This Workforce Management Reference Guide is a comprehensive collection of information on workforce management (WFM).
The Purpose of Our Workforce Management Reference Guide
Our Workforce Management Reference Guide is designed to be your central point of information when looking for anything related to contact centre WFM or resource planning.
With our collection of great content within the field, we wanted to create an easy way for you to access all of our WFM insights.
So, just scroll down to the WFM topic that is of most interest to you and you will find a series of helpful articles, podcasts and webinars.
These pieces of content range from the very basics of WFM to the latest technical insights from industry experts, who have worked with some of the worlds leading contact centres.
In fact, this reference guide is split into many different sections that examine the many aspects of WFM, with shortcuts to each sections included in the list below:
- WFM Basics
- WFM Tools
- WFM – Forecasting
- WFM – Scheduling and Shift Planning
- WFM Podcasts
- WFM Metrics
- WFM and Workforce Optimisation
- The WFM Team
- WFM Considerations
- WFM Webinars
- WFM Extra Tips
In the articles listed below, we introduce the fundamentals of contact centre WFM, which you need to know, before moving onto the more complex areas of WFM.
We share the meaning of WFM, discussing all of the duties that a WFM manager would have to oversee when working in the contact centre.
The central part of any WFM professional’s job is to calculate how many advisors are needed in the contact centre at any one time. This article details every little step needed to make this calculation.
John Casey, a Resource Planning Expert, introduces us the resource planning cycle, to help simplify your WFM thinking. (Resource planning is a term used interchangeably with WFM).
In this article, we dissect the four key areas of WFM; forecasting, scheduling, monitoring and reviewing – sharing five fundamental rules for each.
Do you want to know why spreadsheets may be holding back your WFM plans? Or maybe how new WFM tools can help you out? This article answers both of these common questions and more.
We provide ten fundamental pieces of advice that are really helpful to keep in mind when embarking on any WFM-related process.
Here is a collection of case studies from well-known organisations detail how they approached the implementation of WFM software to better meet their goals.
We discuss some of the most basic applications of WFM, discussing how regularly each technique is used in the contact centre and the benefits of applying each.
Whether it’s simple spreadsheets or complicated third party software, there are many WFM tools that contact centre planners need to know. These articles identify which tools may work best in your contact centre.
This article looks at the various stages of WFM – forecasting, scheduling, intraday etc. – discussing which WFM tools prove most useful within each WFM “arena”.
Our panel of experts share their thoughts regarding the WFM tools and techniques that every WFM professional should be made aware of.
Our panel of experts look into many of the useful features that come with third-party WFM systems, which could provide great benefits to your contact centre.
To avoid making the same mistakes yourself, make sure that you read this article and be better prepared to install WFM tools in your contact centre.
Here we provide a collection of tips for better utilizing your contact centre WFM tools, to gain maximum benefit from your software installation.
In this article we present research across all different sizes of contact centres to gather even more best practices for installing WFM tools.
WFM expert Simon Angove shares his advice for planning for the implementation WFM software, to better forecast, optimise schedules and empowering employees.
This is a listing of reputable WFM vendors that will provide many of the tools that have been discussed in each of these articles.
WFM – Forecasting
Forecasting is the first phase of any WFM process, as it is the method of estimating how many contacts you’ll receive at certain points in time – a topic that we go into great detail on, in each of the articles below.
We introduce some of the basics of forecasting, before going into much greater depth in sharing a process for forecasting, using Excel Spreadsheets, in the contact centre.
This article looks into the four leading models of creating contact centre forecasts, gaining insights from industry experts and university professors for the particularly sophisticated examples.
Forecast accuracy is the metric that helps you to determine the success of your forecasting calculations and this article delves into how you can go about measuring this crucial metric.
Forecasting can heavily rely on historical data. But, what will you do if you’re forecasting for a new contact centre or a new channel? This article gives you the answer.
Gemma Caddick, an experienced Forecast Analyst, introduces us to the three timelines that you need to put together when creating contact centre forecasts.
Our panel of experts highlight key ways in which you can improve your forecast, taken from real-life experiences in supporting contact centres.
With more great advice from John Casey, we look at one of the more difficult channels to forecast in the contact centre, providing a strategy for planning on Live Chat.
We had real-life WFM practitioners write into us and explain how they increased forecast accuracy in their contact centre and we compiled our favourite 25.
In the style of a Q&A, we discuss many of the hot topics surrounding contact centre forecasting, finding lots of new, interesting trends.
Philip Stubbs introduces us to a technique called “Linear Regression”, which allows you to create forecasts based on sales projections.
With the contact centre taking on an increasing number of channels, the WFM team is constantly being expected to adjust its practices. This article shares some key advice for doing so.
We investigate the relationship between adherence and forecasting, which is key to understand as a WFM planner, to improve both your forecasting and scheduling.
