What Is a Planning Model

As a business organization grows, the need for planning increases greatly. With more people carrying out a wider variety of roles according to different demands, it is important that the business is able to manage its resources. A planning model can be used to support this and to help the business manage its ongoing commitments, while supporting its ability to grow and develop. It's wise to learn what a planning model is, how a planning model is built and how it should be used.

Purpose

A planning model allows a business to manage resources and processes according to demand. As the term model implies, this is a hypothetical construction devised around actual data, various scenarios and assumptions. A planning model can be simple or complex; the size and nature of the business will dictate the level of detail required. A small business with a core number of staff, for example, may only require a simple planning model, whereas a multisite organization with a large number of people and a wide variety of processes will require something more significant. A planning model is rarely a static construction and is likely to evolve and develop constantly over time.

Inputs and outputs

A core planning model will take inputs of data (actual, target or estimates) and process them according to various assumptions. The output of this could take many shapes, but it is likely to help the business manage the amount of resources required in each area.

In a very simple example, a contact center planning model would need to know how many calls are received on an hourly basis. This then will be aligned to the average amount of time it takes to handle a call, allowing a simple calculation to devise how many staff members are required per hour to manage the call traffic. In all cases, only estimates can be used.

It is impossible to predict exactly how many calls will come in, for example, so a model may comprise multiple models, each of which helps feed different components.

Dealing with variables

The advantage of a model is that it can easily help a business cater to multiple scenarios. These will be driven by a host of different variables. Call center traffic, for example, is heavily dependent on marketing, customer billing cycles and seasonal events. Some of these can be foreseen, whereas others can only be predicted on short notice. A contact center, therefore, may have an overall model based on certain key assumptions that are refined on a daily basis according to the real-time availability of certain data. The more sophisticated the model, the better equipped it is to handle these variables.

Tools and personnel required

According to the level of sophistication, different tools and personnel may be required. All managers should be able to develop a simple planning model based around their team. This helps them plan the number of people available each business day and could easily be constructed in a spreadsheet. More sophisticated models can also be based in spreadsheets and/or other database. For larger businesses, however, specialist software is more likely to be a suitable means of developing a planning model.

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