October 12 –  

This is a hard one. Many businesses don’t have time to look backwards, and many operations do not provide meaningful variance analyses. But the process of determining changes to the operation or variance in the business environment is critical to running a smooth operation and to avoiding service catastrophes.

While many businesses will have forecast review meetings, usually the point is to reevaluate the forecast (usually only volume forecasts get reviewed), put pressure on the forecast team, and possibly change the plan. For many other organizations, variance analyses are a luxury, rarely consumed.

The best contact center organizations look at the variance differently. They view variance as a core piece to their planning process and an item that is dutifully performed. These same organizations view variance not as a forecast error, but as a change in their environment. Variance analysis is the canary in the operational coalmine.

Their variance analysis meetings serve a specific set of purposes. They look 1) to track what is changing in the operation’s performance drivers, 2) to determine if these changes require business decisions, 3) to fix variance items that are controllable, and 4) to make resource decisions about items that are not controllable. These variance meetings are management decision-making meetings (and not beat-up-the-forecaster meetings). They track variance to all of the main center performance drivers, certainly volumes, but also handle times, attrition, sick time, sales per call, etc…

Central to variance analysis is also what-if analysis. It is not good enough to know that an item (like attrition) is changing; it is also important to know what will happen to the operation if it continues to change, or what the resource cost will be to react to this change if it is determined the change is not temporary.

It is arguable, that this piece of the planning process is the most important, and it is enabled by an automated and optimized planning process.


Go to the SWPP Group on LinkedIn at https://linkd.in/1Bs2LJO and start a discussion.

Note: This week’s is provided by SWPP charter member Ric Kosiba. He is Vice President of Interactive Intelligence’s Decisions Group and can be reached at Ric.Kosiba@InIn.com, (410) 224-9883, or Twitter: ric@decisionstech.