Before you Leap into Multi Skill, Look at your Center

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Multi skill is an Aspect Workforce Management configuration option that lets you model skill based contact routing in forecasting staffing requirements, scheduling, and tracking intra-day performance.  The purpose of a multi skill configuration is to allow contact centers to strategically manage a cross trained workforce and obtain efficiencies as well as savings for payroll costs.  On paper, it sure sounds good.  The reality is when most corporations look to utilize skill based routing calculations in Workforce Management it becomes muddled and hard to manage.  With a multi skill routing set, the calculation of required staff (in fact, the definition of required staff) is fundamentally different from that of a single-skill routing set. This difference affects both the methods and the results of forecasting, scheduling, intra-day performance and segment optimization.

Before you change your routing set, there are a few considerations that will help you get the most out of a multi skill configuration.  You must first have an understanding of what you expect from Workforce Management.  A fundamental problem is to define your strategy on how you want your calls to be handled by agents and not model how it is happening today.  In other words, just because it what is happening, is it truly the best way?  Other considerations include:

Size of staff groups

We have all heard that the larger the staff group the more efficient it will be.  Ignoring the powerful pooling principle will force Workforce Management to apply algorithms and run simulations using a very fine level of detail thus creating a larger margin for error.   Therefore, it is always recommended to create staff groups that are twenty or more to receive the full benefits of your configuration.

Define workload in the multi skilled model 

Understanding the workload of the agent pool will assist you in defining the additional parameters within the application for modeling.    Baseline strategies can be as simple as defining which call types an agent is expected to handle during a shift and which call types you would utilize agents for JIT (Just in time) strategies.

Understand the ACD routing  

Contacts that are routed to an agent after they have been in queue or met other ACD thresholds cannot be modeled within the application.  These post call routing strategies are designed to get the call answered after the service level goals cannot be met.   The purpose of Workforce Management is to staff to meet service level objectives; therefore it is easy to see where the two would disconnect.

Check your processes

Who is able to make skill/application changes to the ACD agent profiles?   How is that translated to Workforce Management?   How is Workforce Planning Analysts notified of contact routing changes?  Do you have a solid intra-day performance management process for segment entry and reforecasting?  How often are staff groups and ACD profiles audited to insure accurate modeling?  All of these questions need to be answered before you move to a multi skill routing set.

Once you have an understanding of your multi skill environment and have built your routing set are you done?   Unfortunately this is not a “set it and forget it” type of environment.   It is a good practice to periodically review your staff groups, agent skill sets and ACD routing to insure your configuration best models your current situation.