Workforce Management - Managing the complexity
Alan Christopherson founded leading Workforce Management and Time & Attendance Solutions provider, Intellinet. When Intellinet was acquired by Ceridian in March 2010, Alan joined the Ceridian team as Director of Workforce Management, bringing all his wealth and experience to bear in helping integrate the solution into Ceridian’s product set.
Against the backdrop of a struggling UK economy and the pressure on business leaders to contain operating costs, in this article Alan discusses how Workforce Management tools can make a tangible difference to reducing people costs.
For most companies, labour cost is by far the largest cost element and hence one that they seek to control at a detailed level. The more challenging the external economic environment, the more companies will focus on controlling this cost, in an attempt to maintain or improve their bottom-line position. However, in a large and complex environment, managing the specific components of that cost is difficult and can often seem uncontrollable. This has led to the development of Workforce Management tools to provide the central control required by Operations Management and simple and intuitive tools for managers to use.
The burden of this cost management falls primarily on the departmental manager, team leader or outlet manager. This covers monitoring hours worked, absence booking, and planning and scheduling of employees for the forthcoming weeks. The increasing legislative requirements and local union agreements can add to the level of complexity.
In industry sectors such as retail and hospitality, the level of complexity is significantly increased by the use of part time workers and variable working hours. This means that managers need tools to help them manage this complexity and comply with the business and legislative environment. In the absence of tools being provided, managers will tend to invent their own and so a plethora of spreadsheets combined with various paper forms will fill the gap. This is fine up to a point, but any organisation with hundreds or thousands of employees will find its managers spending a disproportionate amount of time on back-office functions, there will be a high degree of variability on the accuracy of the data, and inevitably there will be a significant error level.
From a company perspective, the benefits of providing a workforce management tool falls into two areas:
- Data accuracy and compliance: reduced errors, reduced manager time spent on administration and reduced payroll and administration cost. Typically cost savings in the order of 1-2% of labour costs can be expected.
With the system fully implemented the volume of payroll queries has notably dropped and pay-day is now a normal day for us with no increase in telephone calls.
- Improved scheduling and planning: delivery of specific workload plans and quick and easy employee scheduling reduces total labour costs, provides operational control and reduces managers’ time spent on administration. Typically cost savings in the order of 3-5% of labour costs can be expected.
Improved staff scheduling provides a fast and effective mechanism to deploy staff based on availability, cost, workload plans and skill set.Fashion Retailer
In the retail and hospitality sectors in particular, the employee planning and scheduling requirement can be onerous to complete successfully, particular where there are tight budget controls. Without a Workforce Management tool to provide guidance and assistance, the quality of the schedules produced will be highly variable and difficult to control until after the event, when it is too late.