How Workforce Management Has Evolved
Workforce management technology has been around since personal computers became commonplace in the early 1980s, and three decades on it, like computers themselves, has evolved considerably.
From those early days of workforce planning, the technology has become faster and more sophisticated, and gone are the times of setting the system to calculate your forecasts while you go for lunch or home for the night.
These days, workforce management technology is sleek and streamlined – but it wasn’t always that way.
In the 80s, workforce planning was almost purely about managing your shift patterns – and the system was as much a place to store holiday requests as anything else.
The idea was to make it easier to see who was working and who wasn’t, but with reports taking hours to generate, and the technology to do so limited to only the biggest organisations, workforce management was fairly niche during its infancy.
However, the clear benefits of the technology were enough for it to take hold, and it was only a matter of time before it would evolve to become more responsive.
The 1990s were a time of huge change for all computing, with the widespread uptake of internet connectibility and the ‘global village’ that resulted.
As a consequence of this, there were changes that arose from outside the sphere of workforce planning itself; companies became global megabrands, commerce became more complex, and people all over the world had more reason to want to get in touch with your contact centre.
Computer technologies were advancing rapidly, with much faster and cheaper hardware, meaning workforce management technology became a reality for companies of all sizes.
The new millennium continued the evolution of the internet, this time with ultra-fast broadband connections becoming the norm.
Innovations like cloud computing and software as a service meant that, by the end of the decade, many technologies were being delivered online, rather than being installed as a hardware device on-site.
For workforce planning, this rise of flexible, software-based technologies makes good sense, allowing workforce management systems to adapt and respond to the changing size and capabilities of a modern flexible workforce.
Where are we now? Well, workforce planning technology is commonplace in organisations of all sizes, in one form or another.
Far from those early days of acting as a calendar for staff holidays, modern systems can forecast sickness and other absences, as well as ensure you have the right individual employees scheduled to bring the necessary balance of the right skills to each shift.
It’s an ever-evolving discipline, and cloud-based solutions are rising in popularity all the time – raising the question of where we will be in another 30 years’ time.