Unless yours is a one-man organization, you achieve your organizational goals, to a smaller or greater degree, through a workforce. If that workforce is not productive, the efficiency of goals-achievement suffers and costs of achievement go up.
To some extent, productivity can be ensured through use of fear. However, in modern organizations operating in a competitive environment, fear is becoming less and less effective. Workers have increasing choices for selecting their employers.
This is particularly true of IT workforce with the specific kind of skills that your organization needs. You have not only to find people with the right skills but you also have to retain them. Both productivity and customer service can improve significantly if you are able to maintain a stable workforce.
It is in this context that workforce management has become a key management area these days.
What Is Workforce Management?
Workforce management seeks to develop a workforce consisting of happy and productive workers through:
Good payroll and benefits packages and administration
Best HR practices that help recruit and retain the right kind of workers with the right set of skills
Training and developing the workers into a team with the right mix of skills and fitting in with the organizational culture
Monitoring performance and rewarding good performers
Forecasting requirements and developing career and succession plans to meet the requirements
While the above is the generally accepted view of workforce management, newer and specialized definitions have also developed. These specialized kinds of workforce management cater to the emerging needs of service organizations and call centers.
Workforce management software can help service organizations through:
Forecasting work orders
Planning the number of skills of technicians needed to service these work orders
Planning the tools and vehicles needed for the servicing
Scheduling the workers, tools and vehicles in an optimal manner using predefined rules
Assigning work orders to particular technicians in each area
For call centers, workforce management software can:
- Forecast call volumes throughout the day
- Plan shifts in a customized manner
- Schedules workers by skills and experience
- Forecast seasonal changes in volumes
- Monitor performance
Workforce Management Contribution to Bottom Line
The diversity of skill sets required in modern IT departments make it critical that these be assessed and managed properly. Otherwise, the IT department would rather be a drag on the resources of the organization instead of being a contributor to its bottom line. There would be an imbalance in the demands and availability of specific IT skills.
Service organizations need to optimize the contribution of their workforce through scheduling and routing of their field service personnel. This scheduling is a complex exercise that needs to consider the skills, nearness to the service sites, availability of needed parts and other factors. It would need specialist workforce management software to handle this complexity in a reasonably satisfactory manner.
A workforce with right skill sets and experience can make a real contribution to achieving organizational objectives. With an increasingly competitive marketplace for skilled workers, only a highly effective workforce management could help organizations hire, develop and keep their skilled workforce. Workforce management software can help IT and service organizations optimize worker satisfaction and performance.
We will look at different aspects of workforce management in a series of articles.