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Article : Workforce Management Software – Three Important Questions!

The past ten years have seen significant advancement in the field of workforce management. The solutions have expanded their features to meet the ever increasing complexity of modern contact center environments. Features like agent self service, messaging and outsource management modules are all adding more and more value to workforce management solutions. It is exciting to watch the products grow, but we can become distracted by these "new" components and lose sight of the key business drivers that have made workforce management solutions indispensible to contact centers.

There are three important questions that should always be in the mind of analysts or call center managers that are at the core of effective workforce management practices. Effective workforce management is about consistently delivering your targeted grade of service and managing the cost of providing that service. Three questions will keep you focused on meeting these primary objectives and will keep you looking out for your customers and the bottom line of your business.

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How much work is there to do?
Your workforce management application must be able to accurately forecast and dimension the upcoming workload. Workforce management applications generally rely on history to create models that can accurately predict volume and average handling time by skill, queue or activity. If you cannot accurately predict and properly dimension the workload by day, week and month, it is pretty unlikely that your service level objectives will be met.

Not all applications are equal in this regard and it would serve you well to understand exactly the core forecasting functionality of your solution or the products you may be considering for your business. The forecasting features must be evaluated against your business requirements. Here are some examples of why it is important to understand the forecasting approach that is applied.

Some forecasting models use moving averages of your history to create forecast for the future. They might use the most previous ten or fifteen weeks of history. You may be able to weight those weeks. Averages have limits. If you are on a steep call curve in either direction an average tends to lag the actual. So you need to be able to build in more aggressive numbers. If the application you are evaluating uses a "static" or average forecasting approach, you need to see how that is going to perform in your business. If you have high volatility this might not be your best option.

Other models may use a "dynamic" forecasting model to create the forecast. This means that rather than using a moving or weighted average of some number of weeks you can specify exactly which weeks you would like to use to forecast say an upcoming like week. For instance you could use the first week of every month for the past ten months to forecast the first week of next month. This could be pretty handy in certain business environs.

Other models enable you to create forecast based on date ranges. Date range forecasting enables an analyst to use the data from the first quarter of last year’s history to forecast this year’s workload and conveniently add ten percent over the top.

What if nothing in your history reflects what you know is going to happen next? If you are company that is growing by acquisition and next week you are going to turn on a volume that is simply not in history, it would be important to be able to either easily manipulate existing data to transform into more relevant data. That data probably exists, but is not in the history. So ideally the ability to upload that data is an important feature for a business managing this kind of growth.

Ideally you should be able to call upon whatever method suits your purpose. Some products support exactly this scenario so it is critical that you understand the limits of the forecasting tools within the applications you have or are evaluating. Accurate forecasting is crucial to customer satisfaction and for creating a schedule that controls the cost of providing great service.

How many people do we need to do the work at a designated grade of service?
Workforce management enthusiasts tend to want to look at this number in several ways. Your accurate forecast tells you how many hours of work there are to accomplish in each daily interval, day, week etc. First it is important to understand how many people we need to staff in order to do the work in pure work terms. The Figure 1 chart shows the forecasted workload and the resulting heads needed to complete that work at a designated grade of service for five days in March. The two curves match reflecting the varying arrival of work into the center by day of week. This, of course, is also broken down by time of day, by day of week by your workforce management solution.

Figure 1

We now know that there are 632 staffing hours required in order to deliver our designated grade of service at the forecasted workload. The 632 hours are the result of using Erlang C or some variation that supports multi-skilled requirements generation. If the average hourly wage in the center is $10, the cost of staffing just the pure work is $6,320 for the week.

Next we need to understand how many people need to be staffed in order to accomplish the work given all of the overhead that our contact center experiences. Most call centers average around 30 % shrinkage but that percentage it is highly susceptible to each type of business and culture and can range from 20 to 50 %. Shrinkage factors include late time, sick time, jury duty, meetings, training, lunches etc. In our average shrinkage scenario that means that to utilize 3 agents who are actually processing transactions we must effectively staff just over 4.

It is important to understand just how much this overhead is costing the center in terms of wages. This is a crucial step in managing cost. It is advantageous to break down shrinkage as two distinct categories, discretionary and non-discretionary. These are the items, respectively, that we can control (meetings, training, vacation time, break time) and the elements we cannot control (late time, sick time, unaccounted for time.)

Figure 2

In this scenario we assume approximately 15 % discretionary shrinkage and about 15% non-discretionary shrinkage. The center has had to staff 30 % more hours on top of the pure work to have enough resources "in the chairs" to deliver our targeted grade of service.

We now understand because of shrinkage that we must staff 840 hours this week to meet our service level objectives. We have added 208 hours into the staff plan or $2,080 in payroll expense.

