Making the right purchasing decision is always important for companies who are looking to upgrade or implement new technology. Today’s economy places additional pressure on companies to be more diligent when spending dollars allocated to improve efficiency. Many contact centers are still scheduling agent hours through costly and inefficient manual methods. Investment in one of today’s workforce management solutions can provide an attractive return on investment (ROI) as well as positively impact a company’s bottom line. Many options are available for workforce management solutions and affordable solutions are available. However, purchasing the wrong workforce management solutions can result in wasted investment dollars and a system that does not meet your needs. Before purchasing a workforce management solution, keep these four criteria in mind to maximize your investment and ensure the solution will meet your company’s requirements today and in the future.
- Ease of use – One feature that some vendors emphasize when promoting their workforce management solutions is ease of use. If you consider this to be an important factor, remember that ease of use does not always translate to quality and functionality. Purchasing a solution that your users will adopt and learn is important; however, if the system is not functional or does not meet your specific needs, ease of use becomes secondary. Preprogram functionality from Pipkins’ perspective.
- Integration – Many vendors promote integration as one of the biggest considerations in a purchasing decision. While integration is important, it should not be placed above your overall business needs. One erroneous assumption is that all vendors are able to integrate with other vendors’ applications. This is not true and you should ensure that all tools are available for integration before purchasing workforce management solutions. Some vendors claim that you will get better integration from one vendor. This is not necessarily true because if, for example, you purchase or accept a free workforce management system with the purchase of quality monitoring software, the developers of the quality monitoring software may not understand workforce management. This can result in a system that may not be fully functional, and/or does not meet your specific needs. Many best of breed solutions provide easy integration and more data sharing capabilities with other vertical software products because of database structures and vendor collaboration.
- Remember, you get what you pay for! – Before purchasing workforce management solutions, consider whether you can afford to buy features now that you may not need for years. Look for a system that allows you to grow and add features on an as-needed basis. While it may be tempting to accept vendor offers that promote “one solution fits all” or offers free software, quality and functionality should be your primary considerations. Beware of companies offering free workforce management solutions. A staggering 78% of Pipkins’ installed base are replacement systems. Choose a system that will deliver a return on investment now and support your company’s more challenging and sophisticated needs for the future.
- Do not allow a vendor to hold you captive No single vendor can offer a complete quality solution, regardless of their claims. Most companies are built on the reputation of doing one thing well. Quality suffers when vendors acquire other software that is not their area of expertise. Using one vendor for all your software purchases limits your options for competitive pricing, locks you into one technology system, and many times restricts your ability to pay as you grow. Consider your overall business strategy and do not allow your choice of workforce management solutions to put you at the mercy of one vendor.
Some vendors claim that ROI can be achieved in less than a year, or even within the first six months of purchase. ROI is subject to many variables, including how it is calculated. However, there is evidence that workforce management is a wise investment that provides a strong ROI while increasing efficiency in the call center.
According to the PELORUS 2009 Workforce Management Report, workforce management solutions have come a long way since the early iterations which were hard to use and error-prone, particularly with respect to forecasting. Most top vendors have complete product offerings and their models have improved to account for multiple skill sets, locations, time zones, and channels. Schedules can now be built to 30-minute increments, or even 15 minutes, in some cases. Forecasting engines are now more sophisticated and use simulations that take into account a myriad of factors, including known events such as new product releases and special events. Agents are able to manage their own schedules within defined business rules. Reporting is more flexible and pre-built integrations have shortened the implementation cycle from months to weeks. Most importantly, most applications are much easier to use and administer. Many vendors provide Web-based interfaces that allow agents to report last-minute absences, as well as work from home. While many vendors offer al of these features, they cannot al offer the same quality. The best decision is to choose a vendor that specializes in workforce management and understands the business needs of your company.
Pipkins, Inc. is a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the call center industry. For the past twenty-seven years, Pipkins has consistently created and delivered superior workforce management products for cal centers of all sizes. Pipkins maintains its reputation as an industry leader with thirteen industry-first applications. Pipkins’ premier product, Vantage Point, is the most accurate forecasting and scheduling tool on the market. Pipkins’ systems forecast and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide.