What do I need to know about Workforce Management (WFM)? – Spreadsheet Scheduler

High Level Workforce Management Process Flow

What is the process of Workforce Management (WFM), how can I schedule in spreadsheets for my small call center?   What is Workforce Management

Getting the right people in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing

  1. Long Term Forecast and Hiring Plan (Capacity Plan)
  2. Short Term Forecast, including weekly, daily, interval breakdowns (Volume/AHT)
  3. Generate Schedules to Short Term Staffing Needs
  4. Intraday Management
  5. Reporting



    WFM forecasting in Excel spreadsheets for small call centers.  Workforce Management capacity plan, hiring plan

    Long Term Forecast and Hiring Plan (Capacity Plan)

    Figuring out how many agents you need to run a call center and hiring to it.

    This process is typically done at 12 weeks in advanced and updated as you get closer to the date.

    Using Historical trends, determine how much phone time you need to get from agents based on the weekly # of calls you will receive and the average handle time per call (including any after call work time).

    Recommended Solution:

    • SS Forecaster (Long and Short Term Forecasting Tool)
    • SS Trendline (Forecasting tool for those with limited history, just a few months)

    Now that you have the total amount of phone time you are expecting, you need to determine how many agents you need to have on your roster to get that much phone time.  Account for the total amount of time an agent is either on PTO, out sick, or not on the phones (shrinkage).  Also, due to inefficiencies of a call center, to insure you have an agent available to handle calls coming in at random patterns, you need to expect a certain amount of time where an agent is sitting waiting for a call.  A large call center can still have their agents talking over 90% of the time they are logged into taking calls, but smaller call centers (less economies of scale) might only be able to be on the phone 60-70% of the time, and thus waiting 30-40% of the time.

    You now have the number of agents you need to have on your roster to handle future demands.  Based on the number of agents you currently have, and predicting how many agents you will be losing from now and then (attrition) you plan when you need to hire agents to meet this demand.

    Recommended Solution:


    WFM (Workforce Management) for small business, getting started, forecasting in MS Excel Spreadsheets.  Free process flow

    Short Term Forecast, including weekly, daily, interval breakdowns

    For every half hour of the day, predict the number of agents you need on the phones

    Arguable the most important step in the workforce management process is creating the short term forecast to create schedules against.  This process is typically completed a week or two in advance to create schedules against. 

    This is accomplished by taking your predicted weekly volume/AHT, and breaking it down into daily volumes, and then even further into half hour increments.  This then gives you a predicted number of calls and predicted handle times for every half hour interval of the day.

    Erlang modelling is then applied to your predicted interval volume/AHT to determine the number of agents needed to handle the volume.

    Recommended Solutions:

    • SS Forecaster (Create weekly forecast, break out into daily) 
    • SS Intervals (Determine how to allocate daily volumes into half hour intervals)
    • SS Holidays (Free Spreadsheet, break weekly volume down into daily volume for weeks with abnormal volume patterns due to Holiday impact or other special event).

    Process overview of how to perform Workforce Management (WFM).  What is WFM?  How do I use WFM in a small call center?

    Create Schedules to Short Term Staffing Needs

    Apply weekly agent schedules and make adjustments accordingly

    This process is typically completed a week or two in advance, after the short term forecast has been created and you know when you need the agent coverage.  Schedules are finalized including any approved PTO, off phone activities and other adjustments.  Based on staffing needs, various other adjustments like planning overtime or changing schedule start/end times to account for coverage needs.  Some call centers grant fixed schedules while others have variable schedules.

    Fixed Schedules-Many call centers have set work schedules where agents work the same start/end times week over week.  From time to time, a shift bid might be offered where adjustments are made to realign schedules to current distribution patterns.  Fixed schedules tend to be better for employee satisfaction and work/life balance due to being able to plan life around a set schedule.  However, you often sacrifice some flexibility and thus efficiency in responding to changing staffing needs (arrival pattern changes, agent attrition, etc.).

    Variable Schedules-Many call centers have variable work schedules where agents work the different start/end times week over week, and perhaps from day to day.  Typically an agent is assigned a window of time (usually an hour or two) where their shift will start sometime within this start window.  So, for example, an agent is assigned a shift where, based on staffing needs, they will be scheduled for an hour shift that will start anywhere as early as 7:00am or as late as 8:30am (an hour and a half long starting window).  This makes it easier to maximize staffing efficiency, and schedules naturally adjust to changes in staffing patterns.  However, it is not as good for employee satisfaction.  Also, with a constant changing start time, there are unique challenges in agents staying on top of what time they are supposed to be at work each day.

    Recommended Solutions:


    Intra-day adjustments, day of adjustments to account for who called out sick, how volumes are trending.  Workforce Management (WFM) in a small call center

    Intraday Management

    Adjust and execute today’s plans based on actual volumes, AHT, and agent call-outs.

    After all of your planning, it is time to execute.  This is day of adjustments.  Intraday management entails managing the queues, making sure agents are following their assigned schedules, and making any day of adjustments based on day of trending.  Based on amount of call outs for the day, and if volume and handle times are coming in higher or lower than planned, you adjust accordingly.  Some adjustments might be moving team meetings, requesting overtime for when volumes trend higher, or solicit extra time off (or even voluntary under time) if volumes are trending lower.

    Recommended Solutions:


    Day after analysis of how did we do with our plans?

    Normally done the day after.  You look over service levels, forecast accuracies, staffing levels and determine how things went, and develop lessons learned.


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