We are reviewing the structure of our Workforce Management team in our department. We are unique to the company and are the only group performing this  function. We are looking for some help in determining how the work should be divided, as well as training and advancement opportunity information. Can you help?



With no idea of the size or number of sites involved, here are some general thoughts:

The work in the WFM department is typically divided in two basic ways. The first divides by task and the other divides by call type or business supported.

When the work is divided by task, there is one person/group who handles forecasting for all call types, another who handles scheduling, and others who handle real-time monitoring. It can be one person for each task or multiple people depending on the size of the overall team. The advantage of this arrangement is that each type of task really benefits from a different type of expertise and skill. It develops a strong forecaster who makes the links to the departments who generate work for  the call center, taking advantage of people with strong math skills, analytical talent, and focus on precision. The scheduling people work closely with operations and the agents to develop the best balance of need and acceptable schedules, handling shift bids, scheduling of tasks such as coaching, and perhaps time-off management for planned periods like vacations. This takes a good negotiator, a person who likes to experiment and seek out new ideas and ways to find that balance. The real-time team needs to be focused on quickly seeing changes as they develop, determining the best way to adjust, informing the operations team, and negotiating for the best solutions. The challenge here is coverage for absent WFM staff and a rotation scheme to ensure that rudimentary knowledge is available to cover for missing staff if needed.

When the work is divided by call type or business, each member of the WFM team is responsible for a business unit and typically does at least all of the forecasting and scheduling for that unit. Real-time is typically still done on an overall basis but can be separate if there is no call sharing or overflowing going on. The advantage  of this scheme is that each person becomes highly knowledgeable of the team they support, which can translate into high levels of knowledge of forecasting drivers and more cooperation between departments, but the levels of expertise in both forecasting and scheduling areas may not be as high as in the task-oriented model. The drawback of this model is again cross-coverage especially in a small team. Rotation among the business units would be advised to ensure that the basics can be done when one WFM person is absent.

In terms of location in a multisite operation, the forecasting/scheduling processes can be centralized. Realtime can be divided between a central and on-site team since the centralized view is needed where ever there is a sharing of calls between sites. Development plans often assume that a person is entering the WFM team in the real-time area and then moving into one of the other tasks as their expertise, interest, and capabilities suggest. But that is not always the case. Some will enter in another role immediately and care must be taken to ensure that they have a path for development that might include more training and expertise in their task, rotation among tasks with and eye on a management role, development of analytical skills to focus on reporting and interpretation of data, becoming a Certified Workforce Planning Professional (CWPP) through SWPP, etc. Some may wish to move into other areas of the call center or the business, but it is best to try to retain this highly specialized expertise in WFM when ever reasonable.


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