The Importance of Real-Time Management to Workforce Management
Updated: Feb 7, 2022
"No combat strategy survives contact with the enemy," stated WWI German field commander Helmuth von Moltke. In the same vein, "the best-laid personnel plan rarely survives contact with staff or customers."
According to Moltke, a leader's major responsibility is to prepare for all conceivable outcomes. In an operational setting, forecasting, capacity planning, and scheduling work together to deliver as many potential possibilities as feasible. But to achieve world-class workforce management outcomes, an operation must be able to tactically manage remedial measures and plan refinement. This is the primary goal of having a real-time management team and being the eyes and ears of the planning cycle (RTM Team).
Let's examine the usual RTM Team's primary deliverables in greater detail:
Respond to escalating recognized service dropouts by applying immediate corrective pre-mapped contingency strategies.
Manage intra-day shift changes (including training, coaching, meetings, 1-2-1s, and breaks) that benefit the business. The idea is that tactical change must have a positive or neutral business impact on financial, customer value, process, or people factors - otherwise, it is not business.
Time banking (adding or removing hours from the schedule) if annualized hour contracts are available.
Adapt holiday quotas to corporate needs. Holiday management is best managed using a WFM system. However, there will be situations when flexing holiday quotas strategically can benefit the firm. Additionally, authorizing an escalated holiday request (for example, for family reasons) may be the correct thing to do despite a short-term service hit.
Monitor and report on plan/schedule. You can spend hours developing a forecast, scheduling to match the expected workload, or capacity planning to ensure you have enough people. But if you can't count on agents showing up, most of this is pointless.
Your field officers are your real-time management teams. They exist to guarantee that the plan is executed smoothly or react when reality deviates from it. Also, this is often overlooked; the real-time management team can be the planning cycle's eyes and ears. Numerical variance provides a one-dimensional picture. While the RTM team can frequently fill in the gaps and help understand the "WHY" of the discrepancy.