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Frequently asked questions about Policy Agent Management

1. How does PAM eliminate redundant work
Medium and large size Avaya call centers typically use a Workforce Management System (WFM) such as IEX, TCS/eWorkforce Management, or Blue Pumpkin to maintain a current inventory of their agent workforce. When an agent is hired, someone puts them WFM with information that defines their location and job function. An example is: Joe is a customer service agent in the Tucson location. Someone else defines Joe's agent login ID to the Avaya telephone system and uses a "cheat sheet" to determine what skills, skill levels, and other configuration attributes Joe should have. This process is slow, wasteful, error prone, and very difficult to audit.
With PAM, routine hiring, separation, job change, and name change work is done exclusively in the WFM. Nobody ever has to log into the Avaya switch or CMS. PAM does all the work.
2. What if we don't use a Workforce Management System?
In addition to easily integrating with popular Workforce Management Systems (WFM), PAM has it's own Graphical User Interface and database to manage smaller agent workforces. PAM is not a traditional WFM, because it does not perform agent scheduling, schedule adherence tracking, or traffic forecasting. If you don't need those capabilities, PAM is a financially attractive alternative to WFM. It can also be a temporary stepping stone that is easily installed and very easy to use. Some organizations even mix WFM and PAM as their primary tool for managing agents in different divisions or call centers.
3. How can I find out how agents are really configured on my ACD?
PAM automatically configures all agents every night (unless you explicitly tell it to exclude a group or individual agent). A correction and exception report is emailed to administrators, so they start each day confident the configuration is on compliance with the day's policies.
The Consistacom Synchronization Controller that hosts the PAM solution always has current configuration information on file for each agent. If a supervisor changes an agent's skill, the PAM database is immediately updated. PAM comes with standard Microsoft Access reports that can be run at any time. The PAM data is also available through both LDAP and ODBC access, if you want to create some custom reporting.
4. I need a faster way of exporting Avaya switch agent data for my reporting needs.
The Synchronization Controller hosting PAM makes both LDAP and ODBC access to agent information available. An export process that takes an hour with Avaya Site Administrator (ASA) typically takes less than one minute with PAM.
5. Does PAM keep me from making changes in CMS, ASA, or any of the other tools I use?
No. PAM updates the agent workforce's configuration every night so that you start each day in compliance with your current policies. Call center supervisors and managers retain the complete control they need to deal with changing circumstances during the day. Each change is recorded in a global audit trail, including who make the change and exactly what was changed. PAM will not attempt to override the change until the nightly compliance auditing process.
6. Can I make mass changes through PAM in the middle of the day?
No. Avaya call centers with Expert Agent Selection (EAS) and Business Advocate should not need mass changes during a typical day. Many customers have chosen to forego use of EAS and Advocate because they can be difficult to manage. When thoughtfully implemented, these powerful tools can automatically react to unexpected changes in call volumes and mixes. With PAM, management of EAS and Advocate is done automatically. It is not uncommon to eliminate or greatly reduce the staff needed to manage the call center when PAM takes over this management chore. Wasted or inefficiently used agent time is also reduced, typically paying for PAM in a matter of months.
7. Changing all my agents to implement a new routing policy takes too long
With PAM, a few minutes of work by one person is all it takes to change thousands of agents overnight. Instead of individually changing each agent, the trained PAM Policy Manager on your staff simply updates the policy for a set of agents performing a particular job. It is not unusual for 10 minutes of work to result in changes to 3,000 agents.
8. Agents don't get set back to their normal configuration reliably after a temporary change
Reliable restoration of a normal configuration is one of the common problems PAM was designed for. Before PAM, call center managers and workforce administrators relied on a hodge- podge of hand written notes, spreadsheets, desktop databases, and ASA scripts to try and maintain a standardized configuration. Those techniques are all doomed to failure because they require the error-free duplication of data under human control, which is not possible. PAM works directly with your telephone system and Workforce Management System (if you have one) to quickly and accurately restore all agents to the policy you have defined for the upcoming day. Audit trails keep track of all changes by PAM, your management staff, and event homegrown or third party applications you may be managing agents with. With PAM, there is never a question of how an agent should be configured, is configured, was configured, or why PAM changed them.
