Workforce management software is a key component of any well-organized and efficient contact center. A solid workforce management software (WFM) gives agents autonomy and encourages self-service within an organization.
The right program will help propel your company towards its goals by giving agents and managers valuable insight into their daily workflows.
What is workforce management software?
Workforce management software is a tool with several main features that companies use to track all things scheduling-related. It manages and automates scheduling for employees. WFM software generally allows users to view schedules, make time-off requests, and swap shifts.
Forecasting capabilities are also usually a component. This allows managers to have an accurate picture of how many agents are needed on any given day. It helps prevent overstaffing and understaffing.
Overall, workforce management software is a must for any size business. Spreadsheets can be tricky to manage and can be extremely time-consuming. Automating scheduling can be a lifesaver for managers who feel overwhelmed, and can result in a more productive operation.
Which Kind of WFM software is best for my business?
Most contact centers have similar workflows. However, every organization’s operations may have particular nuances. These would be best tackled by various workforce management software features.
Is your contact center in need of a very tedious data producing program that requires users to input several pieces of information? Do your managers prefer a hands-off approach to scheduling? These are some points to consider when looking for the right software.
Sometimes WFM software is available in different versions such as basic or enterprise. As a result, key features you may need could be missing if you purchase the wrong program. Ensure that you take note of the version when selecting a WFM software.
In addition, there are some features that should not be optional within the WFM software you decide to implement into your organization. Below is a list of 10 key components that should be available to you in your WFM software. Keep these in mind and formulate questions to have when you talk to software sales representatives.
WFM software must-have features
- Forecasting: Management teams in contact centers must be able to forecast the number of staff needed each day of the week. If forecasting abilities are not up to par, companies lose money by overstaffing or understaffing.
Workforce management software should include the ability to integrate data from internal and external sources. This can give you important information such as expected call volume and the amount of agents needed on the phones on a given day. The ability to filter categories like skills or shift availability should also be present to make scheduling as accurate as possible.
- Quality Tech Support: Sometimes users run into common software issues that they are unable to resolve on their own. This could easily result into wasted time waiting for a manager or even on hold with a software’s customer support. Look into the type of tech support that your prospective software offers.
Is it free or do you need to pay extra for it? Is your contact center also open overnight? If so, the tech support would ideally be 24/7.
- Self Service Capabilities: Agents should be able to pull up their own schedules through the WFM software. Tasks such as swapping shifts, requesting PTO or sick days, viewing historical timesheet data, and lunch and break tracking should be available for agents to do on their own. This feature also relieves extra work for managers who are already very busy.
When agents can have more control over their schedules, it provides them a boost in confidence by giving them a sense of autonomy. It shows that management trusts them.
Happy employees are essential for any industry. However, this is especially important in the contact center business. Contact centers have a turnover rate of nearly 45%, so ensuring agent satisfaction should be a priority.
- Mobile App: Every up to date piece of software has its own mobile app. These days it is a must. Agents and managers can pull up schedules off site whenever they’d like through a mobile app.
Visibility to your agents’ upcoming shifts has never been faster or easier. Now agents can request time off or pick up overtime with a few quick taps on their phone.
Avoid outdated software that does not have its own app. That could indicate that other features it has aren’t as sophisticated as they should be. This can cause problems down the road.
- Intuitive and User Friendly: Don’t waste hours on training your agents to use complex WFM software. Now there are so many options that are most likely much more efficient and easier to learn to use.
The user interface should have simple-to-understand navigation. Sections like upcoming schedules, settings, or PTO requests need to be visible and clear in what their functions are.
- Data Analytics: A good WFM software will capture data that users provide. Top notch software will capture key data and apply it towards other areas. Schedule adherence, performance management, or compliance are all areas that benefit from accurate data.
A workforce management software rich in data helps upper management make more informed business decisions in the future. Find out what data your prospective WFM software captures and how it does so. Consider the type of data that would be most beneficial to your company.
- Integration Abilities: Always ensure that any new computer program you introduce to your company can communicate with other software already in use. Ideally, having a unified CRM that seamlessly works with other programs and houses various essential functions would be best.
Workforce management software should be able to collect key data from other programs to provide management with accurate and useful analytics.
- Communication Features: WFM software should have a built in notification system that alerts managers about time off requests or absent employees.
It should also be able to provide alerts for agents about things like schedule changes or shift swapping updates.
These types of alerts will generally go to a user’s inbox. You should also have the option to customize the way you get your notifications.
- Compliance Monitoring: Adhering to federal labor laws is extremely important for the health of any company. One mistake in this area could become quite costly for an employer.
The workforce management software you use should absolutely have real-time monitoring. You can automatically ensure that agent schedules and breaks are aligned with labor laws.
Attempting to manually monitor compliance for agent hours can be tedious and exhausting. It can be very easy to make a mistake. Having views into real-time adherence allows employers to prevent mishaps from occurring.
- Demo: Before you commit, ask potential vendors to show you an example of what your company’s scheduling would look like on their platform.
Not all have this option, but it would be ideal to have a first-hand look to ensure that employees are confident about the user interface.
A demo also allows you to confirm that your scheduling operation style fits well within the software before you buy.
Bonus features – payroll & scheduling
This feature is not a necessity but more of a nice-to-have. Some of the latest workforce management software includes payroll capabilities. Payroll and scheduling go hand in hand. When both features are in the same software program, management has a much easier time completing payroll activities.
One example is calculating overtime and holiday pay. Both impact scheduling and payroll significantly. When the processes are automated, you can cross off an extra task in your day. Now you don’t need to worry about remembering to pay anyone overtime or handling the holidays.
Now you’re ready to shop!
Shopping for the right workforce management software can seem like a daunting task. However, if you know exactly what to look for then the experience will not be so painful.
It can be easy to get distracted by software that seems to have all the fancy bells and whistles but sometimes that program is not what your organization needs.
Before reaching out to vendors, write down what are the “Must Haves” for your company as well as the “Nice to Haves.” This is a great way to prevent you from getting sidetracked.
Once you find the right workforce management software and see how productivity and efficiency improves in your company, you will soon realize that the time you invested into researching beforehand was well worth it.