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Measuring Success for a WFM Operation: Aligning Operations to the WFM Practice

Note from the editors: Interested in learning more on this topic? Join the authors of this article at Contact Center Expo and Conference! They'll be leading a session called Measuring Success in a WFM Practice.

Balanced Score Card

Determining Responsibilities

One of the most common questions asked in any workforce management consulting engagement revolves around what industry best practices exist for measuring success for the workforce management team. It is a complicated question as the workforce management team is often an influencer in the overall key performance indicators (KPI) for the success of the operations they support. In this article, we will discuss which KPI the WFM team has a direct impact and which they hold influence. In addition, we will introduce a few new KPI senior leaders should use to gain a deeper understanding of their operations and the success of their WFM practice.

The first step is to understand who holds responsibility for which KPI. We have worked with many clients over the years and discussed this very topic. The result is that we have put together an influence chart that gives a clearer indication of responsibility. As this is a guide, we suggest that leaders use figure 1 as starting point for discussion across the different stakeholders to align your business across the call center with the workforce management team. In figure 1, we have broken the teams into Operations representing call center operations and Workforce Management (WFM), and have further broken down the different positions within the WFM team as individual contributors to the success of the applicable KPI.

WFM team

(Figure 1)

The real-time management team is responsible for managing the capacity of the call center for day-of operations and in many cases one to three weeks out. They provide real time support to the operations in managing call flow, capacity and monitoring attendance. They may also provide short range scheduling for items such as coaching, meetings or huddles. Further, they may do some day-of or week of forecast adjustments so that the forecast matches the recent trends of the call center.

The Scheduling team provides for the scheduling needs for the call center. In many organizations, they are also responsible for short range scheduling of coaching, meetings and huddles. The scheduling team works closely with the forecasting team to ensure that resources match the demand given by the forecast. Depending on when your operation posts their schedules for the agents, the scheduling team is typically involved in some reforecasting anywhere from two to six weeks out.  In some organizations, forecasting and scheduling are centralized.

The Forecasting team is responsible for forecasting and reforecasting demand, allocations and requirements anywhere from three weeks to six months in advanced typically. Depending on the team’s make-up, it may also include responsibility for capacity planning from one to three years in advance.

Service Level

The first KPI, one of the most often used to measure success in an operation is service level or telephone service factor, (TSF). This KPI measures what percent of your callers receive service within your targeted amount of time. An example would be 80/20, which translates to eighty percent of the calls receiving service within twenty seconds or less. Across all of our discussions with our client’s every group is accountable for the service level and each team needs to work closely together as a team to achieve this KPI.  For this reason, we have given each team full responsibility for this KPI.


Shrinkage is an interesting metric in that many different teams hold influence over the result. Shrinkage has a direct impact on the cost of operations. The higher the shrinkage is, the greater the need for overstaffing to maintain service level and caller experience. Each team holds some accountability to the shrinkage target, however the forecasting team must follow both historical information and the targets that leadership set when they create the forecast and overstaffing requirements. For this reason, they have no influence on the outcome.

The Operations team holds the greatest impact to maintaining the forecasted/target shrinkage number. By managing coaching, training, team meetings and other operational shrinkage to target they are able to have the greatest impact as to whether or not the organization as a whole is successful. Further, by proactively managing unplanned shrinkage such as illness and tardy agents, they hold the key to maintaining success. They are a lead influencer as some aspects of shrinkage are out of their control and they are not able to see impacts directly as it is up to the Real Time team to manage that aspect.

The Real Time team holds some accountability with less influence on the outcome as they must ensure the accuracy on planned shrinkage. Through reforecasting the Real Time team influences shrinkage by managing the planned shrinkage based on real time demand. The Real Time team must balance the needs of achieving caller experience with the needs of the operations to achieve coaching, training and meeting schedules to further develop agents. By monitoring the real time data as well as planned shrinkage targets, they have some influence on the organizations ability to achieve shrinkage targets.

The Scheduling team also has a mild influence on the organizations ability to achieve their shrinkage targets. It is essential that the scheduling team review the forecast to look for opportunities to schedule planned shrinkage. As the scheduling team is often responsible for some portion of the reforecasting activities, especially in the periods that are within the purview of scheduling periods, they must schedule planned shrinkage so that the Real Time team has only minor or emergency changes to make.

Forecast Accuracy

The main responsibility for forecast accuracy rests with the forecasting team as they maintained and analyzed the data that goes into making up the forecast, (historical volumes, average handle time, shrinkage, etc.). It remains their responsibility to set the forecast based on this historical data and to predict both the demand and the resources required to meet those demands. Other teams also have impacts on accuracy as they influence the outcomes.

The Real Time team has influence on the accuracy of the forecast, as they must adjust the day-of operations that may affect historical volumes and how accurate the data is that the forecasting team is using to make their predictions. By managing long calls, adjusting staffing per queue or managing the planned shrinkage, the Real Time team impacts wait times. In this way, they have a lesser influence on the overall forecast accuracy and future forecasting.

