5 Benefits of Adding a Workforce Management Solution to Your PSAP

January 3rd, 2024

Written by Charlie Snedden, Sales Engineer

Blog, Public Safety

As a Sales Engineer, I’ve collaborated with prominent United Kingdom police forces, focusing on an often underutilized yet pivotal aspect in public safety – Workforce Management (WFM). 

In Europe, the European Emergency Number Association (EENA) has been instrumental in shaping how emergency services approach workforce management. Similar to the National Emergency Number Association‘s (NENA) strategies in North America, EENA emphasizes operational efficiency and effective resource allocation. 

My work with police forces in the UK showed me that WFM is crucial not just for managing budgets, but for ensuring that the right personnel with the right skills are available when needed. It’s about enhancing the overall quality and efficiency of emergency response services. 

As several of our public safety customers in North America have begun asking about integrating workforce management solutions into their PSAPs, we wanted to share the benefits of getting away from spreadsheets and leveraging a WFM tool to improve PSAP operations. 

What is Workforce Management?

Workforce management refers to a set of processes and tools used by organizations to optimize the productivity, efficiency, and performance of their workforce. This includes activities related to staffing, scheduling, forecasting, and managing labor resources to meet business goals, but also considering factors like employee satisfaction, compliance with labor laws, and operational efficiency. 

Features of WFM Solutions

  • Forecasting: analyze historical call trends to accurately schedule the proper number of dispatchers and call-takers during peak times. 
  • Scheduling: automate the process of assigning and managing employee work shifts for optimal workforce efficiency. 
  • Leave management: book absences autonomously and receive manual or automated approvals and denials or waitlist notifications based on predefined rules. 
  • Customizable dashboards: view key performance indicators all in one place and adjust the view to stay informed of your overall operations. 
  • Customizable reports: ensure users have access to the data they need to make informed decisions that was previously difficult to obtain and combine. 

Current State of Dispatch Scheduling in North America

PSAPs and other public safety entities require 24/7 scheduling coverage.  

While every PSAP is different, many still rely on manual methods for creating and managing dispatcher schedules. This can involve spreadsheets, paper-based systems, or basic scheduling software to input shifts, track time off, and manage staffing levels. 

Many are also reliant on shift patterns that were designed years ago, now invalid due to increased call volume.

Scheduling Challenges of Public Safety Entities and 9-1-1 Centers

The most common challenges and concerns with manual scheduling in PSAPs include: 

  • Time-consuming process 
  • Increased risk of errors (typos, miscalculations, or oversight of scheduling details) 
  • Limited flexibility in adapting to unforeseen changes or emergency situations 
  • Inefficient communication on schedule changes, updates, and assignments 
  • Compliance risks in monitoring/enforcing rules related to breaks, overtime, etc. 
  • Limited analysis and reporting to identify trends for continuous improvement 
  • Lack of visibility into employee availability, time-off requests, and adherence 
  • Employee turnover 
  • Having enough dispatchers to ensure proper coverage 

All of these challenges can be minimized by replacing manual scheduling or basic scheduling software with a workforce management solution.

Benefits of Integrating Workforce Management Software into PSAPs

More Cost-Efficient and Agile Operations

With tight budgets being a constant challenge, North American 9-1-1 services can leverage WFM to optimize operational expenses. 

With the ability to forecast call volume and workload patterns based on historical data and trends, WFM solutions enable better resource planning. This helps ensure that the right number of call-takers and dispatchers are available during peak hours or critical events.  

By improving dispatch scheduling, workforce management tools significantly reduce the amount of time to produce schedules, identify vacancies, and schedule edits. Schedule managers can manage training and compliance all in one place within the solution as well. 

Improved Response Capabilities

By utilizing historical data and real-time analytics, 911 services can enhance their readiness and response strategies. 

WFM tools facilitate the creation of optimized schedules for call-takers and dispatchers. This ensures that staffing levels align with demand, reducing instances of understaffing or overstaffing.  

These tools can also consider factors like skills, certifications, and preferences when assigning shifts to guarantee the right person is answering the phone on every emergency call. 

Employee Well-Being

Efficient workforce management leads to better job satisfaction, which is crucial in high-pressure PSAP environments. 

By providing your employees with self-service scheduling options, you foster a sense of empowerment and work-life balance. Managing vacation and leave allows supervisors to rearrange schedules and ensure the PSAP is adequately staffed all in one place. 

Turnover is another constant concern in the public safety space. By giving your call-takers and dispatchers greater control over their schedules, you’re improving employee retention. 

More Data-Drive Decision Making

Spreadsheets are unable to provide real-time insights into your PSAP operations.  

Workforce management tools generate valuable insights and reports based on historical and real-time data. PSAP leaders can analyze performance metrics, identify trends, and make informed decisions to enhance operational efficiency. 

As more data is being collected and as emergencies become more complex, this data-driven approach is crucial for continuous improvement and adapting to evolving needs. 

Improved Performance of Your Schedule Manager

Some PSAPs may worry that a WFM tool takes away from the job of your Schedule Manager. This is not the case. 

WFM tools automate workforce scheduling, reducing the time, effort, and possibility of error when it comes to manual data entry and calculations. This allows them to focus on higher-value tasks instead of spending hours on spreadsheet management. Those higher-value tasks can include proactively planning schedules, monitoring whether employees are following assigned schedules, and scaling accordingly as needs change. 

In Closing

EENA’s role in Europe provides valuable lessons for North American PSAPs. By embracing WFM, 911 services can manage their resources more effectively and ensure a high standard of emergency response. 

In our line of business, we’ve provided WFM solutions for contact centers across North America and seen the results and satisfaction firsthand. We believe this translates well over to the public safety realm, which we’ve had the pleasure of serving for over 30 years. 

We look to EENA’s initiatives as a guide and adapt these methodologies to enhance 911 services in North America. By adding a WFM tool to your PSAP’s tech stack, you’re taking a step towards operational excellence in public safety. 

Contact us here! >>

Share This