• July 1, 2016
  • By Donna Fluss, president, DMG Consulting

Workforce Management’s Best Years Lie Ahead

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Companies are operating omnichannel servicing environments and need solutions to help them balance their various channels to ensure customers receive a consistently outstanding level of service regardless of the medium. WFM is the key to success, but allocating time in blocks to various channels is no longer the preferred approach. Contact centers need agents who can comfortably move from one channel to another, and their WFM solution must be able to keep up as well. Channel support remains a differentiator in the market, even though it’s a must-have feature in today’s dynamic servicing world. WFM needs are becoming more complex and essential as companies break down the walls between their front- and back-end servicing departments to improve the customer journey and increase company productivity.


Complexity is no longer a sign of sophistication in the world of WFM. Companies need omnichannel and multinational WFM solutions that competently handle domestic and international work rules and can be managed on a centralized basis. End users want workflow and predefined work rules to automate tasks that previously required human intervention. They are asking vendors to simplify their work effort via enhanced user interfaces that streamline processes. The market is at the beginning of a much-needed revolution in WFM user experience, and the next few years will see the delivery of vastly improved solutions. These solutions will reduce the administrative burden on WFM specialists, line supervisors, and managers.


Intraday capabilities are finally taking hold in WFM solutions, and the beneficiaries are end-user organizations that now have flexible and mobile-enabled tools to allow them to take corrective action when conditions change during the day. The new intraday management applications alter the scheduling landscape by allowing employees to take an active role in handling their own schedules. These tools are also helping to bridge the gap between front- and back-office departments, which will help to reduce operating costs and improve the customer journey. The new generation of intraday management tools is also helping to change the way that front- and back-office departments interact with one another and with customers. We’re at the beginning of what could be a major change in service strategy for many organizations.


When it comes to WFM, most of the R&D effort continues to be dedicated to improving the fundamentals: forecasting and scheduling. Vendors are investing in efforts to enhance algorithms to improve accuracy and reduce staffing costs, as this remains the traditional purpose of WFM solutions. But as business complexity increases, it is becoming harder and more expensive to “on-board” employees, which is spurring the need for tools that improve long-term planning. Long-term-planning capabilities represent a major area of opportunity for most of the WFM solutions, and they need a major overhaul.


The market needs a new generation of WFM solutions that are designed to optimize employee choice, schedule flexibility, and agent self-empowerment. The shifting paradigm will challenge the established science of WFM and current management thinking, but implementing new solutions and approaches is a necessity for enterprises that want to be employers of choice. The real reason WFM vendors are finally investing in their solutions, however, is so they can win a piece of the emerging back-office and branch opportunity. Regardless of the motive, the WFM market is finally delivering better solutions, and the market is receptive.

Donna Fluss (donnafluss@dmgconsult.com) is founder and principal of DMG Consulting, a provider of contact center and analytics research, marketing analysis, and consulting.

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