“What are the Best Operational Metrics to Track with a WFM Tool"

“What are the best operational metrics to track with a WFM tool?" This is a question I am asked all of the time that is seemingly simple but actually requires a very complex answer.

On the surface workforce management planning only requires three metrics:

  1. How many work items are performed
  2. When do the work items come in
  3. How long do they take to handle

Simple right? Most of the time I am asked this about Contact Centers only. But let's look at a type of work totally out in left field in comparison to Contact Centers and see how these metrics stack up.  

If I wanted to schedule staffing for a doctors office, for example; we just need to know how many patients come in each day (naturally this will be different each day depending on seasonality and weather), when do the patients come in (call this "Arrival Pattern") and how long does it take to help each patient (this is called "Handle Time"). The Handle Time should be counted as when the patient actually sees the doctor. But we would call the time a patient walks into the office and nurses have them sit and wait, fill out papers, or take blood pressure etc,  "In Queue" time. When a doctor is finally seeing a patient but leaves the room and comes back later, it would be called "Hold Time".

So there you have it, most of the time no matter what the work situation -whether it is in a contact center, a doctors office, or even maybe such a place as a retail outlet- in the simplest form we would only need the three metrics mentioned above to perform workforce management scheduling. 

But in an emerging world of global competition where everyone uses the exact same metrics, a company bent on providing better, more efficient service would need to get more precise staffing predictions. To do so they would need to use additional metrics or "KPI's" to get those better staffing predictions. Here is a good illustration of this point.

Anyone who knows workforce management knows that it is all about scheduling the right, person at the right place, at the right time. You can read this in nearly every important WFM article you come across. But if you do only schedule the right person, at the right place, at the right time, you will experience failures much of the time. Sometimes these failures will be catastrophic! The reason for such failures is because we need an additional key performance indicator to make this WFM statement work. We need the right person, at the right place, at the right time, with the right tools! The truth is, every business failure in the world can be ascribed to the breakdown of one of these points. 

Have you ever heard of someone paying huge sums of money to consultants to analyze why a venture failed? The consultants need look for a breakdown no further than in these four key indicators; wrong person?, wrong place?, wrong time?, wrong tools? Incidentally, when it comes to contact centers, not having the right tools is one of the most frequent categories of problems I regularly run across and am hired to attempt to remedy.

So now we understand what the basic metrics are that a WFM tool needs to utilize in order to calculate a basic staffing schedule. But we also now know that there could be other KPI's that need to be measured to give us a competitive edge in today's dynamic market place. These KPI's are different for every contact center and a good deal of time and thought needs to be invested in finding out what they are for each individual business. Here are a few that could be measured and then the results could become part of the calculations used to produce a more efficient schedule:

  • Proficiency
  • Quality
  • Personal adherence percentage
  • Punctuality
  • First call resolution
  • Sales conversion rate
  • Survey rate
  • Documentation accuracy rate

The list can go on and on depending on the business situation. 

So what are the best operational metrics to track with a WFM tool? In order to stay competitive, I recommend that a good bit of research time is invested in finding out exactly what these might be for your particular business situation. Don't forget the basics, but be certain to take the time to go beyond them as well.