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Workforce Management vs Workforce Optimization Software for Contact Centers

Workforce Management vs Workforce Optimization Software for Contact Centers
CommunityWFM Team
Written By CommunityWFM Team
On Mar, 11 2022
3 minute read

The contact center technology industry has a lot of acronyms. Two of the more common ones are workforce management (WFM) and workforce optimization (WFO). While at first glance they may appear to be similar, there are unique and distinct use cases for both technologies. Below are the main differentiations between workforce management and workforce optimization software for contact centers.

WFM software is focused on getting agents on the clock – While there is some overlap between the two technologies, the major way WFM software is different revolves around helping a contact center create optimized schedules based on forecasted contact volume. Having too many agents working is not exactly money well spent, but too few agents can result in delayed responses and frustrated customers. Striking the right balance consistently is where WFM software thrives over WFO technology. Historical information can be leveraged quickly to create a schedule that makes sense given the number of available agents and the skills they provide.



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WFO software is all about the long-term performance of the agent – Once agents get their schedule and are in their chairs working is when WFO software usually begins to apply. This technology empowers contact centers with the resources they need to improve agent performance.

Some features found within WFO software include…

- Analytics around speech and text quality

- Linking customer feedback to agents

- Recording and logging agent conversation

- Online learning and resources

- Quality assurance to see how well agents follow processes

The core purpose of contact center workforce optimization software is to provide leadership with the information they need to properly evaluate agents. If an agent is consistently answering a question wrong and their supervisor approaches them with no evidence, it’s possible the agent could get defensive and the feedback will not be taken seriously. However, if the same supervisor has a recording of how an agent answers the question, it’s much easier to provide this as evidence and also as a baseline for improvement. This style of teaching helps to increase agent retention rates, and scenarios like this is where WFO software thrives in positively impacting a contact center.

WFM software is often more mission critical than WFO software – While WFO software certainly has its place in the contact center, at the end of the day it’s not quite as much of a “must have” solution as WFM software. Not only does WFM technology provide the forecasting and scheduling, but it also has essential solutions when the workday is happening. Real-time intraday management and schedule adjustment plans are vital to the success of a modern contact center for altering staff as contact center volume fluctuates. Monitoring adherence, or the current state of an agent (in a call, on break, etc.) in real-time is also important to ensure the right number of agents are available throughout the day. Too many agents away from their desk at the same time is never a good thing. Lastly, modern WFM software provides an agent portal and mobile app to improve communication with the greater workforce and to fill shifts faster.


To summarize, the core difference between workforce management and workforce optimization technology is one comes before the other. To have agents to manage and optimize with WFO software you need to staff them. WFM software gets the agents in place efficiently and doing their job so WFO technology can be utilized to improve their performance. The two solutions work together well within a productive contact center.

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