It is easy now to see how crucial it is understood and thus manage shrinkage. It is not cheap! Understanding non-discretionary shrinkage will enable us to better manage agent behavior. This leads us to better agent coaching, management and more effective policies. It also protects the bottom line. Managing the shrinkage we do control, discretionary shrinkage, leads us to our next question.

How can we optimize our schedule against the forecast?
Discretionary shrinkage presents opportunity when it comes time to actually create a schedule for the agents. This may sound a little at odds with the lessons learned so far. We need to discuss culture and schedule optimization to better appreciate the comment.

The traditional representation of workforce management software is that the algorithms optimize the schedules against the forecast, thus saving you thousands of dollars in payroll related expenses. That is a good thing right? Yes, but that is not exactly how most call centers operate.

The cultures of most contact centers result in scheduling practices that usually lean toward satisfying the agents and controlling turnover as opposed to meeting the needs of the business, especially in North America. Most agents are hired into a fixed shift and those are the hours until the end of a bid cycle or until told otherwise. Demand driven schedule optimization then from the perspective of routinely changing start times and changing shift types to meet the needs of the business has been largely eliminated. Optimization takes on a different meaning in this context and it is all about managing shrinkage.

Here is a typical illustration of fixed schedule environment mapped against a forecast or staff plan. Shifts arrive and depart in a typical three wave configuration. We have a total of 65 agents available for scheduling.

Figure 3

You can see that we have over and under staffing due to the fixed schedules of our culture. We can see, using our previous example as simply a reference point, that while the staff plan had a payroll expense of $9,224, the resulting schedule has even more hours than necessary in certain areas and less than required in others. We cannot take hours out where we do not need them, due to our fixed schedule environment, but what we can do is manage shrinkage to maximize the schedule towards the forecasted staff plan.

This is accomplished by using coaching to minimize agent behaviors we cannot control in the areas on non-discretionary shrinkage and optimizing the placement of discretionary shrinkage items like trainings and meetings.

It is essential, before we illustrate this point further, that managers understand the cost associated with the inflexible schedules and be able, if the opportunity presents itself, to develop and adopt better base schedules. The analysts should be presenting this data and analysis to management routinely based on long term forecasting.

Below is our illustration that indicates how we use shrinkage to our advantage to make the most of our fixed schedules. By moving the discretionary shrinkage portion represented by the green line from periods of understaffing to overstaffing we would dramatically improve service in the understaffed areas and we would take full advantage of the cost associated with this schedule and make best use of our resources.

Figure 4

It is easy to see how discretionary shrinkage optimization as opposed to traditional schedule optimization will leverage your overstaffing positions to minimize understaffing. We have not removed hours or expenses from the schedule but we have taken full advantage of the resources at our disposal and increased the level and consistency of service provided to our customers

Contact centers need to be able to forecast the workload accurately. They need to be able to generate headcounts and understand overhead. By understanding shrinkage and the realities available for schedule optimization they can offer more consistent levels of customer service and take full advantage of the cost associated with any schedule, by optimizing shrinkage.

Answering these three questions using your workforce solution will keep you focused on the essential aspects of your workforce management strategy, delivering service and managing cost. It may help develop policies for minimizing and managing non-discretionary shrinkage and provide intelligent choices for moving discretionary shrinkage to more opportune periods in the schedule.

You will be able to more intelligently evaluate practical alternatives that may move your agent behavior to a more flexible environment that controls cost and delivers even more consistent and higher levels of service, while reducing cost. Even if your agents are fixed for life, understanding the dollar value associated with the existing schedules and managing the opportunity within those constraints is a valuable exercise.

There are plenty of exciting features in today’s modern solutions and they are crucial to expanding the role that workforce management plays in the rapidly changing contact center space. Staying focused on core workforce management fundamentals though might just get you noticed or even entrance into the executive conference room.

About CommunityWFM:
Company LogoThe Workforce Management Software Group, Inc. (WFMSG) was founded in 2005 by a team of workforce management experts. WFMSG personnel were deeply engaged with legacy workforce management technologies and deployment approaches for Fortune 500 companies throughout North America and abroad. This expertise was distilled into the modern, cloud-based design of Community, now available in two performance versions, and our steps-to-success deployment and services models.
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About Todd Cotharin:
Todd Cotharin is a Co-founder of The Workforce Management Group, a consulting firm dedicated to workforce management in the contact center. Todd has over 13 years of contact center experience working as a contact center manager for Citibank, working for a WFM software provider, until finally forming WFMG with Daryl Gonos.

