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An essential success factor for adhering to budget targets, creating a high level of employee satisfaction and achieving agreed quality standards is efficient and flexible employee resource planning and daily scheduling. However, the more different planning parameters such as locations, qualifications, services and shift models have to be planned and controlled, the more complex and costly it is to achieve an optimum. Workforce Management Systems (WMS) offer software solutions that enable efficient and employee-oriented workforce planning. The large number of providers and the different functionalities make the selection difficult.

Based on our experience, we have created 10 building blocks that should be considered for a successful implementation of WMS.

1.Clearly define goals and requirements

Already the tender can decide on the success or failure of the introduction of a WMS. Without outlining the exact requirements and objectives a customer has for a WMS, selecting the right supplier is extremely difficult. In addition, during the course of the project questions inevitably arise that entail a time and budget risk. Such risks can be avoided by a more precise tender.

2. Do not underestimate the effort of a WFM project

Due to the strong networking of WMS within the operational organisational structure, you create a high level of project involvement in your company. Each department checks whether previously unheard requests for information or work simplifications could be fulfilled by the new system. The resulting communication and coordination effort should not be underestimated. The intersections do not only result on the process-related working level, but at the same time also show the multi-layered connection to other systems, which are used in these departments. Coordination, adaptation and configuration between the individual applications are very time-consuming and complex.

3. Early inventory analysis

In order to be able to formulate the goals you want to achieve with the WMS, it is necessary to know where you are starting from. Because both you and your system provider must be aware of which measures and adjustments are necessary to get you from “A to B” and what it all costs.

– Which systems do I currently use for employee planning and control?

– How many employees should be planned and controlled?

– Do I have my own training department which I can use as a multiplier?

– What is the efficiency of my IT landscape?

These are only examples of possible questions that should be asked before the implementation and preferably even before the tender.

4. Pay attention to system compatibility with other tools

The effort for the introduction of WMS often depends on how many IT solutions are already in operation and with which of these systems the WMS should communicate. This can lead to potential additional expenses, especially when programming interfaces, or even the risk of incompatibility. This can make it necessary to implement analog processes in order to transform the technical interface into a human interface.

5. Early recording of existing processes and SLA´s

With the introduction of a WMS and the associated “if – then – logic” of such systems, it is advantageous to create an overview of current production processes and service level agreements (SLA´s) prior to implementation. This not only enables early clarification as to whether the system is capable of processing very specific production parameters, but also enables rapid system configuration.

6. Divide the project into working groups

Due to the complexity of WMS projects it makes sense to divide them into several working groups. This not only creates a better overview, but also an easier group communication in which the experts and their specific technical terms are also understood. The questions are then put to and answered by the responsible working group.

7. Implementation step by step

Both the new system and the associated new processes will present your organisation with a major challenge. Give your employees time to get used to the surface, logic and processes of the new system. If your schedule and system functionalities allow it, you should separate the introduction of different applications from each other.

8. Convince end users

The success or failure of a system implementation depends significantly on the acceptance of the users. They should be involved in the project at an early stage. Here it has proven to be extremely helpful if you give them the opportunity to test demo versions in order to recognise a feeling for the potential and the benefit. Once individual users are convinced, they will convince you both in the company and at employee representative body.

9. Works council and data protection

If you are planning to introduce a WMS in your company, you should communicate this to your works council at an early stage. It helps to invite the selected system provider to a product presentation in order to be able to explain a technically sound system description. Since you won’t be able to avoid topics such as job descriptions, adapting business processes, or adhering to existing company agreements in the course of the introduction, you should inform works council in good time and comprehensively. It is advisable to discuss all issues relevant to the works council in a separate working group. You should consult a data protection officer at the meetings who will assist you in complying with the requirements. Many works councils have set up committees that deal primarily with IT (e.g. IT Committee). Invite this committee as well and leave lengthy explanation marathons for the whole committee.

10. Consider operational and regional peculiarities

WMS implementation projects are basically very similar in structure. However, operational or regional particularities should not be disregarded. It is important that your project management pays attention to the special features of the project implementation, because bad IT project experiences from the past, fear of job loss or the certainty that affected employees can hardly be moved from their comfort zone must be priced into the project.