9. Our Avaya system is full of login Ids for agents that are no longer here
This is the second most common problems in call centers. New agents are added quickly to get them taking calls. Separated agents are not cleaned up because the management staff is too busy, or often because you leave the agent configured on the Avaya system to prevent the login ID from being reused and breaking your reporting system.
When PAM receives notification from the Workforce Management System that an agent has separated form your workforce, that agent can be moved into a "parking" skill that frees up Avaya resources and makes it clear the agent has been separated. Later, when the number of days required by your reporting system has passed, PAM automatically removes the login from the Avaya system. One PAM customer started with 19,700 agents configured in a single Avaya system. Pam reduced that to just over 12,000 in two days. PAM does the repetitive work that humans hate, does it exactly on schedule, and without errors.
10. How does PAM Work?
PAM is an optional module that runs on a Consistacom Synchronization Controller (SC) appliance. The SC is in constant communication with all the Avaya switching systems in your enterprise, so it always knows how the agents are configured. PAM also integrates with your Workforce Management System (WFM) if you have one, which identifies the employees and (and even outsourced agents) who are part of your active workforce. The WFM also identifies the agent's physical location and department or job function. If you don't use a WFM, you can identify and manage the agent workforce directly in PAM's friendly Graphical User Interface.
Separately from WFM and the Avaya system, your workforce administrators define the business's operational policies. It might say, for example, that technical support agents in the Salt Lake City location will handle calls from skill 174 at level 6, skill 329 at level 12, and skill 768 as reserve agents at level 2. The policy also regulates the settings for auto answer, Class of Restriction, call handling preference, and all the rest of Avaya settings that define an agent.
Every night, PAM combined the information from these 3 sources (WFM, Avaya system, and PAM Policies) to build a set of "model agents" for the entire workforce. Then it checks each Avaya switch to make sure each agent is configured on all the proper switches, not configured anywhere else, and configured in compliance with the next day's policies. Agents are automatically added, changed, parked, and deleted as necessary to achieve compliance. Agents that are already in compliance are not altered, making PAM much, much faster than unreliable scripted updates that some enterprises use. PAM can change about 12,000 agents per hour on an S8700 switching system.
In the morning, call center managers receive an e-mailed summary report listing the number of agents added, changed, and deleted. A spreadsheet is attached, detailing exactly which agents were changed, why the change was necessary, and an indication of a successful change or the reason a change was not possible.
11. We need more than just site and department information to properly classify the job some agent groups perform.
PAM matches individual agents with the correct policy based on site, department, and up to 5 additional attributes it obtains from your Workforce Management System. The matching mechanism also allows wildcard matches, so you can easily achieve and maintain the control granularity appropriate for your enterprise.
12. Can PAM maintain an agent's login on multiple Avaya systems for Disaster Recovery?
Yes. PAM allows an agent to be defined and maintained on an unlimited number of Avaya systems.
13. Our company has multiple workforce groups around the enterprise, with overlapping agent login ID numbering plans.
A single instance of PAM can support multiple workgroups, each with their own set of policies. You may have any number of agents with identical login Ids, so long as they are in separate PAM "datasets", each representing one workforce. PAM can integrate with one or more Workforce Management Systems to obtain agent information, or you can manage some workforces with WFM and some directly with PAM.
14. How much does PAM cost?
PAM is licensed per active payroll (or outsourced) agent, regardless of how many concurrent agent logins you have licensed from Avaya. The price per agent depends on the total number of PAM agents purchased. The cost for PAM is typically a small fraction of the cost for the telephone login license or a CMS agent license. Please contact Consistacom for a proposal that addresses your specific circumstances.

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