Witness the right, quick way to work

Witness Systems is focusing on an esoteric but growing speciality - workforce optimisation. Stephen Bell reports

Getting the balance between doing things quickly and doing things right is what Witness Systems is all about.

The US company calls this “workforce optimisation” — a term Witness insists it did not invent but was devised by industry analysts.

Witness Systems supplies workforce applications to several major New Zealand companies and government agencies. Now the applications, which are directed at optimising the efficiency and the effectiveness of contact centres, are being integrated by Witness.

But what exactly is workforce optimisation? It involves “walking a tightrope between accomplishing tasks quickly and doing them right,” says Witness’ principal solutions consultant, William Durr.

More specifically, Witness’ principal global market consultant, Oscar Alban, describes it as a combination of:

§ Quality monitoring: checking that a company’s contact centre is meeting customers’ needs

§ Electronically-assisted training to improve workers’ skills

§ Workforce management – workload forecasting and scheduling

§ Performance management – identifying employees’ strong and weak points, and improving the latter through e-training.

Witness Systems was founded in 1988 and originally operated as a quality monitoring specialist. But, in the past two years, it has taken over logging company Airtel, and Blue Pumpkin, whose speciality is forecasting and scheduling. Alban says this means the four facets of workforce optimisation (listed above) can now be offered together by Witness. This saves on both costs and maintenance effort for users.

“[The user] no longer has to integrate four applications; sign four service agreements and go to four different companies for support, [with the inevitable finger-pointing problems],” says Alban.

The four products had previously only been loosely integrated, adds Alban. Advantages of integration include, for example, the ability to feed performance scores into the forecasting and scheduling module. This leads on to being able to roster on staff with the appropriate skills at the right time.

A more tightly integrated release, Impact 360, was released recently which eliminates some of the cumbersome information transfers involved in this type of workforce planning.

Another feature of the integrated application is that the results of performance monitoring — which involves recording what employees say on the phone and what is happening on their screens — can now be captured and used for training purposes. The emphasis here is on examples of good practice rather than bad, adds Alban.

Witness also plans to explore integration of back-office functions in the future.

Potential local users include the Ministry of Social Policy and the Ministry of Justice, as well as insurance company IAG, and Transpower and NZ Post.

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