With Workforce Management your call center is working harder, more efficiently, and saving operational costs.

Ask these questions before you buy Workforce Management Software

  1. On which operating system platforms does your software run? Is it available as a desktop application as well as a client-server application?
  2. EmPulse will run on any workstation running Windows XP or Vista as a standalone application or as a client server application with the server being Windows 2003 server or greater.

  3. Are schedules and schedule exceptions represented graphically with icons in your software?
  4. Yes they are in both the Operations and Agent interface.

  5. Does the software allow the user to swap an exception code for another on a particular set of schedules, or must this task be performed manually?
  6. We use a concept called collections where agents, or any entity really, are stored in collections rather than the traditional ways where they are tied to groups and supervisors. This allows you more freedom in performing tasks like moving agents between groups, scheduling them for activities, and yes, swapping one exception for another over a range of schedules is possible.

  7. Does your software provide context-sensitive help?
  8. Help is just a click away and relative to the task at hand.

  9. What features does your software offer to facilitate navigation through the system?
  10. We have applied the principles of the Inductive User Interface in the design of the system. Wizards are in place where appropriate and a general top down approach is taken when performing tasks.

  11. What level of expertise does the average user of the system require? Do the interface and its components follow standard format rules?
  12. Essentially the average user needs to understand the basic steps and have a general idea of why they are taking them. Our interface makes it simple to get up and running by quickly forecasting and producing a schedule. From there the steps to managing the workforce are as intuitive as it was to set up.
    The fundamentals of Workforce Management are understood more now than ever and the resources to delve into the weightier concepts are more readily available too.

Architecture

  1. Describe the architecture for single-site and multi-site configurations of your company’s workforce management solution.
  2. EmPulse is a client/server application that can run on a single PC or a Windows 2003 or higher server. The backend is a MSSQL 2005 or 2008 backend which can be either the Express (with limitations) or Standard versions. Updates and upgrades are performed by smart technology that compares the installed version to the version on a local or network share to determine if an upgrade is required. The newer version is then downloaded automatically.

  3. Does the software allow other applications to run on the computer simultaneously, or is the computer dedicated to the workforce management application?
  4. The components of the application are the program executables, a service which handles the data from the ACD, Dailer, or whatever device supplying the call data, and the SQL Server. The service requires minimal resources to run and a properly configured and maintained SQL Server will handle the data.

  5. Does the system have an automated interface for payroll? Which vendor’s products are supported?
  6. We can import or export exception data to or from any system.

  7. Does your software have the ability to track agent activity across multiple time zones?
  8. We are UTC compliant.

  9. Is the system expandable? Can additional features be added later? Are the features fully integrated?
  10. You can purchase just the base system and add on any modules, which are fully compatible, as your needs progress.

  11. Is the system password protected? What levels of system security are available?
  12. The system is password protected with supervisor and agent level security.

Forecasting

  1. Are the software‘s system parameters adjustable for seasonality factors?
  2. Adjustments can be made to account for seasonality across narrow or broad time periods.

  3. Does your software maintain history in periodic interval increments (such as 15 or 30 minutes), or are statistics stored on a daily basis?
  4. Historical data can be stored by user configurable 15 or 30 minute increments as well as daily.

  5. Does your product have the ability to provide “what if” forecasting scenarios for 15 or 30 minute intervals, days, weeks, months, and for multiple years?
  6. You can create as many forecasts as you want and choose to use the one that suits you the best.

  7. Can the weighting of the history data that is used for forecasting be user- defined?
  8. The graphical interface allows you to weight the call history data by day week or month.

  9. What assumptions are made in cases where limited or no historical data are available?
  10. We have algorithms that will simulate interval and daily call data based on your estimated volume. It’s one of the features that gets you up and running in hours instead of days or weeks.

  11. Are historical growth rates used when forecasting?
  12. Historical growth rates can be applied at the DNIS/Split/Queue level which gives you more flexibility in the forecast.

  13. Can the user define a growth rate that is different from the historical growth rate?
  14. If historical data is available then the growth rate will be suggested by the system but can be altered by the user.

