A question that people who are investigating workforce management (WFM) software often ask is “how quickly will I get up to speed? That’s a great question!
Just like any other software application, WFM is a case of “no pain, no gain”. There’s no escaping the fact that WFM users must go through an onboarding period before they start to benefit from the system.
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- Integration with the ACD or CTI system
- Configuration of contact data, agent data, skills, activities, etc.
- Training in the various functional areas - forecasting, scheduling, real-time management, etc.
It’s impossible to give a single definitive answer to the ‘how long’ question. As a very rough rule of thumb, onboarding typically takes four to six weeks from sign-up to go-live. Of course, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ project, so this isn’t a guarantee. We have seen projects which take more and less time than that.
The actual duration depends on several factors:
- Size and complexity of the operation: Clearly, a contact center on six sites, employing 3,000 agents with 20 skills will take longer to set up than a single site of 100 agents with three skills.
- Prior experience of the users: Although different WFM applications have subtly different sets of features, once you’ve used one, you’re halfway to learning another one. Even if you’ve never used a WFM application before, being a power user of Excel definitely makes a difference.
- Quality of the onboarding experience: Being trained and supported by former planners, who have walked in your shoes, felt your pain, and speak your language, gives you a huge advantage when it comes to onboarding speed - and ongoing success.
- Automation in the software: Machine learning, artificial intelligence, and sophisticated algorithms are increasingly common in WFM applications. Automation not only reduces the effort of using WFM on a daily basis, it slashes the time required for onboarding. Read more about WFM automation in this post.
- Size of team: All else being equal, the more people involved, the less time will elapse before workforce management goes live. Of course, this depends on the efficient allocation of tasks within the team and good WFM vendors will provide advice on this.
- Time availability: Planners tend to be hard-working, busy people who have little slack time in their calendars to work on new projects. In simple terms, if you can only spare one day per week for onboarding, then a 5 days of work will take 5 weeks to complete. There are tactics for solving this problem and again, a good WFM consultant will be able to advise.
- Degree of urgency: In our experience, this is the single biggest determinant of time taken for onboarding. If new customers are empowered and supported by their organization to focus on implementing the WFM system, it is possible to get up to speed in a very short time, measured in days or a small number of weeks. This degree of focus usually requires an immovable deadline or another compelling event.
How quickly would your company take to get up to speed?
Our experts have successfully helped hundreds of contact centers to implement WFM and they'll be happy to give you an honest assessment.
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Originally published on May 30, 2022, updated on Mar 22, 2023.