An Easy Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Schedule


Stuart Baker, WFM Solution Consultant & Contact Centre Best Practice at injixo, provides an easy guide on how contact centres can create schedules.

Five Steps to Create a Schedule

1. Create a Forecast

Firstly you’d need to create a forecast of the work you want the schedule to cover. Usually the forecast is based on previous work volumes, and analyses trends and patterns, and predicts the work volume at interval levels throughout the day.

The forecast can be created manually by using a spreadsheet tool or a workforce management system. Using a workforce management system can improve the accuracy of the forecast, and also reduce the time spent to create it, as these systems use complex automated algorithms to identify trends that aren’t always easy to spot when looking at data manually.

2. Create a Demand / Requirement

Once you have your forecast you can create a demand or requirement. This is created by using the forecast of work and applying the inputs that are needed for the requirements calculation.

For telephone calls, a method of calculation called Erlang is used. This takes into account the inputs such as the average time to deal with the call, service level that you wish to achieve, and also a shrinkage factor, which is an allowance for the fact that not all staff will end up spending 100% of their time working.

Utilizing this calculation you can create a requirement for each of the intervals during the days that you wish to have a schedule for.

3. Build the Schedule

Once you have the staffing requirements for the schedule period, you allocate the shifts and work patterns to best cover the requirements. Some of your staff will have fixed working patterns, and some may have flexible contracts that allow you to allocate different shifts on different days.

The more staff that you can be flexible with, the better the coverage you will have for the schedule. You could use a spreadsheet tool to record the staff shifts, or use a workforce management system that can do this automatically. This will track how many staff are working compared to the requirement at that time to see if you have enough staff to cover the work volume.

Using a workforce management system should mean you can get a better coverage of staff to the requirements, as the system will use complex algorithms and work out the best possible fit.

4. Review the Schedule

Once you have the schedule with the staff shifts in place, you can review what service you are likely to give your customers.

Usually you will create a schedule some time in advance, and as you get nearer the date of the schedule, it’s best practice to review the forecast and create a reforecast if you think it’s required.

This could change the requirements, and therefore the service levels you’re likely to get with your existing schedule in place.

You may not be able to move staff shifts at short notice, but you will be able to see where any pinch points are, and potentially ask staff if they can slide their shifts to fill the gaps, or maybe offer overtime.

5. Analyse Performance

Stuart Baker, WFM Solution Consultant & Contact Centre Best Practice at injixo
Stuart Baker

And finally, after the schedule period has passed, review how successful it was. Was the forecast accurate against the actual volumes?

If it was, did the requirements get met with the schedule, or did you lose too many staff to other unplanned activities, and therefore underperform? Learn from this analysis and make changes to the next forecast and schedule to improve the performance next time.

Thanks to Stuart Baker, WFM Solution Consultant & Contact Centre Best Practice at injixo, for contributing to this video.

If you are looking for more great insights from the experts, check out these videos next:

Author: Stuart Baker
Reviewed by: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 7th May 2024 - Last modified: 10th May 2024
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