WFM vs WFO: What’s The Difference? A Contact Center Report


July 18, 2019 by Siobhan Climer and John Irey

Definitions to start:

Workforce Management (WFM): this refers to a tool that manages agent staffing, scheduling, and long-term planning.

Workforce Optimization (WFO): sometimes called an employee engagement platform, WFO often includes a WFM tool in addition to offering other tools that optimize employee performance and provide analytics for contact center managers. WFO systems typically include several of the following:


To learn how you can integrate these features into your contact center, reach out today for a complimentary whiteboard session with our contact center experts.

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How Do Contact Centers Use WFM vs WFO?


Given the incredibly high turnover in the contact center space, it makes sense that technology tools have stepped in to try and address some of the issues driving agents to leave their roles.

WFM tools are a subset of WFO, enabling improved agent management. By forecasting anticipated contact center volumes, the tool can help managers accurately predict how many agents are needed at any given time.

Using WFM helps contact centers decrease costs and improve operational efficiency.

Workforce Optimization Tools Support The Contact Center



WFM vs WFO comes down to the breadth of the tool. While WFM is typically focused on managing call center employees, WFO systems provide the support supervisors need to ensure data-driven decisions. Instead of combing through dusty spreadsheets, contact center supervisors use these powerful tools to assess contact center performance as it relates to agent behavior, customer experience, and business goals.

WFM vs WFO: Which To Choose?


Let’s talk about cars.

Car 1 – 1984 Pontiac Fiero

Car 2 – 2013 Toyota Corolla

Car 3 – 2019 Genesis G70


Car 1 – No WFM or WFO

The ’84 Fiero was famous for bursting into flames. This is analogous to call centers relying on spreadsheets, faxes, and out-of-date customer data to operate. These contact centers do not have WFM or WFO, leaving them on the precipice of failure. This is only functional in exceptionally small contact centers that have no intention of growing.


Car 2 – WFM

On the other hand, the 2013 Toyota Corolla is reliable. It gets you from point A to point B. It’s functional. It may not have heated seats or a Bluetooth radio system, but you can rest assured the car is roadworthy. This is analogous to contact centers using WFM. The tool is functional and useful, adds value and simplicity. WFM is ideal for small to medium-sized contact centers looking to integrate a solution into their workflow to remain competitive and continue growing.  


Car 3 – WFO and the Employee Engagement Platform

Of course, there is always someone driving the newest, fanciest model on the road. Meet the 2019 Genesis G70, the 2019 IIHS top safety pick based on its LED headlights. It has a 3.3L, 365-horsepower twin turbo paired with launch controls, heated and ventilated seats, a 16—way power driver seat, lane keeping assist, blind spot collision warning, and more features than are worth mentioning here.

This is WFO. It has all the bells and whistles. Capabilities out the wazoo. For a highly strategic, enterprise-level and process-driven contact center that has realized growth and is now continuing the trend, WFO makes sense.


To test WFM or WFO in your call center, register for a demo today.

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WFM vs WFO: Enter The Roadmap


The key to deciding how WFM vs WFO operates in your business, you need to build a contact center roadmap. By identifying how to integrate contact center technologies and optimize your current deployment model, you ensure your call center delivers a superior customer experience.

Read more about the roadmap with our eBook, Customers Drive, You Navigate: Your Contact Center Roadmap to Customer Success.

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About Mindsight

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About The Authors

Siobhan Climer, Science and Technology Writer for Mindsight, writes about technology trends in education, healthcare, and business. She previously taught STEM programs in elementary classrooms and museums, and writes extensively about cybersecurity, disaster recovery, cloud services, backups, data storage, network infrastructure, and the contact center. When she’s not writing tech, she’s writing fantasy, gardening, and exploring the world with her twin daughters. Find her on twitter @techtalksio.

John Irey is a Principal Consultant at Mindsight, an IT Services and Consulting firm located in the Chicago area. With nearly 20 years of experience in information technology, John has helped businesses of every size optimize the technology powering the contact center. He has extensive experience with contact center technologies and seeks to provide a consultative voice to contact center leaders, who rely on Mindsight’s transparency to make the best technology investments. John earned his BA/BS in Information Systems and continues to focus on how emerging technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, impact the contact center. John enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two young children. 

Meet John Irey, Principal Consultant in Contact Center Technology

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