7 Top Tips From an Award-Winning Resource Planning Manager

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After winning Gold for ‘Resource Planning Manager of the Year’ at the UK National Contact Centre Awards, Tim Milburn shares his thoughts on what it takes to be an award-winner.

1. Listen and Act On Agent Feedback About Their Shift Patterns

Listen to what your agents tell you in the employee engagement survey – especially when it comes to work/life balance. This really helps with engagement levels and continuous improvement.

For example, we used to ask our agents to work a full weekend on a rotation pattern, but some of the feedback we started seeing was that people didn’t like to work all weekend.

We were able to take that on board and change the shifts to ask them to work just one of the weekend days on a different rotation pattern instead.

This was supported by some changes in our hiring policies as well, to look for just weekend staff to fill some of the gaps.

To get the most from your contact centre schedules, read our article: Shift Planning – What You Need to Know to Best Engage Your Team

2. Hold Weekly Planning Meetings With Ops, HR, and Finance

Regular communication with other departments is key to success:

Make Fair and Consistent Decisions About Longer Periods of Annual Leave

Of course, you don’t want to make life difficult for people, but you also need to have some structure to approving holidays and flexible working requests to reduce any colleague resentment or sense of unfairness.

That’s why we hold weekly planning meetings with representatives from Operations, Human Resources (HR) and Finance to make fair and consistent decisions about everything from longer periods of annual leave (above the standard 2 weeks) through to flexible working requests.

This approach also helps you to collectively keep a close eye out for people making up stories, as sadly some do. For example, those who pretend to have a sixth, seventh, or even eighth grandparent who is dying, as their reason for taking short-notice annual leave.

If you are looking for advice on holiday scheduling, read our article: How to Manage Holiday and Vacation in the Contact Centre

Reframe Your Conversations to Meet Stakeholder Needs

Also keep in mind that the secret to getting buy-in is to try to understand what a stakeholder really wants from the project first, so when you’re discussing what needs to be done, you can shape the conversation accordingly.

If you can adapt and target your stakeholders with the information they really want to know, it can make the world of difference to getting their support.

For example, if you’re talking to Finance, shape the benefits around the cost savings of the proposed changes, or if you’re talking to Operations, showcase how it’s going to make a team leader’s life easier.

If you can adapt and target your stakeholders with the information they really want to know, it can make the world of difference to getting their support.

3. Network With Planning Managers Outside of Your Contact Centre

Resource planning is quite a niche role within a business, so you may feel very isolated at times. This is why it’s great to network and get external support from other resource planners.

So go on LinkedIn, to events, and join membership organizations (like The Forum) to build your network. So long as you don’t encroach on a competitor, you can generally find a lot of people to connect with and learn from.

4. Reduce Duplicated Effort by Integrating Your WFM and Payroll System

Choosing to integrate your WFM with HR’s payroll system is a project that can drive significant improvement – collaborating with IT, HR, and Operations to create the link between the two systems.

This integration can eliminate the need for duplicate holiday and absence updates, overtime submissions, and manual payroll updates.

5. Put a Test Team in Place Ahead of Rolling Out a New System

When rolling out a new system, invite a handful of colleagues to get involved before you officially go live.

For example, we had a period of about six weeks where we had a test team in place on the new WFM system so that we could see how the system worked and iron out any teething problems in advance. This helped to make the official launch much smoother.

The added benefit of this approach was that it widened the support team and people ‘in the know’ for the launch of the new system.

These people became “super-users,” and we were able to use their expertise to support the larger roll-out to all agents, ensuring that help was available seven days a week.

6. Invest in Your Team’s Development

Mentor, coach, and develop your team members. Encourage them to take professional qualifications, establish a culture in which their accomplishments are acknowledged, and make sure they are supported at difficult times so they can learn from their mistakes.

Also, make a conscious effort to expose junior members of the team to the strategic goals of the business by involving them in any budget and bidding processes, as well as roll-outs of new systems.

Looking to freshen up your contact centre coaching programme? Read our article: 16 Customer Service Training Ideas – With Activities, Games and Helpful Techniques

7. Trend Analysis Reporting

In summary, always be proactive and look for new ways to support the business!

For example, through trend analysis reporting, I discovered that attrition for agents who had only been with the company for a short time was increasing, and that retaining new talent was becoming increasingly challenging.

Tim Milburn, Planning Manager at emovis
Tim Milburn

This prompted a comparison of salary and benefits to those of similar customer service contact centres in the area and resulted in the board approving a salary rise for frontline agents, as well as increasing their holiday allowance too.

Contributed by: Tim Milburn, Planning Manager at emovis, and Gold Winner of Resource Planning Manager of the Year at the UK National Contact Centre Awards 2023

If you want to know more about contact centre resource planning, you should read these articles next:

Author: Guest Author
Reviewed by: Xander Freeman

Published On: 11th Dec 2023
Read more about - Workforce Planning, , , ,

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