What to Consider Before Buying WFM Software

How to Improve Contact Center Scheduling Practices
Illustration by David Grey for Pipeline

If you’re in the market for workforce management (WFM) software and you don’t know how to get started, consider these two approaches:

  1. Use a WFM request for proposal (RFP) questionnaire with multiple vendors. Give the highest weightings to your most critical priorities (anything that you cannot live without). For example, if you are an outbound/inbound blended center, include outbound functionality as a PASS/FAIL category on the questionnaire, not just a very highly weighted section.
  2. Have vendors participate in a “Forecasting/Scheduling Taste Test.” Supply each vendor with an identical raw data set of your data to use in their demo. This will give you an idea of the kind of workload tasks you have to look forward to if you select them to be your vendor. If their forecast results are too generic, you’ll have an idea of the additional effort you’ll have to put in outside of the application. Check out their sample schedules and make sure they are schedules that your agents are willing to work. Comparing one vendor’s results against the rest will make it easier to select a winner.

Once you purchase the software, you’ll need to visualize what you expect it to produce, and then be responsible for getting all the knobs and dials tuned to the right setting. This requires running your data through a series of tests until it performs in an acceptable way. Some vendors began implementing machine learning, but there is still no pure artificial intelligence in WFM software—it will only do what you tell it to do.

You also need to take some of the burden of keeping the vendor/client relationship in a happy state. When they ask for your feedback, give them your full attention. Join user groups, and stay up to date on WFM topics. Attending vendor user conferences is a great way to get fresh training, stay up to speed on upgrades, and network with people who have similar challenges.

Editor’s note: This post is an excerpt from Tiffany LaReau’s ebook, Diary of a Workforce Manager, a comprehensive WFM guide told through LaReau’s experiences, trials and errors during her 30+ years as a WFM consultant. Download your copy today!