What’s (the frequency of)your strategic workforce planning?

Artist Cara Barer www.carabarer.com
Artist Cara Barer www.carabarer.com

2009 and 2010 are expected to be tough years for most operations, due to the economy.

But planning ahead while addressing today’s many challenges, such as reducing expenses without negatively impacting output levels, delaying investments, retaining customers and increasing revenue, will enable you to come out of this recession well ahead of your competition.

The right workforce management (WFM) approach can help you meet today’s tactical needs – reducing your staff-related budget by 10% – 20% – and prepare for the future, as well.

As author Alan Lakein aptly says, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

What is Long-Term Strategic Staff Planning?

A long-term strategic staff plan for your operations is a systematic strategy formulation and planning process.

It is supported by technology and can create multiple scenarios that result in staffing plans aligned with enterprise-wide forecasts, resource plans and budgets.

How it Works

Strategic staff planning tools help managers balance customer service, profitability and employee satisfaction, in the short (6 months), medium (1 year) and long (greater than 1 year) term.

They help managers plan contact center activities based on changing business scenarios, such as economic downturns or growth spurts.

Long-term strategic staff planning solutions help answer questions such as:

* What is our ideal staffing level at different times, given different business scenarios?

* When should we open/close a site?

* What type of staff resources should we use to optimize performance and budgets: hire, overtime or both?

* If we have to reduce our agent-related budget by 20%, what is the best way to minimize the impact on service level?

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* When should we hire additional staff who can be fully trained when business picks up?

* What is the anticipated budget and financial impact of any of these decisions?

Workforce Management and Beyond

Workforce management solutions are used in operations to forecast the projected voumes, determine the number of staff needed to handle these volumes, and then create appropriate staff schedules.

The solutions are intended to optimize the performance by making sure that the organization has the right number of staff with the right skills to handle the forecasted transaction volume. Because WFM solutions are complex and it is challenging to apply their results, most managers take advantage of only a small portion of their capabilities. Managers who are willing to optimize their use of WFM, however, will likely be able to reduce their staff-related expenses substantially, avoiding the need to cut staff and compromise service levels.

Long-term strategic agent planning tools (which may be part of some WFM solutions) can be used to plan staffing needs one to five years into the future.

A manager must be able to plan, forecast and schedule to support the enterprise’s overall business objectives. Strategic planning solutions identify the number of staff, skills, and when to hire them; they also supply the associated budget and financial information required to plan ahead.

How It Works

Long-term strategic staff planning combines art and science. Using anticipated  volumes, handle times, attrition rates, hiring plans and service goals, scenarios are developed to address various projected business conditions. The end result is not just a forecast designed to meet service level goals; rather it’s a series of plans and budgets that support a number of “what if” assumptions. It enables good decisions to be made proactively, based on business plans, so that when a business grows, the operations can be fully staffed and ready.

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Planning Your Operations’ Future

The long-term strategic staff plan should be conceptual and directional. A good strategic plan identifies the best approaches for meeting long-term enterprise goals. An effective strategic staffing solution delivers practical and tactical recommendations. While it’s essential to meet your current goals, it’s as important to plan for the future so that you are prepared to grow in sync with the business.

And of course, the output must enable you to alter the execution with a extreme frequency. I prefer a monthly update for my own operations. And that update  is delevering within a working day by 2 or 3 specialists!

Artist Cara Barer www.carabarer.com
Artist Cara Barer www.carabarer.com