The Operations team also holds a lesser impact on the forecast through the management of the agents. Managing average handle time by holding the agents accountable to established targets or call center averages is where the operations has the greatest ability to impact the forecast. In addition, ensuring that agents are being productive and managing unplanned shrinkage to targets as we previously discussed is another aspect of ensuring forecast accuracy.


Schedule adherence is the percent of time that the agent performs their scheduled duties at the times they scheduled to do so. Simply put, it is the amount of time that the agent does what is asked of them, when it is asked of them. Schedule adherence is split between the Operations team and Real Time teams equally. The Scheduling and Forecasting teams do not have any impact on adherence, as this is a day-of operational metric.

The Real Time team affects adherence through monitoring and proactively reaching out to agents and/or supervisors when agents are out of adherence to maintain the integrity of the KPI. The Real Time teams are the eyes on the screen that observe those agents who are on long breaks, not taking their scheduled planned shrinkage when they are scheduled and ensuring that all other activities occur as scheduled.

The Operations team affects the adherence metric by holding the agents accountable to their schedules. By coaching the agents and responding to requests for assistance from the Real Time team, the Operations team shares the responsibility of ensuring that agents are performing their duties according to the scheduled time.


While adherence is a key metric, conformance must also be included. Conformance is the metric used to measure the percent of time that the agent performed their duties versus the amount of time they are required to do it. For example, if an agent is scheduled to work eight hours, conformance measures how much of that eight hours they actually worked. Adherence measures whether they worked when we they were scheduled to do so. Using just one of these without the other does not give a clear picture of productivity.

Similar to adherence, the responsibility for conformance is between with the Operations team and the Real Time team. The Real Time team is there to monitor and report conformance and the Operations team is responsible to coach and manage the agents to ensure they are working the amount of time scheduled.

Call Abandonment

The greatest responsibility for managing the call abandonment rests with the Real Time team. They must monitor the real time performance of the call center and adjust the staffing to ensure that the call abandonment targets are not exceeded. The Operations team has no influence on the ability of the call center to achieve the abandonment targets as they only answer the calls offered to them. Maintaining the staffing levels is within the purview of the Real Time team, though the Scheduling and Forecasting teams have some influence on the results.

The Forecasting team must provide accurate forecasts and the Scheduling team must schedule agents to the forecast so that this KPI is achieved. For this reason, they hold a lesser influence on the outcome as they are measured elsewhere in the matrix for those KPI.

Average Speed of Answer (ASA)

Similar to call abandonment, average speed of answer is another metric that the Real Time team has the greatest impact. The Real Time team again is monitoring and adjusting staffing based on real time results to achieve average speed of answer targets. The Operations team has no ability to influence this metric as again they are only answering the calls offered to them. As with abandonment, the same principles apply for the Forecasting and Scheduling teams.

Average Handle Time (AHT)

The major influencer for average handle time lies with the Operations team. They are responsible for coaching agents and ensuring that they are meeting average handle time targets or predicted averages. Through monitoring in the quality model to identify potential opportunities in agent performance, average handle time is a coachable metric.

The Real Time team affects average handle time through real time monitoring of agent performance and catching long calls. By notifying supervisors of these long calls, it allows them to affect average handle time in a real time manner. For this reason, the Real Time team has a lesser influence on average handle time.

The Forecasting team also holds some responsibility for the impact of average handle time on the overall operations success. By accurately accounting for average handle time in the forecast, they hold some responsibility for the overall success.

Schedule Accuracy/Efficiency

The Scheduling team holds the greatest responsibility for ensuring the success of this KPI. This KPI speaks directly to the team’s ability to set a schedule to the forecast. As the schedule comes from the forecast, the forecasting team holds a low responsibility to the success of the KPI. From a Real Time team perspective, they are responsible for executing the schedule in the day-of operations, so they too hold a low influence to the success of the metric. The Operations team holds no responsibility for the schedule efficiency or effectiveness.


This metric is a real time metric similar to average handle time and average speed of answer. As such, this falls mainly within the purview of the Real Time team. Providing an accurate schedule and forecast means that the Scheduling team and Forecasting team also influence the outcome, but in a much smaller capacity.

Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

The use of customer satisfaction in measuring the effectiveness of the Workforce Management team and the Operations team becomes an acknowledgement based on execution. Much of the customer satisfaction score is based on caller experience metrics such as service level, average speed of answer and abandonment rate. For that reason, it is important to include this metric in the overall scorecard for the Workforce Management team. That said the responsibility within the Workforce Management team is with the Real Time team as this is a measure of real time effectiveness. The Operations team holds the other half of the influence, as they must deliver an effective caller experience that meets the strategic intent of the call center.

Employee Satisfaction

The majority of the employee satisfaction falls within the purview of the Operations team as it relies on the ability of supervisors and managers to mentor and coach effectively. From a Workforce Management team standpoint, having predictable schedules is important to employees and cannot be discounted in the responsibility matrix. Further, how the Real Time team interacts with the agents and supports that predictability is also important. These two teams hold low influences respectively for the overall outcome of this metric.

Now that we have established how each team within the workforce management practice affects the outcomes and success metrics of the call center, we can look at measuring those. Check back next week for part two of this series as we look at balanced scorecards.