Think of your business as a ship. You need to make sure everything is running correctly to ensure you stay afloat – however, there's no use sailing if you have no clear idea of where you're headed, or how you're getting there. Your operational plan will be the lighthouse that reminds you which way to go, and highlights any potential dangers that could arise in the near future.
An operational plan details the actions your different teams or departments must carry out to achieve short-term targets and objectives of the company, and is essential in effective workforce management. This plan is updated depending on your needs.
This should comprehensively cover:
Operational plans tend to be updated fairly frequently, while strategic plans remain largely unchanged.
An operational plan ensures that a benchmark is in place for the meeting of these short-term objectives, and that you can refer to it in case of risks or to confirm that the day-to-day output of the company is on track with your targets. Depending on the size of a contact centre, sometimes multiple plans are executed for different departments to ensure everyone is on the same page.
What are the differences between strategic and operational plans?
While an operational plan focuses on short-term goals, a strategic plan embodies a long-term outlook for your contact centre, projecting from 12 months to around five years ahead. As a general blanket overview for your entire company, a strategic plan considers what projects or opportunities you'll need to take on to meet your long-term goal, and what changes need to be implemented throughout to support this. Operational plans tend to be updated fairly frequently, while strategic plans remain largely unchanged unless there's a major review.
Having an operational plan is crucial. It's an all-star playbook for your business – reviewing the performance of key staff members through quality management, and recognising how the overall team can work together to meet targets. Without an operational plan, you're out of the league.
Being able to update and refer to a plan enables comprehensive understanding of goals.
An operational plan ensures you can identify areas that aren't generating as much revenue as they should, or are causing losses, and can help you establish what needs to change. Being able to continually update and refer to a short-term plan enables a comprehensive understanding of what the goals are and provides a guide for every step of the process. As a result, your agents should be well aware of what's expected of them and with the right tools self-manage meeting these targets.
Operational plans bring accountability into daily tasks. By having a comprehensive plan of expectations for the performance of your business, if discrepancies occur, you should be able to analyse your plan and identify where these have taken place and how they can be resolved. These plans are a great way of managing other performance indicators too – shrinkage, the number of calls or average handling time or which of your employees are achieving higher than their targets.
The planning process is dynamic – you need to be able to adapt your plan to a range of changes, which can be a daunting task. If you're new to operational planning, it's best to seek professional consultation or learning tools to help you step into the critical thinking role of an operational planner. There are many resources and guides from which you can draw your operational plan. Attending a workforce management course can open new doors for your management techniques, allow you to explore new avenues for staff optimisation and can help you derive the right targets to implement into your planning.
Call Design's Workforce Management for Back Office Operations course is designed to educate workforce management consultants with some of the best industry knowledge and practices. This course breaks down essential workforce management operations to ensure all facets of your business are running as they should be. Examining team efficiency, staff placements and forecasting in the short- and long-term are all theories explored in the course. This way, back office workforce planners can optimise their staff arrangements to prevent mistakes and make sure they are meeting business requirements.
Call Design has been delivering tailored workforce optimisation solutions to contact centres for almost 20 years, and pride ourselves on our service and industry expertise. To find out how our training courses can help you implement effective operational planning into your organisation, get in touch with our team.