Best Practices for Extending WFM Beyond the Contact Center

By Mary Lou Joseph, Verint Systems

Extending workforce management (WFM) software beyond the contact center and into back office operations can not only provide benefits to your organization, but also to your career. For those already leveraging WFM in the contact center, think about the savings and benefits your company has already gained. Now, multiply that by two and one half times, because that’s typically how many more people there are in the back office versus the front line. You could be the hero in helping your company capture those benefits!

To get started, the following best practices can help engage business leaders in the back office and leverage your WFM software across the organization to improve business outcomes:

  1. Identify Your Business Drivers
    When back office managers understand all the insights and capabilities WFM can provide, they often see it as a panacea and want everything all at once. However, it’s important to test the solution in the environment and then build on early successes. Focus your efforts around improving key pain points or business drivers in your organization. For many companies, these often center on 1) gaining operational visibility and improving employee productivity, 2) streamlining processes and ensuring compliance, and 3) achieving your service goals and improving the customer experience.
  2. Pilot Your Solution(s)
    Once you’ve determined pain points and how your solutions can address them (i.e., using performance management to improve employee productivity, or WFM to achieve service level goals), identify a small group to pilot the solution. This group would ideally consist of 30-50 people all performing similar tasks. It’s also advantageous to have a manager or supervisor with prior experience with WFM, and one or more team members who are known and respected champions of change. These are the people who are constantly challenging the status quo, introducing new ideas, and helping drive adoption.
  3. Develop a Communications Plan
    Once you’ve proven the business case for back office workforce management in the initial rollout, it will be critical to create a well-thought-out communications plan before you even begin in order to secure buy-in from key stakeholders. This plan should address the needs of each stakeholder and how the solutions will support their individual efforts. Be sure to set clear objectives and success metrics for each area and share this with all stakeholders. Additionally, identify which stakeholders will play specific roles or support the implementation team.
  4. Cultivate Solutions Champions
    A great best practice among back office customers has been the identification and investment in “solution champions.” These are typically team members with influence among their peers. Bring them on board early, provide extra training, and most importantly LISTEN to their feedback. They are the ones in the field who understand the day-to-day operations. Incorporating their feedback in how the solution could work in your organization’s environment will strengthen their commitment to the endeavor and help make them cheerleaders for the program.
  5. Establish A Center of Excellence
    A Center of Excellence helps maintain consistent processes and manages objectives across your organization for how WFM will be used to drive business outcomes. It’s there to help consolidate expertise and increase economies of scale. The Center also can break down operational silos as members act as liaisons with the various business units. They capture feedback from end users to ensure the processes and solutions are working for each part of the organization.

As with any best practice, there also are considerations. These include:

  • Multiple Data Capture Tools—The back office is typically made up of numerous processing systems. Some of these can be quite old, making it difficult to integrate or get direct data feeds on work types and volumes. You also have manual, paper-based work for which there are no digital data feeds. To get an understanding of all the work to build effective forecasts, you need multiple means of capturing data and converting this into work types and volumes. This could include desktop analytics software that can capture data on work items without having to integrate with old legacy systems, APIs to accept data files from the numerous processing systems, as well as an electronic logging system for manual, non-system related work (e.g., opening the mail).
  • End-to-End Work Item Tracking—Work in the back office is often a multi-touch, multi-step process. Tying the individual tasks performed to the various processes provides a complete picture of all the steps involved in executing a process, so you can track not only the completion of the individual process steps, but the end-to-end resolution time for the process. This ability is key to ensuring promised turnaround times or service level agreements are met. The ability to track work from beginning to end against the service goal helps identify any work items that may be at risk of missing that deadline. Combining work item tracking with WFM can help managers reprioritize employee time and schedules to ensure the right work items are being completed at the right time to meet SLAs.
  • Work Allocation—A centralized repository for all work items helps create holistic and more accurate capacity models. It’s important to implement tools that can automatically capture, compile, and prioritize work items, and then presents to employees the next best work item to execute. Work allocation takes the guess work of what an employee should do next, and reduces lag time between working items, therefore increasing employee productivity.
    These are just a few of the purpose-built features needed to make WFM work in a back office environment. In fact, a higher education provider increased productivity by 15 percent across their contact center and back office departments. The organization also was able to optimize back office staffing, reducing headcount by 11 percent through attrition, and maintain service and productivity levels. Now, those are real results!

Mary Lou Joseph is a Director of Solutions Marketing, managing the back office workforce optimization solutions at Verint Systems.

For a best practices guide for extending WFM from the contact center into the back office, contact her at or 1-781-626-3328.

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