Extending WFM into the Back Office is Easier with A WFM Center of Excellence

Nicole NevulisMay 26, 2022

My last blog, Extending WFM Into the Back Office: Integrating WFM Practices, focused on educating your back-office managers on standard workforce management (WFM) practices and how to adopt them for their environments. In this blog, I focus on how to bring it all together into a unified, WFM Center of Excellence (CoE).

Your implementation isn’t just technical; it’s evolving the way of working by providing consistent capabilities and processes. A new way of working makes it easier for leaders in the chain of command to make decisions that guide employees to execute efficiently and effectively – balancing operational costs and customer needs. Successful organizations are able to unify their workforce management programs by:

  1. Positioning the initiative around modernizing the way the organization makes decisions on managing people and the work – with consistent processes and the technology to support it.
  2. Collecting a baseline of the management practices across different back-office teams to identify the organization’s current state and opportunities that workforce management practices and tools will unlock for the business.
  3. Capturing the pain points of leaders across multiple levels of the organization and the challenges they wish they could solve.
  4. Leveraging the information collected to present what they heard to the business, and then connect their insights to how workforce management practices and tools will help them.

Doing this pays dividends. It reduces friction and increases adoption because your project team engages with the people impacted by the changes. The project team gains a deeper understanding of the organization and, as a result, earns the business area’s trust.

A WFM Center of Excellence

A great starting point for extending WFM into other parts of your organization is to implement a WFM Center of Excellence (CoE) to more effectively adapt, operationalize, and sustain the new way of working. CoEs are not a new concept, as many disciplines and technologies have them and have reaped the benefits. Over the past 16 years, we have found that successful organizations include these most common elements in their WFM CoE.

WFM Center of Excellence: Common Elements in an Initial CoE Build
CoE AreaItemDetails
WFM Tools & ProcessesWFM Administration·       Specific team – not the front-line business users – ensures the health and integrity of your software configuration.

·       Scrutinize the whys and value of requests for changes, not just make a change because of a business ask.

Daily Huddles

 

·       Positive collaborations drive desired outcomes. Managers use unbiased data-driven information to praise, communicate expectations and provide coaching.

·       Plus, managers can ask employees how they can support them versus engaging with data as a ruler.

Multi-Level Leadership, “State of the Business” Meeting·       Ensure higher-level leaders are conversing with front-line leaders to drive the outcomes and benefits of WFM practices and solutions.
Governance & OversightBusiness Area Champion·       A COO, SVP, or VP is needed to drive the chain of command to adopt and operationalize.
Steering Committee·       Oversight: making decisions, preventing overengineering, and clarifying the right business processes to move forward with. It prevents activities and decisions that undermine progress and deriving benefits.
Focus Group·       A cross-functional team (IT, Project, WFM Admin, and Business Users) working together to make better decisions on application configuration because they understand the constraints and needs of each area, helping to eliminate blind spots that cause rework. Increased accuracy improves the acceptance of data, speeding time to value.
Operationalize & Drive Continuous ValueChange Management·       When starting from no WFM, you need to double-down on change management and communicate frequently. If not, business users will jump to their own conclusions that frequently decrease their willingness to change.
Enablement·       Focus on defining and enabling the skills required to be effective – people engagement, process execution, and utilization and interpretation of data with the technology. It allows the organization to maximize the value of a WFM solution.
Adoption·       A 4–6-week period after rollout supporting the business in its use of WFM, execution of processes, and application of decision making will shorten the learning curve and entrench the desired behaviors as habits.

 

The above is a cheat sheet of essentials that combat common friction points. The common stumbling point is that organizations will try to build the perfect CoE at the start, extending the time it will take to launch and drive value with WFM.

Successful organizations take the progress, not perfection, approach and evolve it as they see WFM in action.

In my next blog, I’ll tackle the back-office maturity path for implementing WFM in the back-office operations.