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Workforce Optimisation

Workforce flexibility, Verint v11 and more

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Sabio hosted a great WFO Customer Masterclass yesterday, with lots of topics discussed. During the morning session I ran a workshop to discuss Resource Planning and best practise planning techniques.

The main areas of interest were:

  • Flexibility
  • Fairness rules
  • Calibration inc shrinkage
  • Holiday Management
  • V11 – Automated Overtime Requests

 

Flexibility

One of our customers is going through a flexibility project moving staff from fixed to flexible shifts and wanted ideas of where to start and what options they need to consider.

There was lots of input into this discussion and many different strategies were put forward – interestingly from some organisations that having started out with the fully flexible agent approach, have found that by being flexible themselves and accommodating different types of shift requests they are able offer more constrained shifts without losing the schedule fit. The main piece of advice offered was to ‘engage the agents directly and get their buy in, make them feel involved in the process’.

Trying to deliver this process through the supervisors / team leaders was seen as risky and troublesome, whereby the supervisors won’t necessarily understand the bigger planning picture and so would often take agents shift requests or unavailability at face value rather than understanding the aims and objectives of the scheduling task and so not pushing back enough.

Whilst supervisor buy in is obviously key, this process was considered more effective when engaging with the agents directly. Also, identifying an agent within each team as a ‘champion’ was seen as helpful to the process, particularly if the agent is one of the ones normally more vocal about shift options – so setting up a forum to involve these agents within the planning process & giving them a view of the big picture can be helpful getting the message across to the rest.

The other main message was that testing and modelling is crucial. What works for one organisation might not be best for another – there are lots of variables (opening hours, call profiles / volumes, weekend working, skills & queues etc) – it is important to test the model in WFM and determine what works, what doesn’t and the level of flexibility that is needed – often only small amounts of flexibility are needed, rather than complete flexibility. Up to 2 hours flex seems to be the norm, with only one attending customer asking their agents for complete flexibility across the day.

Fairness

Fairness was discussed – some people balancing shifts manually to ensure fairness – I highlighted the option of using I360 to do this automatically across multiple rolling weeks. This is quite a popular bit of functionality with a lot of customers and works really well.

Rest day fairness was commonly achieved through rotations, rather than having flexible rest days – this seems to be common practise where the rest day pattern is identified in advance so only the shifts can flex.

Calibration

The calibration process was then illustrated – this is the process whereby the correct settings are determined to allow WFM to predict SL accurately. In simple steps it is basically forecast accuracy > schedule accuracy > shrinkage > patience.

In all it’s a process that will should take less than 30 minutes to complete and can increase confidence in the system massively. By using a historical week and using the actual volumes & AHT from that week as the forecast – the rest of the system settings (shrinkage and patience mainly) can be determined to give the most accurate results moving forward.

Holiday Processes

The subject then changed to holiday management processes and default hours settings within WFM –the recommendation was made to always used the hours from the max shift length as the default. That way, the agent can never go over their entitlement and the system will correct the hours as and when the week gets published.

We also discussed the fact that if the daily hours are known by the agent (where they do different hours each day), then they should just book the number of hours they know they will work – that way the default hours will be ignored and the actual number of hours taken from them will be correct in the first instance.

V11.1 New features

Time was then running out so we moved on to the new features of Request Management in v11. I did a demo of the automated overtime booking process and automated shift change requests.

This got a good reception and will be a popular feature of the new release – allowing agents to see overtime slots specific to their skills and book this time automatically through the system, whilst also doing shift slides and shift changes automatically too.

This was a great first session before lunch. Session 2 – Intra-day MI and Processes to follow.

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