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Factors to Consider When Selecting Workforce Optimization Software

October 11, 2012

The heart and soul of a call center is its workforce, which makes supporting and monitoring agents a crucial component of every call center. One way to do that is through workforce optimization software (WFO), which aims to optimize back office productivity.

“Workforce management applications are designed to automate the deployment of the workforce through workload planning, scheduling, time and attendance tracking, resource management, and rules and compliance management,” noted Lisa Rowan, an analyst at IDC (News - Alert), in an article at Enterprise Apps Today. “Increasingly, workforce management applications are being integrated into customer relationship management applications in a contact center environment.”

When considering a WFO solution, there are several factors to keep in mind.

First, look for clear, accurate and customizable reporting. Call centers can generate massive amounts of data, and both capturing and making sense of the data is a crucial aspect of a good WFO.

Next, make sure the WFO solution can integrate with the work environment, displaying real-time feedback so managers can make adjustments on the fly. The NICE Back Office Suite, for instance, provides real-time activity monitoring that accurately gauges processing times, monitors desktop application and web site usage, and gives visibility into what’s actually going on in the back office.

A good WFO should excel at forecasting and scheduling.

“Accurate forecasting is the critical first step in workforce management. It is important that your WFM solution integrates seamlessly with your dialer or ACD and uploads historical data directly from the database,” according to “WFM helps you produce forecasted schedules with defined shift rules, work patterns, breaks, off-phone times, employee skills and preferences and targeted service-level goals.”

Reporting and performance management is an area not to be overlooked. It is essential to capture and analyze critical data in all areas of the call center. WFO solutions should make this easy, extending deep into the processes of a call center and being able to interoperate with them to capture this data.

Another factor to consider is whether the WFO solution offers systematic scheduling. WFO solutions “should have is the ability to create effective schedules that allow the contact centre to meet the forecasted customer demand,” noted “Using the forecast as a basis, schedules need to ensure that there are enough people to roster on every day, but also to ensure that shift patterns represent peaks and troughs in the volume of calls expected as identified by the forecasts.”

Does the WFO empower agents and managers? “By providing agents with dashboards of their own performance in real time,” wrote, “they can better understand their own performance and identify where improvements can be made without going through a formal and time-consuming review process.”

Finally, does the WFO have a Web-based interface that makes it easy for managers and agents to seamlessly collaborate?

These are just a few of the key areas that call centers should consider when selecting workforce optimization software.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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