Dan's Tech Management Blog

Thoughts and observations incurred managing the IT department for a medium sized call center.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Moving to the virtual world

A while ago, KP OnCall decided it needed to do something different to attract and retain nurses, a notoriously constrained workforce. After years of enduring the contrasting issues of double digit growth and difficulty hiring enough staff to sustain the growth, we embarked on the path towards utilizing remote agents.

We thought that offering our nurses the ability to work from their homes would differentiate us from all the other work choices that nurses enjoy. Provided that we could provide an environment where the caller experience and management capabilities were the same as a premise based call center, we should be able to offer an environment that would attract that constrained work force we needed.

Well, it took about three years of iterative implementation, but we were able to develop a sustainable model for a virtual call center. 95% of our nurses now work from home and the program has been deemed incredibly successful. We have improved our annual attrition from 22% to less than 5%, saving the company more than $500,000 per year in recruiting and training expense. More importantly, we have gone from a position of being consistently short-staffed, to having a waiting list of nearly 100 nurses. This means that when we do hire, we are able to choose from the best available in the talent pool, further improving our retention and the quality of our services.

Now we are trying to replicate this success with our administrative staff. While our available space in the call center has grown, our administrative staff has outgrown its available office space. Presented with an estimate of $750,000 to build out new offices, we decided instead to institute a Remote Admin Pilot, to explore the concept of telework and office hoteling. The challenges in this initiative are different than those involving virtualizing a call center. I will describe in future blogs how we are addressing issues like space, productivity assessment and management, communication and, mostly importantly, cultural maintenance.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I'm a PMP, yo...

After years of yearning, and months of study, I've passed the test to become a Project Management Professional.
I went into the process with the bias that I needed to study to the book, that my real life PM experience wouldn't help and it was all just an exercise in certification with no greater value. I was wrong.
I learned a great deal about project management that I look forward to utilizing every day. Some of the techniques for managing and reporting on the status of projects is going to be quite valuable. I'll update the blog with news of any attempts to utilize Earned Value Analysis (EVA) or network diagramming.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Warning re: reunion.com

This week I received an invitation from a trusted associate to connect through social networking site reunion.com. I believe in the value of such sites (I am a member of both Linked In and Plaxo), so I decided to investigate. However, to my dismay, during the process of signing into their site, an email was sent out to every contact in my address book without my permission.

I did not approve of the message being sent and I do not approve of this company’s approach to increasing its membership. While not an actual virus, their approach to increasing their membership is almost viral and has started to receive some negative press (see this recent LA Times article: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-lazarus16apr16,1,4041604,full.column).

Because of this, I caution you not to use reunion.com. If you have already set up an account, follow this link to remove your account. We mustn't allow their shifty approach to increasing their membership numbers be rewarded.

Shame on Reunion.Com

Friday, April 25, 2008

My first post - platform agnostic

I don't want to start of with blogging with a rant, but I can't help it.

I'm tired of sitting across from vendors, playing buzzword bingo, and listing to them telling me that their solutions are platform agnostic.
I don't want to be accused being a pedant, but I feel a need to right this wrong.

Websters tells me that agnostic comes from the Greek agnōstos unknown, unknowable, from a- + gnōstos known, from gignōskein to know.

Well, I think that truth is not that they don't know, but that they don't care. Is it possible, then, that a better word would be apathy? (Greek apatheia, from apathēs without feeling, from a- + pathos emotion )

So, let's start a movement. Next time someone tells you something is platform agnostic, gently correct them and tell them that the solution is actually platform apathetic.

We'll see if it catches on...

My photo
Dan Wallis is the Director of Technology at KP OnCall, a nurse triage call center that handles over 1,000,000 calls per year. A dynamic leader, Dan is experienced with managing teams to develop successful technology hardware and software solutions aligned with organizational goals. Since 2000, Dan has utilized this experience to help KP OnCall to grow over 500%. His leadership and vision has been instrumental in meeting the demands of such dramatic growth. The driving force behind many of the call center’s business process improvements, Dan consistently extends beyond IT to be an integral part of the entire organization. For more information, please go to www.danwallis.com.