Today's Tip of the Day - Brand & Service

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Friday, November 6, 2009

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2021 Buyers Guide Cloud Contact Center Solutions

Page: 123
Premium Listing
NobelBiz Corporation

NobelBiz OMNI+
NobelBiz’s latest product, the OMNI+, is a state-of-the-art contact center software that allows companies – regardless of the number of employees – to offer more efficient, standardized solutions to their clients. With OMNI+ you can manage your accounts on all popular platforms (from voice, to email, social media, and web chat) using a single browser. The software also offers effortless navigation between communication mediums and all customer interactions can be easily monitored by supervisors without interfering in their agent’s work. As far as integration goes, the product can be installed and ready to use in maximum 72 hours and can easily be overlaid in pre-existing infrastructures.
PH: 760.405.0105

Accordia Solution

Accordia Solution CIS
Accordia Solution is an innovative developer of seamlessly integrated cost-effective omnichannel Contact Center Solutions specifically targeted at the micro, small and medium operations.Our core business model involves the development and marketing of IP Telephony and IP Contact Center Solutions. We also strive to develop customer interaction solutions which include contact center and customer relationship management (CRM) that enhances Customer Experience Of The Future (CEOTF) and optimizes agent productivity.

Our flagship product, the Accordia Customer Interaction Suites (CIS), offers comprehensive functionality by helping your business meet and exceed the level of service in line with...
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PH: +603 5569 9816


Genesis Intelligent Series
Genesis is the latest advancement in Amtelco’s long line of call center solutions. This call center technology is entirely software-based and virtualized, with cloud-based capability. Genesis provides skills-based automatic call distribution (ACD), built-in speech recognition, text-to-speech (TTS), and voice services to improve call routing and management.

Arise Virtual Solutions

The Arise Platform
Arise is a pioneer of on-demand customer management business process outsourcing solutions, headquartered in Florida. Through the cloud-based Arise Platform, Fortune 50 and other companies connect to Service Partners who deliver authentic, loyalty-building interactions with their customers. Delivering radical flexibility to meet even extreme contact volume fluctuations, the award-winning Arise Platform is an innovative alternative to the traditional contact center.

Aspect Software

Aspect Via
Aspect Via is the premier large-enterprise cloud contact center platform and solution featuring best-of-breed contact management and workforce optimization applications. Cloud neutral technology enables businesses to choose the cloud, hosted or hybrid deployment environment they prefer.
PH: 1-888-547-2481

Astute Solutions

Astute Agent
Astute Agent gives your agents everything they need to work cases confidently and efficiently. This modern case management CRM is the preferred choice for Consumer Relations and Customer Care teams who support some of the world’s most prestigious brands.

Astute Agent balances agent efficiency with customer experience. Here’s how:

- Automated email responses
Using natural language processing, Astute Agent reads incoming customer emails and automatically supplies a response to agents to review and send.

- Auto-populated case fields
AI capabilities automatically suggest reason codes, product codes, and other case information, saving agents minutes per case.

- Time-saving case feat...
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Britannic Technologies

INBOX allows any digital interaction to be blended into single or multiple queues with zero service interruption with implementation. Organising them by business context with smart tagging and search filters, the events can be automatically prioritised and categorised. Automating the route to the correct agent or business orchestration rule. It also connects with all your social media channels, enabling you to respond and route accordingly in real-time. Customer sentiment is also indicated. Use it to measure trends across your business or by a single event so that your agents can easily prioritise responses.
PH: 01483 242526

Brook Trout Solutions

CCaaS, SIP Trunking, SD WAN, Interconnectivity
Brook Trout Solutions provides Technology Guide services to help Contact Centers to the best possible solution for their business. This includes:
CCaaS: Talk Desk, Five 9s, Nice, Genesys and more
SIP Trunks: Many Global Providers to lower cost and improve operational efficiency
SD WAN: Connect to customers rapidly with the latest network technology to scale with flexibility.
Our service are at no cost to our customers. We look forward to meeting you!
PH: 800-886-9199

Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.
PH: +1 512-872-7565

Call Tracking Metrics

CallTrackingMetrics is the only contact center solution with marketing attribution software built in. Our powerful UCaaS platform lets you know upfront who is calling in, what campaigns they were referencing, and their previous history with your company. Partnering this data with tools to automate and streamline your team’s workflow frees you up to focus on truly delighting your customers.

Conditionally direct calls, texts, chats and forms based on:

• Actions the customer has taken on your website
• Whether they’ve previously contacted your business
• Which agent they last interacted with
• Custom criteria unique to your business needs
• The location nearest to your customer

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PH: 8005771872


Welcome to CallShaper – Harnessing the Power of the Cloud for Greater Sales Efficiency
For sales-based call centers, where margins are so tight, it’s all about closing. Thanks to CallShaper, inbound or outbound call center directors can have a dynamic, highly flexible platform that enables sales agents to focus on making the sale.

