To Each Her Own, Adoption Curve for WFM
In my previous blog, we saw a future in which companies had “adapted to the self-service culture that took over the world in the mi
d-2010’s” – alluding to a world in which service decisions and interaction had become primarily automated activities. Now let us step back into the world of today’s non-fiction to highlight the adoption curve for optimizing workforce management in service operations. And specifically to address the question of the “path” and “goal” – which does and should vary by organization.
We can start with two keys to streamlining service planning and execution:
Automation: of processes and decisions in the service delivery chain
Optimization: achieving the best possible decisions in the service delivery chain
Obviously not all processes and decisions can be automated, and judging the “optimality” of some decisions is difficult. That said; let us agree on two long-term goals, even if we don’t believe they are easily achieved, which drive towards more efficient and effective service:
Goal 1: Automate and optimize as many of the service decisions and workflow as are possible
Goal 2: Achieve Goal 1 across every level (strategic, tactical, operational) in the organization
If we can envision a graph in which Goal 1 provides the vertical axis, and Goal 2 the horizontal axis, then we may also plot several companies (C1 – C6) whose adoption of fully automated and optimized decisions for all aspects of workforce management can be described as in Figure 1.
The first and expected message of the chart is that different companies are in different ‘places’ depending on everything from their industry, competitive landscape, IT budgets, and many other factors. The more subtle but equally as important message is that depending on the nature of your service organization, and all of those other factors – targets for a resting place will, and should vary.
Finally and most importantly (author’s opinion), the message of the chart and this Clickipedia entry is to suggest that each company should identify where it is on the chart (relative to service best practice), where it wants to be, and the key time-based milestones to achieve it. After all, if we want to have a 5-year vision for our service organizations, then the “How” of achieving scalable growth including supporting it and acquiring it via service excellence.
As you further define your service vision, below are a few examples of ‘transformation profiles’ (referring to Figure 1). Each company has addressed some aspects of their service delivery chain, automating and optimizing various processes and decisions.
C1: A Telco / Broadband company had large fluctuations in workload due to continuous marketing plans and expanding territories. With strong performance metrics overall (although relying on a legacy process and system for scheduling), it first addressed Demand Forecasting and Resource & Demand Planning. The company’s service vision includes further expansion both across the service chain, and greater levels of automation and optimization over the next 5 years.
C2: A Capital Equipment company services high-end, mission-critical, and complex machines for customers that make purchase decisions based largely on service levels. The first step in achieving its service vision was go gain visibility and control of the workforce, which they did by introducing semi-automated processes from scheduling to monitoring. A philosophy that “every job requires a human touch” defines the company’s service vision to broaden attention across the service chain, with less focus on automatic or optimized decisions.
C3: An Energy Utility has long planned to address all aspects of the service chain, but didn’t initially know what level of automation and optimization was achievable, especially for the construction work. After achieving sufficient productivity increases and control from the operational aspects of the service chain; the company consolidated the strategic level processes and decisions for workforce planning 6 to 20 months out. The next focus executing on the service vision includes expansion of the transformation to additional workforces.
C4: A Business Equipment company serves a highly sensitive customer base which relies greatly on the trust established between the field resource and the customer. While initially automating a high level of scheduling decisions, the company restricted the level of optimization purposely to ensure high levels of continuity between jobs. The first steps also transformed the company’s ability to measure and analyze performance. Next up are improved field communication strategic workforce deployment decisions.
C5: A Home Services company focused on its operational level decisions for many years, refining and improving scheduling, dispatch and monitoring processes and decisions. After achieving all that seems possible there, the company expanded its service improvement focus on workforce planning decisions and performance management, followed by a focus on demand planning to improve their forecast accuracy.
C6: A Telco / Broadband company is at the top end of the vertical scale and has breadth across the entire service chain. The company’s journey has been long but has addressed nearly all of the processes and decisions at great depth, from strategic to operational levels. Further, there is alignment all along the service chain because the company had created a service vision and a plan to achieve it. While the plan changed, much of it has been achieved. It continues to find innovative ways to improve its service, and specifically looks towards other service leaders, in and out of its own industry to for a ‘better best practice than ours’.
The last example highlights a critical lesson of the ‘oldest and wisest’ of service leaders that have accomplished much of the vision to which we aspire. Achieving service excellence is a journey, which is difficult but achievable – wherever on the chart your company aspires to be. I would add that even high-level milestones and timelines can provide us a plan. The plan may not be perfect, but any plan provides some direction and continuity to all of the participants over the entire journey.
Categories:Workforce Management Trends