Over the years we sometimes have potential customers remark that they could probably build their own workforce management software with a series of Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets. Others talk about hiring a few coders to write their own software. We respect their choices, but we do call back later to inquire – “How’s that working for you?” Nine times out of 10 the answer is “not so good.” The other one out of 10 have no idea since their product is years from release.
While attending Customer Contact Strategies’ Remote Working Summit in Dallas earlier this month, I watched two presenters explain their pathway for creating one system to encompass all their workforce management needs that included time and attendance, video monitoring and recording, as well as forecasting and scheduling. Dr. Pipkins and I spoke later about the presenters’ ideas – great! – the amount of time they were about to invest – years! – and the costs of such a brave endeavor – millions of dollars! In fact, the path the presenters were about to embark on was the same path of which we were approaching the end with our newest commercial workforce management software solutions.
Chuck Cohn wrote an interesting article in Forbes (Sept. 15, 2018) on how to determine whether to buy or build your own software solution. Cohn suggests it is preferable to pursue investing in a custom in-house solution if it provides an edge over your competitors and if you can spread the cost over your customer base. Unless your team has the technical know-how to design and implement a custom software system, and if time is no obstacle, then the final hurdle to overcome is the cost.
I am not sure workforce management software gives one a clear-cut edge over the competition, but what it does do is save the company money and boost productivity which increase profits … and those increased profits can fund other projects that can give a company an edge. However, unless your business objective is to design software products – is this really a tool or tool suite you want to build and maintain? As Dr. Pipkins says so often around the office, “You’re never done.” Products need on-going support and maintenance and most companies’ needs change over the months or years. All of a sudden, your “finished” product needs to be updated or changed in order to adapt to the company’s evolution.
No software package will solve every problem for every company, so choose one that can accommodate most of your needs and offers your organization a means to tweak the package through rules and directives. In short, look for a package that can be fine-tuned for most, if not all, of your unique requirements. Few small- to medium-sized businesses have lots of time and money to attempt such a complex, on-going project as building a workforce management software solution from scratch — and for those companies, Pipkins can fill their needs. Similarly, many larger firms also opt for commercial solutions, so they can focus on their core business and avoid committing time and resources to develop and maintain their own custom software.
Pipkins IntelliTRACK™ and IntelliSUITE™ bring together time and attendance tracking to interface with your payroll system (contact centers, back office and other enterprise operations) and align with a forecasting and scheduling system. IntelliVIEW™ allows managers and supervisors to monitor, record, and interact with workers for compliance purposes, communication needs, mentoring, collaboration, and so much more. These three tool sets are all a part of Pipkins’ Workforce Network® family of cloud-based solutions that leverage our 35 years of WFM expertise.
You too can have that custom experience of a product that meets the majority of your needs – you just don’t have to wait years to get it!
A privately-held, American-owned company, Pipkins, Inc. was founded in 1983, and is based in St. Louis, Missouri. The firm is a leading provider of workforce management solutions for the contact center industry. Today, Pipkins’ systems forecast, plan and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide. In addition, Pipkins solutions have applications for back office and remote workers, as well as a range of other business operations that can lower your costs, boost productivity and add to your bottom line.
by: Martha Heltsley, PhD