Looking for help on workforce planning in a tiered structure.



  • CJ Johnson

    This is a great question that I have been trying to crack since Insights was replaced with Explore. Here's my thoughts. 

    There's really two factors at play: how much of their total capacity are agents currently at, and how many tickets can they handle per x time period.  

    In fact, Zendesk called one part of this, one of the top 6 metrics for 2021 that "every support team should track", Agent Occupancy . This, combined with the average number tickets handled per shift, should let you be able to see if your agents are all at max capacity, and calculate how many agents working at full capacity you would need to handle 500 tickets at 2PM next Wednesday, or what have you. 

    Funny thing though, despite it being in the report, you can't do this with the product.  Zendesk said during the presentation on this, that they utilize 3rd party software (but did not share what software) to calculate the "Occupancy Rate" of agents internally. 

    There are no available metrics in Explore to calculate the total time logged in, so you just cannot do this with Zendesk. (it's marked at coming in Q3 but that target has been moved repeatedly each time we reach the promised release, so I'm not counting on it). 

    The other metric that would help you  that is also mentioned in that report, Tickets Handled Per Hour.

    Unfortunately, you'll notice a distinct lack of anything labeled "Handled" in the graph example included. This is because once again, you cannot actually calculate this in Explore.  There's literally no metric that collects "how many tickets an agent opens and interacts with", because that's not even something Zendesk tracks. If it was, reporting on cherry picking wouldn't be impossible.

    If we flex that definition to mean "tickets an agent updated", you would still need the agent occupancy rate to figure out if the average from the time period you are calculating, is for agents who were at 100% capacity.  If it wasn't, you'd need to adjust for that (and it would be unlikely that all agents for that time were at 100%).

     If you figure out a way to do this accurately, a lot of people (including me!) would be interested, but it seems like to me, the necessary datapoints are simply not made available to be able to create meaningful reports on staffing levels at this time.  Without being able to get at the total time agents are online, or be able to accurately know how many tickets they handled, it's just not possible to calculate the amount of work each agent does per shift. 

  • Thanks for the response. The other factor that makes this even more difficult is our workflow. Tier 1 triages most incoming tickets, but not all. A good chunk of tickets is escalated to Tier 2. And a small percentage of those tickets are escalated to Tier 3. Also, you have to include tickets in the agent's personal backlog.

    I feel as though I'm trying to reinvent the wheel because this is not a new problem and there must be thousands of companies that have gone through this exercise to figure out a standard framework for calculating this.

  • Brett Bowser
    Zendesk Community Manager
    Thanks for taking the time to share this CJ!

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