SWPP Announces Finalists for
2017 Workforce Management
Professional of the Year Award


NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – March 1, 2017 – The Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) has announced the five finalists for the 2017 Workforce Management Professional of the Year Award, which recognizes a workforce management professional who has shown outstanding leadership in the industry.  The finalists are Rita Davis of Rogers Communications, Carson Fulde of TELUS, Jessica Harris of Cardinal Health, Joe Muehlhauser of Sage, and Cynthia Stevenson of Citibank.

“These five workforce management professionals are truly representative of the ‘best of the best’ in our industry,” said Vicki Herrell, SWPP Executive Director. “They have all demonstrated great leadership and ability in the field, as well as shown measurable results for their companies.  We are pleased to present them as finalists for this distinguished award.”  The winner of the award will be announced at the SWPP Annual Conference, which will be held in Nashville, Tennessee on March 27-29, 2017.

Rita Davis is the National Workforce Manager for Rogers Communications, which is the largest telecommunications company in Canada with 10,000 agents across 25+ sites.  She has been in WFM for five years after starting out as a frontline agent.  There are 52 members on the WFM team, and Rita moved through various roles showcasing her passion for innovation before becoming a manager.

Rita has used her point of view and experience as a frontline agent to lead from the front and connect with employees when rolling out innovative tools.  Her knowledge of the business and frontline experience has helped to roll out technology that has a positive impact on frontline employee satisfaction and WFM.

Rita is an innovative thinker and saw the value of rolling out a social media application to interact with agents that has reduced daily email interactions with the WFM team by 40%.  Now agents can help each other through this platform.  She also contributed to the development and deployment of a workforce mobile app and web portal linking to existing WFM technologies that gave frontline staff the flexibility to view schedules and apply for voluntary time off (VTO) or voluntary overtime (VOT) from anywhere. With 80% of the employees signing up and using the app, the project resulted in a savings of $5 million per year with a total cost of less than $50,000.

In another great example of innovation, Rita deployed the Intradiem software system and was a key player in evolving the system from a training delivery tool to a workforce management real-time optimization tool. Rogers saw a 25% increase in VTO hours during downtime that can be directly attributed to this implementation. The roll out of real-time break optimization rules in the software led to an 82% reduction in break adjustments.

Finally, as the lead in upgrading and optimizing Aspect workforce management software, Rita deployed innovative features such as using the sequential shift bid feature to offer extensions to part-time schedules reducing the need for costly overtime hours. She was also a key player in optimizing shift trade capabilities in Aspect, which reduced manual email forms sent to the workforce management team by 20%.

Overall, the results from Rita’s projects have shown a 10% increase in adherence and compliance to schedules while also achieving a 25% decrease in operating costs.  Employee satisfaction is at an all-time high with a 30% increase year over year.

Carson Fulde has been in the TELUS workforce management department for six years.  He is the Manager of Business Analysis, working with a team of 100 in the workforce management (WFM) group supporting over 1000 staff in more than 10 locations.  The agents handle almost a million contacts per year including inbound calls, chats, emails, SMS, and other tasks.

Carson had been responsible for the scheduling team when the company did some reorganizing in 2015 and added real-time queue management to his role.  While Carson had not led a real-time team in the past, he embraced the challenge with a passion to make a difference.  One of the biggest challenges was the consistency and accuracy of staffing decisions made by the team to address over- and under-staffing conditions.  The process had focused on balancing daily and weekly staffing variance while applying blanket levers to increase or reduce staffing levels, which was inefficient. In addition, the intraday customer experience was inconsistent due to drastic fluctuations between over- and under-staffing, and overtime costs and potential cost savings through unpaid time-off were not meeting financial goals.  WFM analysts were stressed by not having clear guidelines when making staffing decisions.

In 2016, Carson made a commitment to provide a more consistent intraday experience for the customer and more effectively manage the operating budget by providing a framework for the team to accomplish their work.  He worked to implement an Intraday Effectiveness Model, which incorporates an interval-based staffing variance measure, which represents the supply and demand gaps in a percentage-based format.  The model clearly highlights the areas of opportunity where the variance is greater than or less than 10% and it is applied in 15-minute intervals.  It guides decisions up to seven days in advance as well as in real-time.

The implementation of this model under Carson’s passionate leadership realized a direct financial benefit of $1.75 million, which was the result of more efficient utilization of overtime and significant reduction in overstaffing conditions.  There was also an in-year 14% improvement in total interval distribution effectiveness, which improved the consistency of the customer experience. Frontline team member satisfaction also improved, as captured in the following quote from one of the team members.  “The new unpaid time-off flexibility has allowed me to balance work and life more so I can run errands, get needed shopping in, attend appointments, and generally attend to my family’s needs.”

Jessica Harris is the Workforce Optimization Manager for Cardinal Health.  She has 23 years of experience in contact centers and WFM.  This experience has helped Jessica to be both a subject matter expert and effective leader serving 630 agents in five locations with a WFM team of nine in the US and five in Manila.

Jessica is an extremely detail-oriented leader who not only understands the strategic value of WFM and how decisions impact the customers, but also the individual nuances of technical and process changes while ensuring these changes are implemented with little disruption.  This strategic and detailed operational view helps her to provide the right message to the right stakeholders to ensure alignment across the organization.  In addition, Jessica has the unique trait of being able to anticipate questions and concerns of both the business and IT leaders, allowing her to proactively reach out to stakeholders to ensure they are informed before critical issues are raised to management.

Jessica’s efforts have resulted in increased efficiencies and cost savings/value realization of over $480,000 annually.  She has used her leadership abilities and extensive knowledge of WFM to provide the organization with greater insights into volumes, trends, adherence, shrinkage, and a host of other metrics so that the organization is more confident to make informed business decisions.  She is a true diplomat when bringing IT and business leaders together to make the right decisions for customer and company and overcoming the “us vs. them” mentality.

