functions for further refinement. Whereas, best in class teams, own the entire forecast and by doing so they know the baseline forecast and are able to work on driving root cause analysis to improve accuracy.
  9. Really get to your business and your customers/stakeholders, don't just stick your head into an excel sheet or a WFM systems and expect to produce a plan fit for purpose.
  10. Don't just assume your WFM solution data is accurate, learn to monitor and quality check at the various sources on a regular basis and where possible incorporate it into your calibration process.