Thanks to CallShaper’s flexibility, call center directors who are managing multiple vendors from multiple locations can have everything they need on one platform that offers 99.999% reliability. And when it comes to reporting, CallShaper has no equal in providing real-time transparency.

With CallShaper, clients quickly find that they are better able to manage efficiencies at the sales rep level – and make more money!
PH: 888-276-1370

Cloud Call Center Search

From AI - WFO and everything in between!
Cloud Call Center Search has spent hundreds of hours evaluating and vetting leading cloud software applications (Omni-Channel, Artificial Intelligence, Business Intelligence, Workforce Management and many others) and their actual use in the trenches with real-world clients. As a result, we understand the strengths and weaknesses of cloud-based call center software solutions. At NO charge, Cloud Call Center Search will match your organization with the cloud software providers that are the best fit to drive positive ROI in your customer experience, sales, and back-office operations.
PH: 800-741-2998

Cloud IT Services GmbH

Dialfire offers you a complete call center solution that is simple and intuitive to use and adapts to your needs. It's completely cloud-based, saving you the hassle of setting up a phone system and installing software. In addition to predictive dialing and call blending of inbound calls, you can create personalized campaigns through an intuitive and easy-to-use interface. Features include automated workflows and full control over the agent screen.

You can see the full list of features here:

Connex One

Cloud contact centre technology with built in gamification tools, workforce optimiser, omni-channel, speech analytics, artificial intelligence, quality assurance, PCI-DSS payment platform, form builder and much more features. All seamlessly integrating with almost 100% of your inhouse applications & CRM systems - creating one powerful workflow platform. Increasing productivity, customer engagement, saving you cost. Available in opex model - pay per license per month. No binding contracts with NO cost for 24/7/365 support and full training with built in SLA.
PH: +27 73 485 8072 / +27 61 192 680

Consilium Software

Consilium AWS and Amazon Connect Offering
Imagine a cloud-based contact center that can make customer engagement easy, deliver answers, assistance, and resolutions in a very personal manner, and in the context of your customers’ actions. Amazon Connect is a self-service, cloud-based contact center that provides a seamless omnichannel experience through a single unified platform for voice and chat. Contact center agents and managers don’t have to learn multiple tools, because Amazon Connect has the same contact routing, queuing, analytics, and management tools in a single UI across voice, chat, and mobile interface. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, offering over 175 fully...
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PH: (+61) 406 501 368


Cloud contact software that makes customer contact pain free, so your team aren’t worrying about complex technology and can focus on what they do best. Take control, and design the perfect agent interface with a drag-n-drop visual editor. Combined with AI, leverage data-driven contact strategies to ensure the right agent is contacting your customers at the right time & on the right channel.
PH: +61288803111

Content Guru

Content Guru makes engagement easy. A global leader in cloud communications solutions, we deliver off-the-shelf and bespoke customer engagement and cloud contact centre services, through the multi-award-winning 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺® platform.

Europe’s largest Customer Engagement and Experience platform, 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺, brings together intelligent automation, third-party systems integration, and on-demand scalability to enhance all customer communication functions. With true omni-channel engagement capabilities, 𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝗺 gives organisations the power to create consistent and seamless experiences for customers, inspiring loyalty and powering success.

CSX Cloud

CSX Cloud
CSX Cloud provides a full omnichannel cloud-based turn-key customer communications solution as a service based on a monthly subscription with no long term commitments. Our easy to use solution and top-notch customer service makes it an easy choice to get started today.
PH: 18665474764


Edify Huddle
Edify connects businesses with customers and employees with each other. The company’s Business Communications as a Service (BCaaS) platform, Huddle, is the only one that unites unified communications (UC), contact center (CC) and communications platform (API) functionality in a single software solution that lets users move seamlessly among channels within one conversation. Edify removes all the risk of using its cloud-based platform with five free users forever, global availability, real-time redundancy, usage-based pricing and a 100% SLA uptime guarantee.


Empirix Hammer Cloud
Empirix is the recognized leader of end-to-end contact center test automation and script development solutions on the market. Our renowned product line, Hammer, offers functional, regression, systems integration, performance, and customer experience testing for on premises, hybrid, and cloud environments. We also offer work-from-home test solutions to ensure continuity of experience for your customers across any environment.

Hammer Cloud Platform (HCP) is Empirix’s new comprehensive, test automation offering that integrates functional, regression, systems integration, performance, and customer experience testing into an intuitive, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution.

With HCP, it’s...
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PH: +1 978 313 7000
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