Competing Metrics – You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too
Author: Michael Pistone, Business Analyst
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. For some strange reason, there is an underlying impression that a workforce management software solution will magically solve every operational problem. It’s not true. There will be instances and occasions where sacrifices will be made based on the scheduling logic. I should clarify. Overall, you will see improvement across all metrics with a WFM solution, but my keywords are “instances” and “occasions.”
Here’s an example:
Let’s say we have a business goal to reduce costs. There are many metrics that are associated with cost reduction, but for this example we’ll use two. The first is reduction of overtime costs. The second is reduction of SLA penalties associated with missed appointments. Overtime and missed appointments compete with each other.
Let’s assume our resources work an 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. shift and after some analysis, we see that most jobs that start after 4:30 p.m. result in overtime. We can configure the optimizer to never schedule a job after 4:30 p.m., limiting the opportunities for overtime pay. However, in this scheduling decision, the optimizer will sacrifice a job that has a due date at 5 p.m. today. Overtime and Missed Appointment metrics compete with each other.
Now, if your field resources are abundant (I chuckled to myself as I wrote that), the optimizer would not have to make this decision. In most organizations that I work with, resources are at the bare minimum to support daily operations. When you apply in-day variability that sabotages the schedule (resource calls out sick, emergency work), metrics will compete.
So how do we sort it out? By weighting objectives within the scheduling logic. The key thing to remember is that the computer will do exactly what we tell it to do. So, if I weight the restriction of overtime at a value of 100 and weight the scheduling decision to avoid missed appointments at 0, we’ll see a ton of missed appointments but overtime costs will be eliminated.
Now it gets really tricky. If our weighting is not absolute (100 vs. 0) as the scenario I described above, we see a combination of overtime and missed appointments occurring. When we start to add in other competing metrics associated with reducing costs, the outcome is complicated even further.
So if you are just launching your WFM solution or if your schedule doesn’t look right, simplify your scheduling logic. Identify your primary business goal and most importantly, understand the associated cost of overtime vs. the associated costs of missing the appointment, as well as other competing metrics that may impact the scheduling decision.