  15. Does your system allow the user to specify any day of the week as the first day of the week?
  16. First day of the week is a user defined value.

  17. Can the supervisor modify a forecast? How is this performed?
  18. We allow you to alter any data in the system. We protect you from mistakes by keeping iterations of the data and allowing you to step back. Intra-day reforecasting is also a feature that allows you to react to changes in volume by reforecasting during the day.

  19. How long is historical information stored? How far back in history will your forecasting software reference data?
  20. Data is stored indefinitely. The date ranges are user defined when forecasting.

Scheduling

  1. To what level of granularity (in minutes) may schedules be edited and stored?
  2. Schedules can be edited down to 1 minute.

  3. Describe how work shifts are assigned to employees.
  4. Shifts are assigned en mass, individually, or through bidding.

  5. Does your system allow for cross-midnight scheduling (schedules that cross the midnight hour)?
  6. Yes.

  7. How is non-phone related work scheduled?
  8. EmPulse can forecast and schedule to chat, e-mail, or any other kind of non-phone activities. We also have a feature called Computer Monitor which accumulates other agent activities and stores them for forecasting

  9. How many agents can be scheduled at a time?
  10. There is no limit

  11. Does your system have the capability of allowing for 5, 10, or 20 minute break periods, instead of the standard 15?
  12. Breaks and lunches can be scheduled down to 1 minute intervals

  13. Is there a way that your system can automatically ensure that there is a schedule for full and part timers and that the shifts meet the forecast staffing requirements by time of day?
  14. Yes.

  15. Can the system create schedules in order to ensure that the service level is met in every increment of the day?
  16. Yes

  17. Can schedules be edited or changed for future periods, including the day of the schedule?
  18. Schedules can be changed in the past, present and future.

  19. How are part-time, full-time, and temporary employees scheduled?
  20. The needs of the business are foremost when it comes to the optimization of schedules. The optimization and assignment process understands the limitations or constraints, of part-time, full-time, and temporary employees and the number of hours, days, etc., that they can work.

  21. List the different ways schedules can be sorted on screen.
    • Employee name
    • Shift Start
    • Group
    • Break or Lunch start
    • Exception start

  22. How are known exceptions to the schedule incorporated before the scheduled week?
  23. Known exceptions are added to a seperate table and applied when the schedule is generated.

  24. How is a schedule created for an agent dedicated to outbound calls or other, non-phone activities?
  25. There are two scenarios where this might happen.

    1. The agents are only handling outbound calls so the requirements are generated against that demand and the schedules are created to handle that load alone.
    2. The workload is blended between inbound and outbound. The requirements are forecasted to meet the blended demand and the agents are assigned to schedules to handle both loads.

    In EmPulse we can gather non-phone activities apart from the ACD or Dialer and use that data to forecast demand. Computer Monitor is perfect for gathering PC activities and using it to forecast and for adherence.

  26. For how many weeks can schedules be created at one time?
  27. For as long a time as you desire.

  28. How does the system handle different schedule start times?
  29. Scheduled start times can be as granular as 1 minute increments but is typically set up in 15 minute starts. You can set it up in whatever way suits you best.

  30. Can the system prevent breaks from being scheduled too closely together?
  31. The distance between breaks and lunches, and other activities is user defined

  32. What is the maximum number of schedules that can be created?
  33. There is no limit.

  34. How many breaks (paid or unpaid) can be defined in a shift?
  35. Up to 5 breaks and lunches can be defined for each shift.

  36. Does the system accommodate employees who work split shifts?
  37. Yes

  38. What long-range planning tools are available to determine the numbers and types of schedules needed for future requirements such as seasonal demand, or special marketing promotions?
  39. The forecasting process allows for seasonality trending.

  40. Can your system schedule group activities, such as training or meetings?
  41. Exceptions can be applied to one or more individuals, groups, or to collections of agents.

  42. Can your system handle rotating shifts over a period of weeks? What are the limitations?
  43. Yes, schedule rotations are one method of scheduling. Limitations can best be answered with a more specific question.