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Scheduling Change Leads to a 26% Increase in Productivity

February 20, 2012

Since a sizable change in their branch scheduling approach, over the past several months the $1.1 billion dollar Fort Knox Credit Union gradually reduced their branch network monthly payroll from 8,600 to 7,600 hours—all while having an asset growth of 10.7% in 2011.

Facing year-over-year declining branch transaction volumes, the Kentucky credit union implemented FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM in March of 2011. This outsourced monthly reporting and scheduling module helped Fort Knox align their branch staff based on precise forecasted transaction volumes—leading to a 26% increase in their teller productivity and a 21% drop in their labor cost per transaction.

All the signs were there
Despite branch management describing their environments as being “very busy,” Fort Knox’s executive team was leery of overstaffing.  The catalyst for this concern came from staffing levels remaining the same while year-over-year branch transaction volume decreased as a result of several contributing factors—internet banking, and upward trends in their 25,000 monthly call volume contact center.

“The signs that we were not optimally staffed were there,” says Ray Springsteen, SVP over Branch Administration at Fort Knox.  “We were continually noticing tellers standing around without any customers waiting in line, so we started to ask ourselves the tough questions, such as, how are we handling full-time and part-time staff and can we do this better?  We were confident that the optimization of our staff would have a big impact to our bottom-line.”

After an initial assessment, Fort Knox decided to reach out to FMSI to outsource their workforce optimization initiative.  This approach provided them with a turnkey solution, which included a sophisticated online scheduling module and detailed monthly management reports.

“FMSI’s solution accelerated our roll-out period and most importantly gave us the ongoing focus we required to improve our staffing approach,” says Springsteen.

An example of the scheduling changes:
Fort Knox adjusted their staffing mix at several of their branches using the FMSI’s proprietary forecasting engine.  At one location, the busiest times were in the morning and in the evening, while lunches at the location were uncharacteristically slow.  Before implementing FMSI, the branch scheduled part-time (PT) tellers two to three full days a week.  Once they implemented FMSI, the reporting revealed that the tellers were underutilized in the latter part of the day.

“On the days part-time tellers were working, we found that the tellers at the branch in the evenings were over-utilized,” says Springsteen.  Through the changes suggested by FMSI, we were able to adjust schedules of part-time tellers away from the evenings at the branch.  The result was a reduction in teller hours by 24% per pay period.”

Scheduling to need instead of availability
The biggest cultural adjustments Fort Knox experienced during their workforce optimization initiative was around how they handled their PTs.  Instead of focusing primarily on the employee’s availability, the branch schedulers now put priority on when the FMSI branch forecasts show they are needed.

“It was a big adjustment for many of our part-time staff,“ says Springsteen.  “They had to learn to work around our specific staffing requirements and not the other way around.  We attribute much of our productivity improvements to getting our part-time scheduling in-line.”

Best Practices from SVP over Branch Administration at Fort Knox:

  • Set monthly payroll hour goals per branch and then hold monthly meetings with the branch managers to review who is over/under their payroll goals. This has helped us focus on our workforce optimization and also has given the group a forum to share best practices.
  •  Do not blindly replace full-time tellers who are off due to vacation/sick days.  First review the FMSI forecast and staff only during the specific peak transaction volume times, which are often three hours around lunch.
  • Add part-timers to your teller floater pool.  They typically are more eager to work during the three hour peak performance periods.
  • Incorporate workforce optimization metrics from FMSI into your manager scorecards and quarterly bonuses.

Fort Knox Federal Credit Union has reduced their hourly payroll allocation by 1,000 hours per month and reduced its overall workforce by 2.5%—all while having an asset growth of 10.7% in 2011.  With FMSI’s Teller Management SystemTM the Kentucky credit union has been able to better manage their teller scheduling resulting in a 21% drop in their labor cost per transaction since early 2011.

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