Operational Scheduling and Tactical Planning for Call-centers
Call-centers management workforce solutions
Two French partner companies that focus on delivering outsourcing, customer relations and marketing services to companies. Among their service offerings is that of managing call centers for French speaking customers. They are based in France and Madagascar and their total workforce is about 2,000 employees. The companies wanted to leverage advanced analytics and deploy an intelligent decision-making tool to support their call-centers workforce planning and scheduling needs in terms of: 1. Short-term operational scheduling: how to best assign tasks to employees for the coming few days and with a granularity of a few minutes 2. Mid-term tactical planning: how to best plan workforce deployment for the coming weeks In the past, both tactical and operational processes were done manually with multiple Excel files managed by the human resources department. The processes were time-consuming and due to the complexity tended to focus on subsets of activities, limiting the possibility to have a global view of the generated plan for all employees (2000+) and all activities (80+). Additionally, the process relied heavily on the expertise of a few key senior planners. DecisionBrain was asked to develop a planning and scheduling solution that could generate optimal plans in minutes covering the whole workforce. The workforce solution was structured around two modules, one for operational scheduling and one for tactical planning, that integrate one into the other enabling a better alignment between the different planning horizons.
Operational Scheduling: maximize demand coverage and productivity, respecting labor regulations and aligning with employees’ preferences
The operational scheduling module was designed to provide an optimize schedule for a two-week horizon with a granularity of 15 minutes.This module delivers optimization along two dimensions:
- Detailed Activities Scheduling, assigning to each employee the optimal activities in order to maximize demand coverage while respecting the employees’ skills and preferences, and ensuring consistency with the tactical plan.
- Shift Design, defining and optimizing each employee’s shift start and end time, breaks, days off, while respecting the very complex country-specific labor regulations, and taking into account employees’ preferences and consistency with the tactical plan.
Tactical Planning: Demand forecast for tactical planning
The tactical planning module takes demand forecasts as input and generates an optimized plan over a three months time horizon with a granularity of one week. This plan is then used as input into the operational module to ensure alignment between short-term scheduling and mid-term planning. The Tactical Planning module delivers optimization across different dimensions:
- Activities Planning, assigning to each employee the optimal primary activity in order to maximize the demand coverage while respecting the employees’ skills and preferences
- Skill Design, proposing skills that employees could acquire to maximize demand coverage and productivity, taking into consideration the employees’ training plans and learning curves
- Hiring Planning, providing hiring suggestions for specific competencies activities
- Leaves of Absences (LoAs) Planning, distributing each employee’s LoAs across the planning period to maximize demand coverage and productivity while respecting labor regulations and employees’ preferences.
Operational schedules and tactical plans can be run in a matter of minutes, allowing planners to test different scenarios. Additionally within each Module, planners have access to a set of parameters and can easily tune the optimization, generate alternative solutions, compare them, and select the best one. They can also then manually edit the solution and run a set of checkers to quickly verify the overall consistency of their edits.
Results led to +20% demand coverage compared to manual plans and compute optimal plan in minutes instead of days.
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