Workforce management (WFM) is one of those software application categories that lives or dies depending on integration with other systems. At the most basic level, integration with the automatic call distributor (ACD) or routing platform for contact statistics and agent status is a must. But other integrations can make a dramatic difference to planning outcomes and your ability to collaborate with the wider business. And they can save you a lot of time and trouble.
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Contact statistics and agent status information
WFM applications need to be fed with data from the ACD.
Why is that important?
- Without historic data such as contact volumes and average handling times, you can’t forecast future workload and staffing requirements
- Without an up-to-date view of contact metrics such as contact volumes, you can’t effectively manage a contact center in real-time
- Without a clear picture of the current status of all your agents, you can’t easily manage agent schedule adherence
It’s usually possible to enter contact history data manually into a WFM system and you may have a very good reason for doing this. For example, BPOs (outsourcers) are typically provided with forecasts or staffing requirements by their clients. But if you are doing your own forecasts, manual data entry is very time-consuming and prone to error. And regardless of whether you are outsourcing or insourcing, without an integration, real-time management and adherence monitoring are simply not a practical proposition.
injixo offers a range of out-of-the-box integrations, with new connections continuously being added to our platform. Not all contact centers use a mainstream ACD. Sometimes a business will run one that's new to the market or home-grown, e.g. based on open-source components. In this scenario, you’re unlikely to find that an ‘off-the-shelf’ integration is available. An open integration API like the one from injixo can be used to create seamless data integrations with injixo, enabling contact history and agent status events to be sent using industry-standard protocols.
Synchronization with other systems
Data stored in the WFM application is often critical to business processes outside the planning function or even outside the contact center.
- Time off that is managed in the WFM system needs to be synchronized with the ERP system or HR system
- Worked hours need to be exported to the payroll system so that employees working variable shifts are paid correctly
- WFM performance metrics need to be included in management information dashboards
- BPOs need to provide reports to clients which include WFM data
- A recent poll revealed that the majority of planners perform long-range forecasting and budgeting using a spreadsheet. Data about contact volumes, shrinkage levels, and agent productivity are needed for long-range forecasting and all this data is stored in WFM systems
This is where a general applications programming interface (API) comes into its own. An API such as that provided by injixo uses industry-standard REST protocols to enable WFM and other applications to seamlessly synchronize.
Why is that important?
- It enables you to implement joined-up solutions that improve processes business-wide
- You are in control. You don’t have to wait for one or more suppliers to implement a connection
- You can use familiar business intelligence (BI) and reporting tools
- You can automatically curate data from more than one source - no more transcription errors due to manual copy/paste or re-keying
When selecting a WFM system, it’s easy to overlook the integration details. That's because it's common to evaluate alternative systems based on features, functionality, ease of use, quality of support, and pricing. Integration is definitely worth including in your checklist.
We recommend that you check:
- If the WFM application you’re considering supports the ACDs or routing platforms that you currently use or plan to adopt in the future
- How easy it is to set up an integration. Is it something the planning team can do themselves or do you need to get the ACD vendor or IT involved?
- Does the vendor offer an API that suits your needs?
Checklist: WFM software must-haves
A quality data connection is only one factor to consider when searching for the right workforce management software.
Whether you’ve decided to leave your spreadsheet behind or are looking to make the switch to a new solution that fits you better, make sure to download our WFM Software Must-Haves Checklist.
And if you’d like to talk about your workforce management needs with any of our consultants, it’s easy to get in touch! We’d be happy to meet you.
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Originally published on Mar 29, 2022, updated on Oct 02, 2022.