Ten Top Workforce Planning Tips - Part 2 of 2 (2014) - WFManagement


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Ten Top Workforce Planning Tips - Part 2 of 2 (2014)

A few weeks ago I posted 10 top tips, if you missed it you can find the post here - Workforce Planning Tips Part 1

Please do contribute with your own tips, I as I am sure a lot of other readers would love to hear about your best practice shares.

Here is my part 2:
  1. Forecast down to the lowest minute interval level that reasonable accuracy will allow. Where possible forecast down to 15 minutes, the smaller the interval the more likely you are to pick up short-lived spikes in volume, or how overstaffed you might be during sporadic lulls. This allows you to better match staff to workload plus avoid situations where overall you meet service level but still generating extremely bad service levels during points in the day - don't fall for the average trap
  2. Trying to achieve a 100% forecast accuracy is unrealistic, it is more important to strive towards consistent acceptable tolerance. Use methods such as MAPE to determine the size of your forecast error, and a simple process called forecast value added (FVA) to tell you how efficient you are forecasting or whether your method is making the forecast better or worse. Learn more about measuring forecasting accuracy here -  Measuring Forecasting Error
  3. Never stop striving to learn - the workforce planning profession is still in its infancy when compared with traditional professions  - there is so much to learn and innovate on, with new horizons being reached on a regular basis. Also be aware of knowledge erosion, it can be a real threat to even the strongest workforce planning teams. Specialists move on, technology develops, and new innovation in process and methodology pushes the boundaries leaving gaps in knowledge and understanding.
  4. Workforce planning started in the inbound call centre and is now commonly deployed in multi-skill, multi media contact centre environments. Start to explore the next frontier and bring workforce planning to other areas such as the back-office, field, and retail outlets.
  5. Agreeing to every shift change request will quickly soak up resource within the planning team. Whilst employee satisfaction is vital it is important to put strict governance in place to restrict post schedule publish requests to family, childcare, or emergency situations and encourage all other change requests to be made via automated shift swapping.  For pre-schedule publish requests evaluate the change against business objectives both from a service level and fairness perspective.
  6. Help advisors and supervisors understand the mechanics and work rules used in producing a schedules so they know what to expect before a schedule is published.
  7. Your Real-time monitoring teams are your eyes and ears in any workforce planning process. A good real-time team are constantly monitoring and analyzing key performance indicators and trends so they really have their fingers on the pulse, more importantly they often know WHY there is variance. Therefore when RTA has to re-forecast or re-schedule, capture it along with the WHY and where relevant build it into your overall workforce planning cycle.
  8. Because Workforce Planning will often highlight functions that are over-staffed, it has over the years been associated with cost cutting and this in many ways has given it a bad name. However a workforce planning process that is really adding value to a business is one that's aim is to 'right size' the business. This might in some cases be about cutting staff but it is important to publicize the objective of 'right sizing' as this will promote operational buy-in at all levels.  
  9. Never recruit on the basis of a fixed shift pattern, without ensuring you have sufficient flexibility elsewhere within your schedule. One business I worked with fell into this trap and thus when customer demand evolved or they had a recruitment freeze they were prevented from adapting.
  10. Set realistic adherence targets based on how long a call is likely to take, the number of possible changes in Aux Codes and how much known variance is in your forecast. Remember also that there is such a thing as positive non-adherence. Introducing a real-time adherence approach also pays dividends and if applied correct can easily provide a high return on investment. Whichever the method, drive adherence through understanding and not through the use of the stick. Advisors who understand the 'power of one' will often self-manage their own and other team members adherence.