Friday, March 1, 2013

Workforce Optimization (WFO) and Worker Optimization are NOT the same

For these last few years, as I have watched OpenSpan grow (130% increase in license revenue last year), I have been lucky enough to help educate a number of executives on why "Worker Optimization" is an important differentiator to WFO. WFO is not new and that's obvious but why do people think that WFO is typically the main route to take when you are looking to optimize your workforce?

WFO typically takes a swathe of workers (or call center agents) and attempts to break them down into their refined areas of expertise and efficiency levels. It might even go so far as to help identify processes those workers follow and suggest alternatives or retraining. WFO then starts to match the necessary tasks or calls to the correct workers with the right skills and proficiency. WFO also makes sure you have enough workers around as peaks and troughs in demand occur and helps ensure you don't have people sitting idle for too long. All good. Nothing wrong with WFO.

However, when you break it down to the actual worker, all the worker primarily uses to do their work is a computer, a keyboard, a screen and a mouse. I know I'm pointing out the obvious, but bear with me, this is going somewhere! Through all of the screen navigating, searching, clicking and typing at the desktop, a worker can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes to hours or days to complete their tasks or complete a call with a customer. The worker (human) is really only as fast as they are at their keyboard and mouse. Their desktop applications and complexity may contribute to their work taking longer along with their own ability and speed. The desktop is "where People and Technology meet" and represents the place where the real work is done today and thus, the biggest cost to the business.

What then, could we accomplish, if we could make the interaction between the people and the technology better? That's where Worker Optimization is realized, through Desktop Automation - making the worker better and faster and as well as more accurate. If it takes 15 minutes for a worker to complete a task normally, but with Desktop Automation assisting in the task, it only takes 5 or 10 minutes, wouldn't that be where the real value comes from?

So whilst WFO is important, if the workforce is not optimized, you are not getting the biggest part of the value. You are leaving massive amounts of money on the table if the worker needs 15 minutes to do something that could take just 5 minutes. Every second truly counts in the workforce and for some customers, a one second reduction on every call or task can mean millions in savings. Imagine then, reductions of minutes or hours. That's what Desktop Automation delivers. It takes what your workers already do and speeds it up through automation - right there on the desktop - where your people and your technology meet.

WFO should be used around an optimized workforce. Priceless.

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