Implementing a workforce-management system within an organization is a great opportunity to analyze and re-think current operational processes across departments with a new eye so as to gain efficiency − not only in terms of staffing costs, but also in terms of processes.
It’s very common that questions arise during workshops with our WFM consultants; not only about the WFM system per se, but also about why things happen the way they do in a customer’s organization: e.g. why do we get people to start at 8:00 or 9:00, and not at 8:30? Why do we validate holidays before simulating resource allocation or hourly staff? A typical answer is that it’s been done that way for a long time: That’s how it’s always been done.
The limits of these processes are known, yet are still less risky than implementing new processes. The latter could potentially prove beneficial in the long term; however, the effort to set it up is viewed as an obstacle to starting up.
When taken to a higher level, the discussion becomes particularly interesting, with the main topic focused on the goals that the organization wishes to achieve. Rather than help gain operational efficiency, replicating a system’s current models during times of organizational growth could potentially bring constraints.
Workforce-management (WFM) tools should therefore be primarily used to support an organization in producing and communicating schedule: this is its core role. However, WFM tools should also be used to help in decision-making when identifying areas of improvement for processes.
It would be beneficial to involve people from different departments to ask questions, help with communication and raise awareness about the potential wins of WFM during some of these WFM deployment meetings. This would avoid the start of rumors circulating, which may increase resistance to change. In this way, it could be argued that, for example, implementing a WFM system doesn’t always mean lay-offs, that it could be utilized to diversify agents’ skills and personal development via training or to even out the load at peak times, thereby improving the work atmosphere.
Many studies and extensive literature offer diverse methods and smooth approaches as to how to drive change in organizations and achieve objectives. A number of key recommendations include:
- Forming a strong WFM team that consists not only of resource planners but also other members of the organization, who, intrigued by the project, help spread the word and put the WFM project in the limelight;
- Being open to new approaches;
- Raising awareness and curiosity in the organization by highlighting that ‘it’ is now happening;
- Communicating across clusters and teams normally working on the same processes but who, for the “sake of efficiency,” don’t always communicate directly;
- Measuring improvements;
- Adopting a step-by-step approach with smooth, transitional phases that minimize abrupt changes as well as note and reward any minor improvement;
- Valuing achieved experiences.
For further information about driving change / Change Management, we also recommend taking a look at the work of Dr. John Kotter and his eight-step process for leading change.