Workforce Management (WFM) Best Practices
Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Reading Time: 3 minutes.
One of the most exciting but challenging things about having a career in workforce management was that there was very little out there that could help me learn the job when I first started out. As a result, most people fall into the position, not knowing much about it, and are forced to learn on the job by experiment. More recently, professional bodies like The Forum, GWFM, and the SWPP have been excellent in providing content, seminars, & accreditation that have provided workforce management professionals with a foundation that has made learning the job much easier today.
That said, there will be multiple times during our lifetime career when we will find ourselves in a new role with a new company. This is the perfect opportunity to ask 'stupid' questions, listen with a purpose, understand the environment from a place of "where they have been, where they are, and where they want to go", and the #1 rule ~ assume nothing. Another significant part about starting a new job is that you get the chance to apply all those quick wins you have learned elsewhere. I have found myself switching companies several times, and I have yet to find one company that has not highly customized parts of their workforce management process. Some even had ways of working in place since the beginning, despite not making sense for the modern contact center.
Time pressures are often the most significant barrier. Very few workforce management teams are not flat-out busy. In fact, I would challenge any workforce management team that is not busy to ask themselves whether they are innovative enough. Culture and mindset also have a lot of say, with the words we use to describe others' practices reflecting whether this is a deep-rooted belief or just an occasional one-off. For example, when referring to best practices, are terms such as transfer, replicate, emulate, duplicate, translate, benchmark, roll out, propagate, or disseminate used? Or are words like employ, imitate, evangelize, clone, copy, and shamelessly steal instead used?
While starting out in a new job is a perfect opportunity to apply the best practice you have learned elsewhere, it does not have to stop there.
Capturing and reusing best practice knowledge is already widely identified as one of the most effective ways of taking any process or way of working to the next level. Moreover, you don't have to start as an expert in that practice to benefit from it.
So what are the best ways of discovering and managing best practices in the context of workforce management...
Identify Requirements: start by considering where one can add value, looking at what areas need attention. For example, who will benefit the most from better knowledge and understanding of good practices? How will they access and use these?
Discover Best Practices: There are several ways to identify best practices. One way is to examine individuals and groups that deliver excellent results and thus are likely to use good practices. Having discovered these, next discern what parts of their overall approach or methodology represent good practice. This is best achieved by speaking to people within an organization who knows the relevant procedure. This is where having a solid network comes in handy.
Document The Practices: Good practice descriptions should be kept in a database and include the following:
A brief abstract about the practice can accompany a short title.
Several short sections outlining what processes, functions, were applied.
Where was this practice applicable? What problems does did it solve?
What resources and skills were needed to carry out the procedure?
What are the processes and steps involved? Are performance measures associated with the practice?
What proved difficult? What would the person you spoke to do differently if they were to do it again?
Any Tools and Techniques used in developing the practice.