A Eulogy to the Spreadsheet

A Eulogy to the Spreadsheet

By Paul Chance, NICE

Workforce planning professionals love to vilify the spreadsheet. There’s good reason: Spreadsheets are inflexible, lack functionality, and are rarely clean or easy to read. Modern call centers need the ability to adapt and forecast according to fluctuating volume, and CSV files aren’t smart enough to perform up to par.

Nevertheless, they endure. They endure in the face of today’s powerful workforce management (WFM) solutions, which have an unparalleled capability to support complex environments. The latest WFM platforms have the capacity to manage complex timelines, forecast like never before, and track intraday performance. Industry-leading products can coordinate unique scheduling preferences, skills, and capabilities, and call-volume patterns to optimize profits and employee success. Integration capacities incorporate analytics reports, gamification and forecasting to enhance performance.

Traditional Barriers to WFM Solutions

Despite this impressive roster of functions, thousands of contact centers still rely on the lowly spreadsheet for some or all of their workforce management needs. We like to complain about them, but spreadsheets have some real strengths: They’re low-cost and easy to store and update. In addition, powerful WFM systems of the past required a real commitment of time and resources – and a serious financial investment. Many leaders implementing WFM technology for the first time mistakenly believe that one or two people can properly manage the system in their spare time, but customizable functions are often incredibly complex. Expenses arising from hardware, development, and implementation can be a barrier for many.

While the ROI of a WFM system can be massive for many users, these traditional solutions are not always a viable option for call centers that operate on a smaller scale. The big shops race forward while businesses that rely upon manual, spreadsheet-based tools to manage critical tasks, like forecasting and scheduling, often hit a performance plateau.

The Times They are A’Changing

This disadvantage is shifting. Cloud technology and developments in user interface design have caught up with market needs. The cloud has changed the shape of businesses across industries by allowing anyone to manage major projects without going into debt for hardware or maintenance. This same technology also allows us to work from anywhere around the world.

NICE, the worldwide leader in providing solutions that turn structured and unstructured data into valuable and actionable information, recently launched WFM Evolve, a cloud-based platform for workforce management. WFM Evolve was built specifically to marry the strengths of the spreadsheet – lower cost, minimal training, and update requirements – with ease of hosting, all while incorporating the essential scheduling, forecasting, and operational functionalities of the world’s best WFM solutions.
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WFM Evolve is ideal for businesses with 50 to 200 agents because it is lighter and faster than traditional WFM systems. It arrives with essential NICE WFM features, so implementation and setup are complete in minutes. Its user-friendly interface minimizes the need for training, and it operates as a pure SaaS solution, with continuous delivery of features and benefits. This intuitive tool has flexible scheduling models that incorporate skills, call-volume patterns, and employee preferences. Staffing “heat maps,” text notifications, adherence tracking, and expert forecasting are only a few of the top-tier features available to users.

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The spreadsheet has served many of us well over the years, but it is time to move on. The ability to accurately forecast customer demand and single- and multi-skill needs can lead to consistent customer service and retention. There’s no longer an excuse for small or mid-sized operations to fall behind due to limited technology resources. Technology and the industry are evolving, and it’s time to put the CSV to rest.

For additional information please visit http://www.nice.com/websites/evolvewfm/.