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Calculating FTEs, CPTs and Other Budgeting Principles

It’s never too soon to take control of your contact center’s budget, or begin planning for the months ahead.

And though it may only be Q3, many businesses are already ramping-up their plans and forecasts for next year - and the ICMI community has been buzzing with concerns. Here are a couple of the top questions ICMI’s consulting and training experts have been asked:

What is the best way to calculate full-time equivalents (FTEs)?

When it comes to figuring out exactly how many full-time agents you’ll need for a given timeframe, the Erlang C formula is a good place to start. (Try downloading ICMI’s QueueView Staffing Software for Windows, which uses Erlang C and Erlang B calculations). But even with the most sophisticated staffing tools, it helps to have a clear understanding of your overall staffing needs will really help in terms of nailing down your budget.

What is the best way to calculate cost per transaction (CPT)?

While there are many ways to calculate your CPT, ICMI Senior Trainer Rose Polchin says the simplest equation is this: total costs divided by total transactions. "However," Polchin notes, "what goes into total costs and total transactions is clearly the more challenging question."

Polchin goes on to say, "The key is to choose what categories you will include in costs, determine whether you are going to calculate costs for different call types, different channels, etc. and then track and trend the result. The trending is what will be of significant value. One word of caution though: You may actually see cost per transaction rise when you improve processes. Why? Well, if you are successful in reducing calls/transactions that were the result of errors that now no longer occur, your costs may initially stay the same (short term) and yet the number of transactions goes down, making the cost per transaction higher."

She also suggests checking out ICMI’s Cost-Per-Transaction Spreadsheet - a low-cost, downloadable tool - to assist in calculating.

7 Principles of Call Center Budgeting

What makes for an effective budgeting process? Brad Cleveland points out that the best-managed contact centers follow these seven basic principles.

Cleveland says, "A budget can be defined as a summary of proposed or agreed upon expenditures for a given period of time, for specified purposes."

An Effective Budgeting Process:

    1. Is based on an understanding of the call center’s value
    2. Is driven by the customer access strategy
    3. Is a seamless extension of resource planning
    4. Identifies resource/results tradeoffs
    5. Maximizes cross-functional resources
    6. Builds understanding of the call center environment
    7. Is honest, responsible and visible

These seven principles are just part of the story. Some other great staffing and budgeting resources include:

12 Traits of the Best Managed Call Centers
Calculating and Budgeting Call Center FTE Requirements

Christina Hammarberg is the former associate editor at ICMI.