HR Analytics Summit

OpenConnect CEO Dr. Edward Peters to Speak about the Strategic Contributions HR Pros Can Make with Analytics

Dr. Peters will be featured at the Workforce and HR Analytics Summit West 2015

Dallas, TX, February 24, 2015 – OpenConnect, a leader in workforce intelligence and business process analytics software and services, today announced that CEO Dr. Edward M.L. Peters will be a featured speaker at the Workforce and HR Analytics Summit West 2015, March 9-10 in San Diego. Dr. Peters will focus on how Human Resources professionals can use analytics to increase their strategic value to their business partners.

HR managers can increase their strategic business relevance by providing analytics that are meaningful, comparable and actionable in a timely manner. This requires a deep understanding of the decisions that need to be made, the data science required to provide the insight and how the outcome of the analytics process enables actions to be taken that increase business value. When applied successfully, this approach can deliver tremendous value to the organization and strategically link HR managers to their business partners.

For example, operational executives and human resource professionals have been challenged by the shift that has occurred in the U.S. away from mostly in-house workers to a more remote workforce. In this environment, understanding the actual performance of tasks, the true nature of employee engagement and the potential increases in productivity levels have become far more opaque. Unlike the work environment of the past where workers were managed by line of sight and performance was measured by observable physical output, managing today’s digitally-enabled remote workforce leaves the organization struggling to understand employee productivity and make appropriate staffing decisions.

“Businesses are undergoing tremendous change in terms of workforce composition, for example the mix of in-house vs. remote workers, and the associated issues such as remote workforce management, talent acquisition, compensation, productivity, and engagement are as crucial as ever. In this dynamic environment, human resource professionals are poised to assume an even greater role in the strategic direction of their organization,” said Dr. Edward Peters, Chief Executive Officer, OpenConnect. “Being a strategic partner in this environment requires an understanding of the action that needs to be taken, the decision making process that will enable it as well as the data and analytic tools required for its support. Providing this business-critical information as part of the business decision making process gives HR an important voice and a permanent seat at the table.”

The Workforce and HR Analytics Summit West 2015 takes place March 9-10 at the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa in San Diego, California. Dr. Peters will speak on March 10 from 11:30am – 1:00pm.

 

 

Managers Dilemma: What Are Your Remote Employees Working on?

When are your telecommute associates online? When and how much time are remote employees engaged in a productive work process? You know your people are busy, but with the increasing popularity of work-from-home positions, it can be difficult to evenly measure in-house and remote workers. In this manager’s dilemma, I show you how to quickly customize a Manager’s Dashboard in WorkiQ Workforce Analytics to show which associates are online, and what they are working on, so location is no longer a concern.

This dashboard displays:

  • The online/offline status of each team member
  • The in-process/off-process status of each team member
  • The current processes each associate is working on
  • The current application each associate is in

I also show how to customize your Manager Dashboard.

Request WorkiQ Demo

Manager’s Dilemma: Who Are Your Most Efficient Employees?

Can you identify your most efficient employees in the back-office? Who completes the most work in the least amount of time? Who has figured out the trick-of-trade that you should train to new recruits? In this manager’s dilemma, I walk through a standard Productivity Report in WorkiQ Workforce Analytics, and point out a few key insights that all managers should know.

This dashboard displays:

  • The number of work “widgets” completed by team member.
  • The average time each team member needs to complete a work “widget”.
  • The amount of time each team member was idle, busy in “non-productive” applications, and busy in “productive” applications.
  • The amount of time spent in specific applications.

Request WorkiQ Demo

Don’t Apply Front-office Solutions to Back-office Problems

The Rail Yard and The Airport

The overall structure of work between the front-office and back-office is different.

While this is an oversimplification, call-centers operate much like a train. Call center managers build scripts and lay the track for their operators to move along, and operators are focused on direct interaction with the customer. Typically, tasks within the call center are short, transactional, and repeatable widgets of work. In the back-office, where human interaction is less important, these types of activities should be automated.

Back-office departments such as IT, account administration, accounting, and HR operate in nearly perfect contrast to the call center.

Back-office operations, such as insurance claims departments, function far more like a cargo airline pilot in the remote country. At the start of every day, each pilot receives several packages to deliver by the end of the week. The pilot knows the destination of each package or claim, but based on weather conditions, workload and/or environmental issues the path may vary. Two claims workers making the same run may chart a slightly different course, rely on different instruments, make adjustment based on obstacles, move at different speeds, and require the help of a co-pilot. Typically, tasks within the claims department are long, operational, and specialized widgets of work.

The Workflow

In the contact center, most associates with a similar functional focus perform tasks in a comparable and scriptable sequence. Most processes and sub-processes can be clearly defined in a workflow that all agents within the same department follow. An example of a simple contact center workflow can be found below. In this process, milestones such as the start of a call, completed customer account update, and resolution can be measured.

Generic Call Center Workflow

In most back-office operations, the structure of each work-unit may include measureable macro-level milestones, but variables such as claim complexity, availability of required documentation, each associates experience, and personal preferences make back-office operations difficult to script. For example, all claims may begin when the agent begins editing and end when the claim is submitted for payment. Between the start and end of each full unit of work, or fully processed claim, agents may take a variety of paths as illustrated below. These tasks, or sub-processes to a claim, may centralize around the claims system, but likely require the use of imaging software, email, internal IM/collaboration programs, phone calls, various research websites, and even social media.

Generic Claims Workflow

Use the Right Tool for the Job

While goals such as increasing productivity, finding hidden capacity, cutting costs, improving efficiency, and simplifying processes are shared between the front-and back-office, the methods for collecting meaningful performance data need to vary.

The focus for front-office measurement should be customer engagement, the customer’s perception of service quality, risk reduction, the frequency of call paths, time spent on each call, and the outcome of each call.  Depending on the nature of the contact center, factors such as call rate and upsell statistics may also come into play. This information can help a company identify market trends, test brand messaging, and collect feedback for product development. Data points can be used to identify contact center associates with the highest frequency of positive dispute resolution, or those that nurture the highest degree of customer satisfaction.

Back-office measurement should be improved cycle time, increased employee utilization, and decreased error rates. Desktop analytics and process analytics should measure hours spent on various types of work activities, completed sub-units of work, and process that each worker performs.

Desktop analytics built for the back-office are designed to measure all activity on the desktop, not just activity within the core system (e.g. claims system), and then identify patterns or relationships between applications and processes. Short, repetitive, and transactional processes uncovered through these tools should be automated, and additional gains should be accomplished through training associates to model top performers, increasing engagement through gamification, and reducing the complexity of unnecessarily time-consuming tasks with automatic data propagation or BPI.

To learn more about how your company can improve back-office measurement, please visit openconnect.com.

Request WorkiQ Demo

Automation and Workforce Analytics Offer Relief to Rising Outsourcing Prices

In a recent article featured in Supply Chain World Magazine, I discussed how manufacturing innovations, specifically large-scale 3D printers, are bringing jobs back home to the US. At the same time, computer-based innovations in process automation and workforce performance management are helping companies to increase productivity of in-house workers and cut the waste of outsourced operations.

Rising Cost of BPO in Offshore

In 2005, a PWC report listed the average salary of US-based call center employees at $19K per year, while their Indian counterparts took home just $7.5K per year. With the allure of low cost of labor, outsourcing operations such as IT, financial services, and technical support have historically allowed companies to reduce fixed costs (fewer FTEs), add flexibility to scale business, and focus on core-competencies at home.

Payscale.com lists a median US-based claims processor salary of $33K/yr., and Outsource2India advertises claims processors between $15K-$22K/yr. per FTE. In a 2010 interview, Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS Research, stated that “in some cases, workers in India are making only about 15 percent less than workers in Nebraska”. Today, [in] “Bangalore many probably earn more.”

While there is still a significant gap in FTE costs between the US and offshore, companies don’t need to look much further than inflation rates to see that the cost advantage of BPO in India is quickly closing. According to World Bank, inflation based on CPI, from 2010 – 2014 in the US was 1.5% compared to 10.9% in India. The cost of an FTE in India is rapidly increasing while US worker compensation has remained fairly stagnant. To further narrow the gap, a rise in the adoption of home workers in the US is helping companies to decrease overhead by as much as 20% when compared to brick and mortar operations (Source: NPR).

As savings decrease, companies are forced to evaluate additional costs/benefits of BPO such as quality difference, lack of direct managerial oversight, frequent labor turnover, brand perception, and IT security. For health plans, the risk of a Protected Health Information (PHI) leak can be catastrophic, and large salary savings are necessary to justify threats.

One of our healthcare payer customers recently replaced 100 outsourced FTEs with 50 US-based direct hires and increased production volumes and quality of work. To maintain competitive advantage, companies need to find lower-cost BPO hubs, automate repetitive processes, or execute operations in-house with greater efficiency and quality.

Enable the Best

Outsourced FTEs are rarely incented to suggest process improvements, lack of direct oversight makes it difficult to identify performance problems, and short-term assignments mean they are not fully invested in your company’s success.

Increasing worker performance is not about adding carrots, finding a bigger stick, or working longer hours. Smarter managers know that to get more work out of a smaller workforce they focus on increasing engagement, maximizing work time, identifying bottlenecks, and training teams based on the actions of top performers.

Whether a company is looking to automate processes or increase workforce performance, the first step should always be measurement. In the AHIP webinar Improving Employee Performance Through Measurement, Ed Peters, Open Connect CEO, and Jim Sinur, formerly Distinguished Analyst Gartner Group, discuss this topic in detail.

Most BPOs provide clients with macro-level production reports pulled from core systems. These reports identify NET production levels, but meaningful workforce performance measurement explains how employees actually spend their work time. Measurement should be automated, and not require laborious self-reporting and activity log. Task-level detail, such as the time spent adding missing details to a customer record, comparing documents in an imaging system, or researching account history can help managers to identify bottlenecks and training opportunities.

Automate the Rest

Not all processes require a human, but BPOs won’t advertise opportunities to reduce FTEs. Process automation software, such as WorkiQ Automation, has seen drastic improvements over the last decade. Back-office operational tasks that are computer-based and repetitive can be automated. Software robots can now perform online research, compare digital forms, create customer records, and execute artificial-intelligence levels of process complexity. By augmenting a portion of labor force with process automation, companies can reduce NET headcount, improve cycle time, and free up employees for higher value-add activities.

A decade ago, insurance auto-adjudication rates around 90% were unheard of. Now, most of the health plans I work with are automating over 85% of their claims on first pass. Significant advancements in process automation are the result of increased form/document digitization, an overwhelming abundance of real-time online data, and detailed process measurement. Today’s software robots not only follow the steps of pre-scripted workflow, they learn from their human counterparts and build a better workflow.

Again, good automation builds on good measurement. Before companies start to automate any process, they need to have a very good sample of data points that explain how top (human) performers would complete the automated task.

Smarter work is achieved through the continuous analysis of the work activities and processes, to ensure automation and performance management outperforms BPO contracts. For more information about WorkiQ Workforce Analytics or WorkiQ Automation, please visit openconnect.com.

Request WorkiQ Demo