Written by 6:00 am Feature, Service Operations, Service Operations, Editor's Pick

What is Workforce Management (and How Does it Work)?

What does Workforce Management (WFM) mean exactly and why it is important to have an efficient workforce management process in place?

Workforce management (WFM) is a set of processes that maximize workforce performance and productivity with the goal of boosting organizational performance. But what does that mean exactly? 

Simply put: WFM means a holistic way to ensure that your employees are as productive as possible by making sure they always have the right resources – whenever they need them.

With origins as a staff scheduling process for call centers, WFM has evolved into a complex framework for maintaining teams, budgeting, scheduling, and more. Today, its processes and tools are used across a number of business functions, including human resource management, performance and training management, scheduling, data collection, recruiting, budgeting and forecasting, scheduling, and analytics. Workforce management is a type of software applicable to a wide range of industries – including field service. 

As an extension of workforce management, field service management tools help teams better serve their clients and reduce overhead costs. Over the last decade, workforce management and field service management has evolved from time, attendance, and scheduling tools, to more sophisticated, data-driven technology that can continuously improve and manage workforce performance. Today, service intelligence is one of the most powerful tools available to leaders that need to manage their service workforce.  

Why workforce management is important

To answer this question, it’s first essential to understand how workforce management strategies are developed and used – as well as what an efficient one looks like. 

An airtight workforce management process prioritizes efficiency and safety for all employees, all while ensuring that they have the correct resources to do their jobs efficiently. When done right, workforce management goes beyond performance and scheduling. It provides insights into the exact ways that companies should invest in their employees. 

With that foundation in mind, a solid workforce management strategy would provide insights into all aspects of a business. Workforce management is overall pretty flexible, but there are a few items that you should always include in your organization’s process. A strong workforce management solution should be capable of the following functions, to name a few:

  • Data collection: collecting statistics about the workforce’s performance
  • Field service management: making sure that company resources are dispatched and utilized correctly for each job
  • Performance tracking: ensuring that employee performance meets and exceeds company expectations and KPIs
  • Budgeting: planning and using allocated financial resources for internal and external efforts
  • Recruitment: sourcing, shortlisting, interviewing, and selecting the right candidates for available positions
  • Training: providing training, coaching, or resources (online or otherwise!) that ensure that employees are up-to-date on the latest skills for their jobs
  • Knowledge Management tools: collating field notes and more from top techs – and making them accessible to front-line ambassadors, who can use the intel to help customers resolve their challenges without involving a technician
  • Service analytics and recommendations: looking at an organization’s current landscape in order to determine areas of success and opportunities – and then providing actionable suggestions for improvement 

Advantages of a efficient workforce management process

When successfully implemented and utilized, workforce management allows companies to improve their performance across the board by tracking goals and KPIs. Additionally, it helps to manage and flag costs. And, possibly more importantly, it allows organizations to understand their team on a deeper level – including their strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This ensures that workers are constantly invested in and improved, which leads to happier employees, increased productivity, and improved retention. Above all, all roads lead to an improved customer experience across the board. 

Workforce management systems can help:

  • Control costs: Thanks to the help of technology, manual tracking is a thing of the past. Costly expenses, from overstaffing to excessive overtime, can be easily managed – and minimized. 
  • Run payroll: Many workforce management software automatically analyze hourly labor and overtime patterns. This increases payroll’s reliability. 
  • Improve productivity: Want to benchmark your productivity against your peers? Workforce management systems can help you cross-reference data from KPIs, time, attendance, etc. against businesses that are similar in size or industry. With the right insights, you can help your employees get up to speed, assign them tasks that are within their capabilities, and more. 
  • Develop smarter scheduling: You always want to make sure your vacancies are filled by the right people with the correct skill sets. This will ensure that you have optimal coverage at all times in every location.

Choosing the right workforce management solution for your organization

There are a number of workforce management solutions on the market, with options ranging from basic time and attendance functionalities to total transformation with service analytics and AI. With that in mind, there are a few factors that determine the right workforce management solutions for a business, including industry, location, company goals, and employee needs. 

However, it can be costly to build in-house systems, so most companies turn to third-party tools and software. When evaluating solutions, be sure to:

  • Take a look at your existing workforce management processes. This can help determine if your organization is ready for an advanced solution. What types of processes are currently in place? Who is responsible for them? How are they working? 
  • Talk to your stakeholders and get their feedback. No one knows a system better than a power user. Determine each stakeholder’s pain points and understand where they’d like to see improvements. Additionally, get to know what they like about the existing systems, and see if there are ways to streamline those processes. Remember: stakeholder buy-in is everything when implementing a new solution!
  • Develop a functionality wishlist. It’s always best to come to a solution evaluation meeting with basic discoveries done. Based on your organizational analyses and conversations with stakeholders, determine which features are non-negotiable in your ideal solution, as well as some nice-to-haves. This will help you shortlist providers that provide the exact features that you want and additional features that you did not initially consider.

What is Workforce Management for today’s service organizations?

Service organizations today have a unique set of needs. No matter where they are in their service journey, organizations are looking to:

  • Understand the stories told by their data and using these insights to connect every aspect of their business
  • Predict and mitigate service escalations 
  • Deliver amazing customer experiences and reduce customer churn
  • Lower service costs – especially with a looming recession 
  • Make every team member a service hero that performs at the level of their top technicians – even if they’re new to the service industry 

Given the needs of today’s organizations, companies are making the decision to move beyond traditional workforce management tools. They need smart software, like Service Intelligence, that can help them accomplish all of the above and more. Service intelligence platforms like Aquant use technology that organizes and analyzes traditional service data and institutional knowledge from its highest-performing employees. 

Powered by their own data, service intelligence platforms can provide workforce reporting, asset reporting, customer success reporting, and troubleshooting and triage tools. This offers entire organizations – from executives to technicians – access to custom reports, analyses, and insights that can change the way they deliver service

Service intelligence platforms are an excellent form of workforce management solutions. Platforms like Aquant allow organizations to:

  • Identify technician training needs. Service intelligence platforms account for all details around a technician’s performance, including customer information, assets, number of visits, success rates, and more. This provides real context into the technician’s performance, especially when it comes to identifying strengths and areas for improvement. Managers can then assign techs more projects that highlight their skills, as well as provide resources for improving their performance in other areas. 
  • Upskill technicians with the help of troubleshooting tools. Effectively sharing knowledge among teams is the key to service success. Service intelligence platforms can upskill employees by keeping historical service data, tribal knowledge, equipment manuals, and more in one place – and making it accessible to anyone who needs to find it. This functionality can teach junior technicians quickly and boost technician performance across the board. 
  • Support every team within an organization, from engineering to product to field technicians. For an organization to run smoothly, all departments need to work in tandem. And when it comes to information about your assets, any data that you can provide your team is invaluable. For example, your Service team needs insights to run the business, Engineering depends on product feedback, Marketing utilizes insights to inform messaging and campaigns, and Sales benefits from intel on customer satisfaction. Gleaning the right type of insights from your data ensures that all teams have the information they need to do their job well and ultimately create an optimal customer experience.
  • Give teams insights (and context!) into customer needs and their journeys. Objectivity is everything. Taking a look at the raw data can provide predictive reporting that informs preventative maintenance – and, by proxy, a stellar customer experience. Say goodbye to unnecessary escalations and hello to memorable customer service.  

The end result? A clear shift from traditional, break-fix service – right into predictive service that’s informed by real analytics. 

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