Here at Douglas Jackson we have seen a great deal of change across Resource Planning over the last few years; What was once seen as something akin to dabbling in the dark arts, Resource Planning has now established itself as a professional career in its own right.
A professional Resource Planning function is now critical to the success of a modern customer contact operation and as the wider business community also starts to recognise the benefits and utilise the skills of your planning team, the challenges and requirements for today’s Resource Planning professionals has never been greater.
So, what can you do to stay ahead, achieve better personal development and career opportunities? We asked some of the trusted resource planning leaders and subject matter experts for their top tips:
- Expand your horizons: it is very common these days for planning jobs to have a wider remit, scheduling, real-time management, reporting, technology are all examples of this. The best way is to make sure you spend time learning new fields so that when it comes to a potential opportunity, you are not left with an area of inexperience but can offer an understanding of multiple areas (understandably to different levels of expertise).
- Expand your knowledge: whilst the contact centre industry is relatively new, people optimisation in other industries has been around a lot longer. So whether you are looking at best shift patterns for productivity, absence management, right time forecasting, there is a wealth of information in other industries that is relevant to contact centres. Benchmarking also plays a critical role both within contact centres and other industries.
- Focus on management and leadership. Our discipline has a habit of producing fantastic talent with deep expertise, however, this needs coupling with excellent leadership and management skills to be most effective. Leadership like anything else comes more naturally to some than others, but it can be learnt. Focus on it with as much important as your core functional skills.
- You need to have a hunger to constantly keep learning….from the new person who has just joined your team, from the people you work with every day, from the wider industry around you – there is an unending source of learning for resource planners today. We are still a relatively immature industry – no-one has all the answers. However, there are people and organisations doing great things – get out and see them and talk to them. Use and adapt what others are doing to improve your own team – there is absolutely nothing wrong with plagiarism. The day you stop looking for that learning (inspiration) is the day you and your team stand still… and that’s the day that your organisation will start to question the value you bring.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment but more importantly…don’t be afraid to fail. There is nothing wrong with trial and error…as long as you learn from the mistakes that you make. Making mistakes is, in my view, a critical part of developing and honing your skills as a planner. It’s as important to know what doesn’t work as what does. Radical experiments can often generate the most surprising results and give you the greatest learning experiences.
- Success in planning really comes down to engagement and communication. The best planners, in my view, are those that are able to translate complex models and numbers in to very simple, actionable messages to their stakeholders. Those stakeholders would include anyone from the front-line handler to the Board – and the ability to adapt the messages appropriately to those different stakeholders is also key. Concentrate on being able to tell a simple, compelling story off the back off your planning – it will enhance the value of you as an individual and your planning team
- Know your customers, why do they contact you, when do they contact you, how do they contact you and how many times do they contact you. This all seems obvious but it’s the simple things that can make the biggest difference. Knowing all of this will allow you to build a logical forecast that, after the event, will allow for a proper reconciliation of the plan to the actual facts. This will be a valuable source of information for future planning.
- Never have only one plan, have a contingency plan too. Nothing ever goes to plan smoothly so you need to know what to do, and when, in the event of unforeseen circumstances occurring. This will involve deploying a set of chronological tactics depending on the severity of the apparent issues and the likely duration to address all the ‘what if’ scenarios
- Reiterate. Always plan well in advance but tweak your plans as D day draws near based on actual events. That said, you will need to give your stakeholders the best opportunity to achieve the plan through giving timely notice of anything that will materially impact their operations performance – Be pro-active at all times. People will accept a challenge but rarely react well to shock. No surprises!
What do you think? We would love to here from you about what might have worked for you in your Resource Planning Career, or your top tips for other planners, do share your thoughts and comments here: