It’s a well known fact that service and support organizations are staffed with more than just agents and technicians. They also need supervisors, and other indirect personnel to function properly. But what’s the right headcount for these indirect personnel? Without adequate staffing in this area you will not have the proper management span of control. By contrast, if you are overstaffed with indirect personnel your costs will increase unnecessarily.
Let’s take a look at the industry averages for the workforce schedulers, QA/QC and Managers in service and support.
Most support organizations will manually schedule their workforce, or perhaps use simple tools like Excel to assist with schedule creation when there are fewer than 20 technicians. However, workforce scheduling becomes more complex as headcount increases, and hours of operation increase from a simple 8 X 5 schedule (8 hours, 5 days a week) to a 24 X 7 schedule.
The industry average, and hence a good rule of thumb, is that you need one FTE to manage workforce scheduling for every 60 agents or technicians that work in support. Additionally, if the support schedule is 24 X 7, this ratio increases to 1.25 FTE’s for every 60 agents or technicians. So, for example, if you have 40 technicians working in service and support, you would need approximately 0.67 FTE’s to manage workforce scheduling in a non 24 X 7 support environment, and approximately .83 FTE’s for scheduling in a 24 X 7 support environment.
Some smaller service and support functions are able to get by without a formal QA/QC function. But generally, with 15 or more technicians, it’s a good idea to have someone who is formally responsible for QA/QC. This typically includes performance tracking and trending, performance reporting, call quality monitoring, and benchmarking. The average industry ratio of QA/QC personnel to agents or technicians is about 1:30. So again, if you have 40 agents it would be normal to have a headcount of 1.3 dedicated to QA/QC.
The support manager is the person with overall responsibility for the service and support organization. The industry average is one full time manager for every 50 agents in a support organization. To continue with our example of 40 agents, we would need approximately 0.8 managers for a support group of this size.
In case you are wondering about the fractional headcounts above – e.g., 1.3 FTE’s for QA/QC – it is quite common for indirect personnel to split their time between multiple functions. A single person, for example, might have responsibilities that include some training, some workforce scheduling, and some QA/QC.
Now let’s run through a quick example. Using the industry averages specified above, a support group with 40 agents/technicians in a 24 X 7 environment might have the following indirect headcount:
- Supervisors = 6.7. Using a ratio of 1 supervisor for every 6 agents
- Trainers = 1.1 from our example above.
- Workforce Schedulers = 0.8 from our example above.
- QA/QC = 1.3 using a ratio of 1 QA/QC professional for every 30 agents
- Managers = 0.8 using a ratio of 1 manager for every 50 agents.
Summing this up we have 10.7 indirect personnel and 40 agents in our hypothetical support organization, for a total headcount of almost 51.
Finally, a good rule of thumb for the ratio of technicians to total support headcount is 80% for a level 1 service desk, and 85% for desktop support. In our example above, we have 40 agents in a support group of 51. The ratio of technicians to total headcount is therefore 78%.