• November 1, 2005
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Consulting Workforce Woes

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After investing one year and $800,000 in an incumbent product, Bud Jordan, a partner in Accenture's Contact Center Transformation division, needed to find a replacement for it. All told, the rollout would affect about 6,500 agents spread across three India-based call centers. With multiple sites Jordan realized that real-time management, the ability to track staff productivity, scheduling, and utilization instantly, would be the key criterion in selecting a different vendor. "Our first product was selected by non--contact center people," he says. "They didn't understand the fact that we were going to grow, with multiple sites. They selected a product that was relatively good on the report side, but not very good on the planning and execution side of workforce management." For Jordan, executive buy-in would not be easy coming on the heels of the previous, failed implementation. "I had to do a deep business case to justify replacing an $800,000 product that wasn't working for us. My back was against the wall. Fortunately, there were enough external forces saying Accenture couldn't get to where it wanted to go with what we had." In addition, Accenture had requirements representative of their predominantly Indian workforce. Unlike the workforce of North American call centers, most people in India don't have cars so call centers in India bus employees to and from work. The result is teams of 12 to 20 workers arriving, taking breaks, and leaving at the same time. "They do that for transportation reasons," Jordan says. "If we had to build parking to support all these people, the cost would be too high. Plus, it's a cultural thing." Accenture started the selection process in April 2004. Jordan categorized potential vendors based on their product's strength and functionality in such areas as analysis and interactive planning. After reviewing the list of potential vendors, Accenture selected IEX's TotalView Workforce Management system in August 2004. FutureSoft, an India-based support organization, implemented the IEX application. Initially, the schedule didn't meet Accenture's timeline. FutureSoft was planning a two- to three-month deployment, taking "little steps along the way," Jordan says. Started in December, the rollout was completed by New Year's Eve in all three contact centers. "We had them compress the time frame into three weeks," Jordan says. "They did a great job of meshing their content knowledge into our schedule." The results became apparent immediately. By the end of the first week following the implementation, call center managers at all three sites were receiving schedules and cost forecasts via TotalView. Since December of 2004 agent use has increased by 30 to 40 percent. Agent occupancy, or having the right agents in the right place at the right time, has increased from 45 percent in December to an average of 85. "We now have multisite management capabilities, and the ability to access and deliver enterprise reporting," Jordan says. "Any manager can see how each site is running in comparison to the other two. The implementation was a great success." The Payoff By implementing IEX TotalView Workforce Management systems, Accenture has:
  • seen agent occupancy increase more than 40 percent;
  • increased agent utilization by 30 percent; and
  • generated real-time schedules and forecasts.
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