Not only do we have lots of advice for contact centre forecasting, we also have our own tools to help you do so, which – although is at an experimental stage – is already providing promising results.
WFM – Scheduling and Shift Planning
Armed with your forecasts, it’s time to create your schedules. Here’s all of our best advice for helping you do so, with great tips for optimising your shift patterns and schedules.
We introduce you to the trials and tribulations of contact centre scheduling and suggest why it is not as simple as it may seem at first glance.
This article introduces the basics of shift planning, including where it fits into your WFM strategy and how it can be better used as a tool to increase employee engagement.
WFM expert Keith Gait shares his favourite shift patterns to use in the contact centre, with the hope of improving efficiency and advisor morale.
Our panel of experts share their thoughts on managing multi-skilled agents in the contact centre, to better improve your WFM processes.
With contact centres constantly being told to reduce costs and increase efficiency, this metric helps you to analyse where you are over overstaffing or understaffing – so you need to know to measure it!
Good scheduling can often be the key to employee engagement. This article will show you the five things that you need to have in your schedules to unlock this extra engagement.
We investigate how contact centres can successfully schedule agents across multiple channels, with lots of helpful advice that can boost your WFM plans.
Our readers share a selection of quick tips that they have found really beneficial in terms of improving their contact centre scheduling procedures.
We get lots of advice from WFM expert Dougie Cameron on how to lower schedule dissatisfaction and provide advisors with a better work-life balance.
We went back to our readers to gain even more of their WFM advice, this time about increasing schedule efficiency and lowering absenteeism.
This article contains the brilliant thoughts of WFM leaders, each sharing how they have had success in increasingly flexibility, within certain shift patterns, while working with leading contact centres.
Our panel of experts discuss some tried and tested methods for improving schedules, from simplify shift swaps to rethinking your use of shift patterns.
Schedules only work well when your people stick to them, so we created a series of tips for how you – as the WFM team – can support the contact centre in keeping advisors on schedule.
Here at Call Centre Helper, we don’t solely rely on articles to engage our readership, we also produce podcasts like the two below.
These example was created especially to engage the WFM community of planners.
In this episode, John Casey shares great advice to his fellow WFM professionals by discussing how to prevent and manage periods of unexpectedly high contact volumes in the call centre.
In this episode, Doug Casterton gives key pieces of advice, learned through great experience, in how to increase resource planning efficiency and employee engagement.
If you don’t have specialised WFM software, an Erlang Calculator is what you will no doubt be using as a key part of your resource planning practice.
An Erlang Calculator is a device that allows you to calculate the number of advisors in the contact centre that you need to meet a forecasted number of calls, as well as a given service level and target occupancy.
But, there is much more to this useful tool than what meets the eye…
For those who may not be familiar with the Erlang Calculator, this article gives you a complete introduction into its simple calculations and the history of Erlang.
This guide to Erlang Calculations, shows you how an Erlang Calculator is best used, with other advice such as common mistakes to avoid.
Now this is something special. This our version of the Erlang Calculator itself, which we frequently update to ensure that it is the most accurate, free tool out there.
Do you want to understand the logic behind the Erlang Calculator? Well, this article teaches you how to understand and apply the Erlang C formula to the contact centre.
If you are using the Erlang Calculator, then this article will likely prove to be very useful for you, so you can better understand the logic behind your staffing results.
The Erlang A formula is something else entirely, but it can still be useful for WFM professionals to understand, as this article details.
To better quantify the success of our forecasting, scheduling and/or Erlang Calculations, we need to be measuring a series of metrics, like those articulated in the articles below.
Here is a quick compilation, as put together by our panel of experts, of all the metrics (otherwise known as KPIs) that you need to be tracking as a WFM team.
Justin Robbins, a well-respected industry expert, discusses how benchmarking metrics in contact centres works. This can be a useful tool for WFM professionals to measure the success of new strategies.
This article shares a formula for service level, alongside other advice for calculating this key WFM metric in the contact centre.
Using our own original research, we assess the most common service levels in contact centres across a number of different channels, such as the phone, email, live chat and social media.
AHT is the backbone in of any staffing calculation, so you need to know how to calculate it. Luckily, this article shows you how to do just that.
For your WFM plans and schedules to be effective, advisors need to adhere to schedules. This article will show you how to measure the metric and see how well advisors are sticking to your plans.
Occupancy is another key input into the Erlang Calculator and this article will give you all the knowledge that you need to calculate a percentage occupancy for your contact centre.
As a WFM planner, you need to know all of your business costs considerations. Utilisation is a key metric here and you can find out how to calculate it in this article.
The calculations for occupancy and utilisation are often confused, but this article helps allay any such misunderstandings, clearly separating the two metrics in terms of definition and calculation.
This article not only gives you a formula for calculating attrition in the contact centre, but also expert advice for lowering it from Dougie Cameron.
