Enhancements include advanced shift and request bidding, and the integration of in-house and outsourced staff schedules.
Posted Mar 18, 2005
Aspect Communications has unveiled the latest version of its workforce management software suite, Aspect eWorkforce Management version 6.3, amidst increasing activity within the contact center space. The new version features enhancements to its Empower module, which concentrates on simplifying schedule bidding and shrinking the processing time required. The software enables agents to bid for things like shift and vacation preferences, holidays, and overtime by automatically prioritizing and processing requests based on standards defined by a system administrator.
According to Paul Stockford, chief analyst at Saddletree Research, shift bidding aligns with what he refers to as Aspect's rallying point this year--empowering agents to take more control of their careers. "It takes the focus away from seniority only," he says "so that highly performing, but relatively junior, agents still have a chance of not having to work every night shift and every weekend shift." There is the risk of upsetting senior agents, but, "if you don't award your up-and-comers, they may never become senior agents. It opens up whole new worlds for rewarding high-performing agents."
The solution's shift-bidding functionality already has grabbed the attention of end-user companies like America West Airlines. Previously, the carrier relied on a manual, labor-intensive process to sift through and handle its shift and request bidding. "It was all done [with] people submitting all of their requests on a piece of paper, and someone having to sit in there and put them in seniority order," says Kim Doody, senior analyst of resource planning and analysis at America West Airlines. The information was then manually entered into an Access database, leaving the carrier with a vacation bidding procedure that took about a month and a half to process. Implementing the solution, however, allows agents to enter their requests using eSchedule Planner, Doody says, "[processing] the requests in only about two days."
Also included in the suite is the second release of Aspect Performance Optimization for eWorkforce Management Enhanced Edition, driven by AIM Technology's AIMCall, allowing users to garner data from external applications such as a CRM solution or a quality monitoring application. Additionally, users can create new KPIs and dashboards, using data collected from disparate sources.
Along with functionality enhancements to already existing components, the solution features a new, optional module (Encompass) aimed at contact centers using outsourcing to handle peak-time call volume. Contact centers and outsourcers can share and exchange data on outsourced agents to ensure adequate staffing. The ability to allow two workforce management systems to work together to create a single schedule, according to Stockford, will be attractive not only to companies using outsourced resources, but to those engaging in mergers and acquisitions. "When you're working with outsourcers you've got to schedule separate workforces, and up until this point it has been a very manual process making the two schedules work together," he says. "When there is a merger or an acquisition...a percentage of the time it won't be as simple as both call centers having the same workforce management software."
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