The key things you need to remember if you're using Excel or any staffing program is to ensure that your minimum coverage matches your expected call volumes and coverage levels based on the Erlang 'C' formula and tools mentioned earlier. It ill behooves you to have too many resources at 2am when you're only expecting 1 phone call and your SLA is 2hrs!
- It might pay dividends for you in this instance to use an outsourced party where your call is answered by the equivalent of a 'order taker' so that the customer at least is able to speak to someone and have an incident opened for them and then their issue is actually only addressed when your staff resume regular operations. Remember the points I've already made about SLA, Tiered Customers and Escalation Matrix'. This actually brings up another point that's worth discussing and that is 'On Call Coverage' which I will address in further posts.
- Scheduling Employees 2000 - a step up from the Excel route is this software package. Published by Guia International, this application is fairly inexpensive and is extremely easy to use. It allows you to input details of a single department or team and ensure that you have the appropriate coverage based on time of day. It has nice print outs and although not fully "web enabled" it is easy enough to ensure that you staff have an up to date copy of the schedule by publishing your schedule online. With the ability to track time and labor costs by the hour and week as you schedule. And simple drag/drop scheduling that allows you to schedule in 15min increments accounting for breaks. You are easily able to see at a glance when your staffing levels do not match up with your required coverage. Now there are a host of other scheduling applications available online and I will try to review some other packages in the coming weeks/months but this one does come highly recommended by me!
- When to Work (W2W) - on the high end side and with a host of features, W2W is a very robust application. It is fully web enabled which means that not only are your staff able to view and access it from anywhere, it simplifies your reporting and control also. It is very customizable and not only has some very good automated staffing calculators based on Skill Based routing and also allows for staff schedules that are restrictive due to other requirements - ie. someone is not able to work evenings on mon/wed/fri but is available any other day. You can input these restrictions into the system and then forget about them as the system will then NOT allow you to schedule them for the times they are unavailable. Notifications are provided to staff whenever a change is made to their shift and you also have the capability of utilizing a company bulletin board - for example, announcing a special schedule due to the staff Christmas Party! - when publishing schedules that impact multiple departments and teams. One of the best features and most useful of When2Work is the ability to have different schedules by diffferent teams/skills all contained inside the same application. The ability to drag drop shifts and providing staff the flexibility of trading shifts with similarly skilled employees is also a great feature. Although significantly more expensive, when you have reached a certain size, having this sort of a tool available to you will prove a definite boon!
I hope that this has been useful information to you - if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me and I will do my best to answer you or at least point you in the right direction.