After spending the last month in Europe and New Zealand, I'm back in Sydney working on a number of both front and back office projects. While I was in Europe I spent some time with a number of organisations who are rolling out Workforce Management in back office and it's interesting to note the similarities that most of these organisations face, namely lack of accurate data. In front office, we've grown accustomed to the large number of reports recording everything our agents do but behind the scenes, in back office this is often not the case. Often the technology is out dated and in need of a serious upgrade or renewal in order to get anything of value for the capacity planning teams. As per my previous blog on back office, the cultural change and shift in attitudes towards scheduling and managing these teams is also significant. People don't want to be treated like a contact centre and many don't see the need for change as 'this is the way things have always been done.'
So where do you start?
Firstly, define what it is that you are trying to do and how you will know if you have succeeded. Spend time getting to know how people in the back office work; sit with the teams to get a better understanding of the processes and tasks that are involved and the challenges they face. Understand what is driving your customers to contact you and if any of the processes are increasing the number of customer touch points within your organisation. Which processes/tasks are wasting time? Do they need to happen? Take it one step at a time and don't go in expecting to change everything overnight. Find out which tasks are related to each process. What needs to be done before the next procedure can start? Document these processes and the tasks within them so that you have detailed process maps as this will help you understand the complexity of this environment. You then need to understand approximately how long it takes to complete each procedure? If no data is available conduct time in motion studies. Watch how staff deal with backlog. Can they cherry pick which piece of work they undertake? What is the service level goal? How often are service levels achieved? Is backlog measured? How is it measured?What are the drivers that cause this to change? These are all questions that need to be understood.
Back office planning is different to inbound planning as the service levels are often greater than 24 hours. This means that back office has to deal with backlog and the work we do today will impact service levels for yesterday, today and tomorrow and the upcoming days. You may therefore need to increase your staffing requirements now to make sure you meet your service levels for days that have already passed and days that are several days in the future. It is not just a simple workload calculation.