I mentioned in my last blog (CLICK HERE TO READ), that my WFM career to date has introduced me to some truly creative, hardworking and intelligent human beings and that over the next few weeks I will be posting some new interviews (CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG to ensure you don’t miss out) with some stand out workforce management professionals.
Following the questions I asked back in 2012 (CLICK HERE for Adrian Hawes Interview and CLICK HERE for Carlos Muñoz) I thought it would be interesting to ask the same questions and see how opinions may have changed.
My first spotlight interview is with Guillermo Edén Rangel López (Check out his Linkedin Profile Here), based out of Mexico and currently WFM Manager for Nearshore en Teleperformance. He has some brilliant insights to share, and like me is super passionate about workforce planning.
Whilst Guillermo’s is fluent in English (gladly because my Spanish is spotty at best) he has often remarked that he wished my blog also had an Español version… interesting idea I may be up for that challenge….
Can you briefly describe your workforce planning team and your role in that team? (Number of planners, agents, main activities)?
I am the manager in charge of the WFM team, and have 2 team leaders directly reporting to me. There is one in charge of long term planning and the other focuses on Short Term Tactical Planning and Real Time management. Under these 2 Team Leaders there is 1 long term analyst, 3 forecasting and scheduling analysts and 4 Real Timers. We deliver service to over 1000 FTEs at 2 different locations and 7 different clients.
As someone who clearly is willing to go the extra step to help fellow WFM professionals in the industry, what inspires you to share best practice?
Since I started in the WFM world, there have always people willing to help, but it can be difficult to always get hold of best practice information consistently. It would be awesome to have all the available resources, easily at our finger tips. I love to share my experiences and knowing that it may help someone at the other side of the world is amazing. I imagine some one in another given country saying: “I learned this from a Mexican guy that I have never seen or talked to, but it actually works”
There are many planners aspiring to move to the next level. How did you develop your workforce planning skills to the point you were ready to start managing?
I had the fortune to work at a Global Command Center and was then promoted as Global Forecaster at one of the biggest financial companies globally. I had the chance to interact with over 10 different vendors at more than 15 countries in the globe and being part of a global WFM team with over 20 team members. This definitely helped me developing my technical skills, learning a bit from everyone I interacted.
Mathematics plays a big part in workforce planning. Has this helped you build better workforce planning capabilities? And if so How?
Absolutely. Mathematics is a day to day tool must for WFM. But more than “just the number”, all the logic’s involved in maths are key factors, to have a clear understanding and then work to develop the plan accurately, with any required adjustment in the middle, based on numbers and the analysis involved.
What’s your greatest workforce planning success story?
A few years ago, I started working at an insurance company, it did not have any WFM structure or processes at all, and was living with poor KPIs. Building a solid WFM team and defining processes and best practices, we were able to make significant changes to get the KPIs on target in only a few months, consistently keeping them on track for the years to come until I left the company. This was not a one person achievement but a team achievement, since we had support from different areas in the organization, which is of the real relevance and importance in any contact center organization.
Sometimes there’s friction between workforce planning and operations teams. What’s the best way you’ve found to create positive interactions between these two areas?
Hmmm, sometimes the plan doesn’t seem to be accurate enough. These frictions are day to day scenarios at any operation. However, conflict (not fighting) is always necessary at any relationship, to know different points of views and find the best solution for the common good. There is no absolute truth on either side, operations nor WFM. It is important to involve each other in analysis or decision taking, which will make both sides opinions appreciated and valuable. It is important to keep in mind, that there is always a process or task owner that must have the final decision. Lastly, a professional and productive relationship between the heads of the teams will be always be important to cascade the same message to the rest of the team. Leading by the example will always work!!
What are the most important skills workforce planners need to be successful?
Math and analytical skills are basic and well known skills required for the profile. The ability to adapt to changes and perform accurate last minute adjustments is also a helpful and common skill. What I would add apart from the regular skills, is a great common sense and willingness to involve with the operation when you are planning. You may have a perfect plan on a spreadsheet, using the most advanced model, but if that is not aligned with what you know happens at the real operational level, that may be the trigger to look for an adjustment. The knowledge and feeling of the operation may save a plan, as basic as it sounds.
If you could teach all the workforce planners in the world one thing, what would it be?
Tech stuff is everywhere these days, so that wouldn’t be it. I would go back to the previous question. Don’t become an expert, but get involved with the operation you are planning. Know their call types and scenarios, which factors trigger your peak intervals, days or seasons. Who are you receiving calls from? What do they want? How urgent is it? Can they call back later? Which external factors are involved? Have a general but clear overview of who are you delivering service to. Some times, that may help you to know if your plan is good or not.
What do you see is the biggest current challenge for workforce planning teams? Over the next 5 years?
Multichannel or omnichannel operations. The Call centers died some years ago. Now we all work at contact centers, with new channels and platforms appearing any given day and I could say that the WFM world is not ready nor solid enough to have a crystal clear understanding to work with omnichannel. Around 5 years ago was the first experience I had with non-phone interactions, chat and e-mail, and during these years I’ve seen interactions coming through SMS, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, mobile apps, kiosks, all these new channels appearing while WFM teams around the world are still struggling with 24 hours SLAs, concurrence, multichannel agents, etc. If this happened during these 5 years, we, as WFM planners, must be ready with innovation, new ideas and adaptability or ready to be outplayed by new technologies.