Purchasing a workforce management system (WFM system) requires significant investment, but it’s a price readily paid by many contact centres in light of the benefits that effective WFM systems can deliver. But the gap between realised benefits and those promised in the supporting business case can be wildly, and disappointingly, disparate. Unfortunately, it’s easy to find half of your potential benefits of a WFM system out of reach before you’ve even turned the system on, and you may not even realise it!
A Perfect Start
Imagine the vendor’s response to a tender you’ve published for a new WFM system that stipulates the need to meet 60 mandatory business requirements.
The vendor’s proposal indicates compliance with 100% of the specified business requirements. So on face value, their solution will deliver 100% of the benefit your supporting business case has promised. A perfect start to your project! But who wants to pay 100% of the solution’s price?
In Search of Savings
When looking for price reductions, the proposal items listed as optional modules are the first to come under scrutiny. And for many workforce management suites, Real Time or Schedule Adherence modules often fall within this category.
Out of the original 60 business requirements you specified, the Adherence module has been called upon in response to just three (5%) of them. However, its price tag represents 20% of the total purchase price. Sounds like an easy decision: drop the Adherence module, retain 95% of the functional requirements, and reduce the solution cost by a full 20%.
But Here’s the Catch!
A WFM system will struggle to realise the benefits of a great forecast and schedule if it can’t influence staff to work when they are needed! In isolation, Adherence modules are meaningless, but when working in conjunction with accurate forecasts and tight schedules they can dramatically increase your ability to have the right number of Agents, in the right place, at the right time.
There’ll always be variance from one site to another, but it is not uncommon for up to 50% of a WFM system’s benefit to be tied directly to Schedule Adherence.
Putting Numbers to It
Putting numbers to this scenario, a WFM system for a 100 seat contact centre would be priced at approximately $90k, of which $18k will be attributed to the Adherence module.
In a contact centre of this size, without an Adherence module, you would typically expect Schedule Adherence to run at approximately 80%. This translates into 1 in every 5 minutes of scheduled phone work either not occurring, or occurring when it’s not scheduled. With an Adherence module in place, a 90% result can be reasonably expected within a couple of months. This 10% lift in Schedule adherence represents the equivalent of putting an extra 7 Agents, or $420k per year in Agent costs, onto the phones when they’re needed!
Even if half of the time Agents where spending out of adherence was covering the out of adherence time of others, you’re still looking at giving up a $210k per year benefit for the sake of a $18k cost reduction in the initial purchase price.
The Product and Not the Sum of its Parts
Unfortunately, the overall performance of a WFM system is not a function of the sum of its parts, but the product of it. Their benefit is often not fully realised unless each functional component provides an effective bridge to the next.
Adherence modules are just one of the many optional modules available for WFM systems. Other common modules include Performance Management, Report Customisation, Agent Messaging, and a multitude of integration options. All of these options come at a price, but make sure you’ve thoroughly investigated their contribution to benefits before you drop them from the purchase price.
I would love to hear your thoughts on WFM systems and their optional modules. Have you encountered a similar situation with other contact centre technologies? And remember, while your contact centre is responsible for the final purchase decision; it can certainly seek a second opinion from an industry expert first!
Jason Metcalfe, QPC Solutions Manager