Martin Jukes, an experienced industry expert, gives a step-by-step guide for calculating and reducing absenteeism in the contact centre, to ensure WFM plans are properly carried-out.
Is your service level appropriate for your contact centre? You can find this out and much more by calculating call abandon rate, as shown in this article.
This article helps us to calculate how quickly customers are leaving your organisation, which enables us to calculate lifetime value and measure business performance.
WFM and Workforce Optimisation
Workforce optimisation (WFO) is a topic that links in very well with WFM and planners should keep up to date with the latest in the field, including insights included in the articles below.
After defining what is meant by next generation WFO, this article goes into great detail to explain how contact centres are employing technology to improve WFM.
If you’re interested in employing a WFO solution, this is the article for you, as it details all of the great features that you should look out for, within your new system.
Our readers share their tips for optimising WFM in the contact centre, with tips ranging from improving schedules and forecasts to handling tricky peak management scenarios.
Are you looking for even more tips for optimising WFM from real-life practitioners? Well then, this article might just be what you’re looking for.
The WFM Team
Are you looking for insights into the role that WFM teams plays in the contact centre overall? Well then, each of the following four articles will likely be able to provide you with the answers that you are looking for.
We share a whole host of original research that looks into how different WFM teams operate in different contact centres and how many of their priorities and responsibilities change.
Douglas Jackson and Cactus Search, two well-respected recruiters that specialise in contact centres, share examples of jobs descriptions for Contact Centre WFM Managers.
We take you through some of the challenges of planning for homeworkers, before putting forward some practical solutions for how to overcome them.
Our panel of experts share their advice for gaining organisational buy-in for WFM technology, that will make your job as a Resource Planner much less complex.
There’s a lot more to WFM than just forecasting and scheduling. Just take a look at some of the topics discussed in the articles below, for example.
80/20 is the traditional service level that many contact centres stick to as a WFM principle. Yet, this article investigates whether or not this 80/20 mark may be the best target for your contact centre.
We take a look at the optimum time to publish contact centre shifts, taking into account the various natures of different contact centres, in order to balance efficiency with employee engagement.
To best action our WFM plans, we have lots of real-time considerations that we may need to make, across the course of the day. This article may prove helpful in better informing these decisions.
When contact volumes are not as expected, WFM planners need to know the optimal moment to bring in reinforcement. This article shares some helpful advice for knowing when to make this critical decision.
There are many misconceptions surrounding WFM, which Simon Angove unpicks in this article, as he looks at what is holding contact centres back, in terms of resource planning.
We delve in to the tricky topic of better managing peaks in contact volumes, with expert advice from Greg Aiello, an expert in all things contact centre operations.
Mike Smith and Chris Middlemass of Domestic & General share their wealth of WFM knowledge in discussing how we can better plan for those seasonal peaks and troughs in contact volumes.
We take a look at the difficulties of planning for an outbound contact centre, before suggesting how certain WFM tools can potentially make your job much easier.
Andy Turner introduces us to adherence management, along with sharing lots of great advice for getting your people to stick to their schedules.
We have articles, podcasts and – of course – our revered webinar programme, in which we regularly cover topics related to WFM. Just take a look at the three examples below.
WFM experts John Casey and Paul Chance give presentations on the best ways to schedule advisors, to increase the quality of your WFM plans as well as employee engagement.
John Casey returns for another WFM webinar, with fellow experts Ric Kosiba and our Editor Jonty Pearce, who discuss the many lessons that WFM professionals often have to learn the hard way.
In this webinar we share the thoughts of four industry experts on how to get more from your WFM spreadsheets, focusing especially on those that you use for forecasting.
WFM Extra Tips
Everyone loves a good listicle, so let’s finish off by presenting the rest of our well-received articles that contain lots of tips covering all areas WFM.
Doug Casterton, a leading contact centre Workforce Management (WFM) Manager, shares 50 of his favourite tips that he has learned through many years of experience within the field.
Doug Casterton returns by popular demand, following his previous article, to share 50 more of his best tips for everyone working within the WFM arena.
An old trick to cutting costs is to knock time off AHT, to reduce our staffing requirements. While this can lead to advisors picking up negative behaviours, there are good ways to do this, as suggested in this article.
WFM plans are very dependent on attendance and adherence, so some of these tips might just prove to be the missing link in your WFM plans.
Are your WFM plans not as efficient or engaging as they should theoretically be? If you are committing any of the seven sins discussed in this article, that might just be why…
We hope that this reference guide provides you with everything you need to know to be successful in your contact centre WFM.
With lots of thoughts from leading industry experts crammed into each of these articles, we hope that this guide becomes your go-to place when looking for anything related to WFM and resource planning.
As we constantly update our in-demand Erlang Calculator, we like to keep are finger on the pulse with everything WFM related and we hope to frequently update this page with all the latest WFM insights.
So stay tuned!
First published in April 2010. Recently updated.