March 4, 2021

5 ways workforce management can save you time (and money)

This blog post is part of an ongoing effort to demystify the ins and outs of workforce management. We've previously covered "What exactly is workforce management?" and highlighted the key industry terms and jargon in The Essential Workforce Management Glossary: 25 Must-Know Terms and Concepts. Keep an eye out for more deep dives to come!

Workforce management is complex and demonstrating its value quantitatively—whether to your leadership team, colleagues in finance, or support team—can feel endlessly complicated. The benefit of optimization techniques like dynamic forecasting or increased schedule adherence can feel intangible at times. You know it's a good thing, but how does it all fit together and how can you put real numbers to the benefits?

Support teams tend to gravitate toward benefits that are hard to describe in terms of dollars—for example improving response times, aligning the team around metrics, creating a more accurate budget, improving the overall team experience. That said, underlying the usage of a workforce management software platform is a clear cost savings story, rooted in the principles of workforce management. For instance, in the example below, we describe how a 30 person support team with 4 team leads can save nearly $200,000 per year with workforce management generally (or Assembled specifically!).

We’re excited to release access to our fully customizable cost savings calculator to help you and your team put real dollar amounts to these measures. We encourage you to play around with the numbers yourself. You can enter your team's parameters as they stand today or test out different scenarios to see the effect changes have on your overall support costs. Our calculator includes scenarios based on industry benchmarks with minimal (5%), achievable (12%) and high (21%) increases in team efficiency.

(To generate a custom report for your own team, simply make a copy of the calculator here and enter your own values.)

1. Productivity and adherence

Increases in productivity and adherence make up the first class of savings derived from using workforce management automation. A workforce management platform with sophisticated time tracking can provide both agents and managers with additional visibility into the team schedule and allows managers to see how agents spend their time at a granular level.

Measuring productivity is, of course, important, particularly for channels like email and SMS where tracking how time is spent is more opaque. Simultaneously measuring adherence to expected schedules provides the necessary context to accurately evaluate gross output metrics. This level of granularity helps managers identify coaching opportunities and helps teams as a whole to more consistently hit their service level and response targets.

For example, this additional visibility led to a 25% improvement in agent productivity at Harry’s while Stripe was able to improve overall team adherence by 33%. For the purposes of our calculation, we assume that every 5% improvement in productivity and adherence yields a 1% improvement in overall team efficiency—as measured by the total number of agent hours saved, resulting in a $48,048 cost-savings value annually for our example team.

2. Dynamic forecasting

Dynamic forecasting is a critical operational component of running an efficient support team day to day. Rather than simply forecasting for long-term planning purposes, dynamic forecasting provides real-time data to enable teams to respond to the fluctuations in contact volume throughout a given day or week.

This gives analysts on your team the tools they need to make informed scheduling decisions. Dynamic forecasting allows teams to adjust to conditions on the ground as they evolve and reduces instances of scheduled overstaffing throughout a time period, resulting in significant cost savings. Teams like Daily Harvest use dynamic forecasting to hit their performance targets without overhiring.

Dynamic forecasting yields $60,060 in annual savings for our example team, representing a 5% improvement in overall team efficiency.

3. Time savings

When considering the ways in which workforce management automation saves your team money, perhaps the most obvious is the monetary value of time saved. Workforce management software can generate optimal schedules based on your team's arrival pattern and forecast future headcount needed based on a variety of historical factors. Automating managerial tasks like these based on industry best practices can yield substantial results.

Team leads are often power users of a workforce management platform and can gain back 15% of their weekly time by automating the processes of forecasting, scheduling and tracking agent productivity. For specific tasks, the savings can be even greater. For example, Floyd has saved 70% of their time spent scheduling, while GoFundMe has saved two hours of team leads’ time every day in scheduling time.

Providing a scalable solution that works with managers and team leads as a team grows results in 1,248 hours saved each year, which accounts for $37,440 annually.

4. Scheduling accuracy

Beyond simply recognizing the arrival patterns of your support contacts and forecasting future volume accordingly, teams can further optimize their operations by matching scheduled hours to their support volume's arrival pattern (see McKinsey's writeup on mastering the challenge of capacity management). Workforce management software can generate optimal schedules to find ideal times for non-productive events like lunches, breaks and meetings, leading to reduced wait times for customers and smoother shifts for agents.

Savings due to increased scheduling accuracy can easily be the most significant contributor to your team’s overall cost savings when implemented along with more flexible scheduling options like part-time work, variable shifts, etc. These savings make up an additional 2% improvement in overall team efficiency, valued at $24,024 annually for our example team.

5. Voluntary time off

The final piece of the savings puzzle is voluntary time off. Through dynamic forecasting and real-time responsiveness, your team has the ability and the option to confidently offer voluntary time-off in periods of overstaffing. In addition to being a popular measure with agents (who doesn’t want to take off early on a Friday afternoon?), this provides the real-time ability to reduce the number and intensity of overstaffed intervals.

Savings from voluntary time off contribute an additional $12,012 to the total savings annually, representing a final 1% improvement in team efficiency.

These improvements—excluding the time savings already accounted for—collectively contribute to a 12% increase in overall team efficiency. In practical terms, this means a weekly hours savings of 126 hours, equivalent to $2,772 each week or $144,144 annually. Again, this is not to mention the unquantified benefits—including better response times, more consistent service level attainment and fewer abandoned customers, along with improved budgeting accuracy for finance decisions and a better overall team experience.

The gains for your particular team depend on a variety of factors including the existing state of your workforce management measures and the extent to which your team adopts and embraces these measures. Explore for yourself what these measures can do for your team. Input your team’s custom metrics and take a look at the potential savings, along with a detailed explanation of the assumptions made to arrive there tailored to your inputs.

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