In one project to reduce complexity and increase efficiency, Jessica worked with the business to consolidate the 112 separate queues supported by 640 agents.  The consolidation provides a more consistent experience for all customers as well as reduced staffing requirements, reduced overall cost, and improved forecast accuracy.  In another project, Jessica addressed the challenge of inaccurate staffing forecasts.  She discovered an AUX (not ready) code that agents could (and did) use with no negative impact on adherence metrics.  At the same time, there was no defined state for after call work to be accurately captured, resulting in inaccurate handle times.  By partnering with a Black Belt group, the organization was able to reduce the total not ready codes by half and 432 hours each week were recovered for a savings of $380,000 per year.  Agent satisfaction was also improved through clear definitions of work states and how to handle needed after call customer work.  In a third project, Jessica drove the implementation of a standardized WFM software package, resulting in an annual saving of approximately $100,000.

Joe Muehlhauser is the Director – Business Performance Management, North America Services, for Sage. The WFM team of eight supports 525 agents on a normal basis, rising to 750 during peak seasons, in 12 locations.

Joe joined Sage in 2005 when the company was still scheduling manually. He fought long and hard to bring WFM to the entire organization and was passionate (and still is today) about the benefits it can provide for customers, colleagues, and the Sage business.

Joe’s nine years in the US Marine Corp equipped him with key leadership traits including good judgment, dependability, integrity, decisiveness, courage, and knowledge. Joe understands not only the science of WFM but the art and creativity as well.  He sees the whole picture; yet like an artist, he can drill down and pinpoint a particular area or need.  His sense of humor and down-to-earth style give him the innate ability to explain WFM processes and metrics in an easy to understand and comfortable way. This helps greatly with change management and adoption of WFM best practices.

Joe continually keeps service level and other metrics top of mind through a quick daily stand-up leadership and management meeting where the focus is on key goals and performance metrics. Joe walks the group through the key year-over-year measurements and keeps them on track for goal attainment with a preview and forecast of the current day and the weeks ahead.

Joe received the Sage Hammy Award for his impressive efforts during the 2015-2016 peak season.  Calls over 45 minutes were reduced by 64.6%, calls over 60 minutes reduced by 88.7%, ASA reduced by 42.1%, and calls blocked reduced by 77.5%.  All this improvement occurred while 30.2% more calls were answered.  Over a two-year period, ASA has been reduced from 12.1 minutes to 2.1 minutes, abandon rate has been reduced from 24.2% to 4.6%, and overall customer satisfaction has improved from 75% to 82.3%.

Some of Joe’s other contributions include creating a WFM playbook to be used on a global roll out of WFM to all countries and working with the Contact Center Services team to streamline queues and implement Courtesy Callback.

Joe is the leader in the North America Services operations organization who ensures the operation has the right people, in the right place, at the right time, in the right way – and he does it with confidence, diplomacy and grace.  He was instrumental in bringing WFM onboard at Sage, which resulted in approximately 12% improvement in service level attainment, saving 48 head count and $3.6 million per year in recurring cost.

Cynthia (Cindy) Stevenson is Global Workforce Senior Manager, SVP, at Citigroup.  Cindy joined Citi in 1991 and has held a number of WFM roles in her 20+ years with the company. Her initiative and commitment to continuous improvement have led to increasing levels of workforce management responsibility and contributions to the organization. The WFM  team of 630 personnel support 45,000 call center agents across 92 sites in 30 countries handling over 45 million calls per month. The Global Workforce Optimization team works internally to create effortless interactions with people, systems, and products.  They partner with the internal businesses to improve the customer experience.

Cindy has been part of a team effort to create a new eWFM module called WFM Command Dashboard.  Cindy identified the project need from a process that was slow and creating delays for the internal clients (the employees).  She then went to Aspect with an idea on how to fix the problem, and partnered with them to create a brand-new solution that has improved forecasting by 16% efficiency, improved vacation process by 5%, improved the wait list process by 11%, and improved voluntary time off by 5%.  Cindy and the Global WFM team lead, Kim Riddell Hall, were nominated for the Workforce Optimization Technology award, presented by Aspect Software, as a result of this project.   Cindy is a true leader — she empowers & credits her team and is a true partner in every sense.

The Dashboard was designed to quickly and easily adjust key forecast parameters automatically in just a few steps.  This product has increased efficiency by enabling WFM staff to review historical forecast volume, update it, and recreate an intraday performance forecast all in the same step.  This improved agility also allowed workforce staff to quickly communicate with agents on upcoming overtime and voluntary time off.  By increasing responsiveness to intraday scheduling activities, they were able to improve productivity and enhance service levels that delighted their external customers.

The WFM Command Dashboard was designed for workforce staff to support agents.  Engagement levels continue to trend upward and surveys, focus groups, and roundtables indicate a high level of satisfaction with the new WFO technology.    The product was fully launched in February and is trending to an approximate 25% increase in process efficiency, which has also resulted in reducing operating costs by 15%.

The SWPP Board of Advisors selected the five finalists from nominations submitted on the SWPP website.  The Workforce Management Professional of the Year award is chosen from the five finalists by the Board of Advisors and announced at the 2017 SWPP Annual Conference.

About SWPP
The Society of Workforce Planning Professionals (SWPP) is an organization devoted to facilitating education and networking opportunities among workforce planners across all industries.  Membership in SWPP is available to all workforce planning professionals and other interested parties from consulting and vendor organizations.  Both individual memberships and corporate membership options are available, with full benefits and costs outlined on the organization’s website at www.swpp.org.