Fix my department's Excel nightmare!
August 8, 2015 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I work in a Quality Assurance department for a call center. We have over 50 people and between us we evaluate customer interactions from 10 different departments. Right now we are using Excel to create work assignments. Example: Department 1 has 30 Excel lists each with 1/30 of the associates. This is a nightmare. Help me make it less of a nightmare.

This department went from being 20 some people to now being four times that number. Excel may have worked in the past, but it's not working so much now. The problem is, making assignments in Excel means that to check people's progress, we have to open each Excel file individually.

That's where I came in. I was tasked with making a list to pull in data from all 100+ lists. I've done that. It works. And it's going to take up way more time than it should, especially as months change and we add or lose departments or associates.

I'm new to this department and I've only seen the way it used to be done. But for the life of me, I can't think of a better way to do it. We need to be able to give out individual assignments, we can't have one list per department because we don't trust our evaluators to do the right work. Additionally, shared Excel files would be less than ideal.

A friend in our IT department mentioned using SharePoint. I've heard of SharePoint but I've never used it. I'm generally tech savvy, but I've heard SharePoint can be difficult at the best of times.

Does MeFi have any thoughts? Do you have experience with this kind of problem, or have you been in this boat in the past? I'd love to hear your ideas.
posted by motioncityshakespeare to Technology (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You need a database. Spreadsheets are not well suited for the task you have here.

You need to either find a commercial package that does what you want (I'm sure there is quite a bit of software out there for call centres) or you need to hire someone who can develop what you need. I'd start with the first option and see what you can turn up. I'd be surprised if there isn't something well suited to your needs, but it might not be cheap.
posted by ssg at 11:50 AM on August 8, 2015

You might want to try Trello. It has shareable notes and todo lists. Also worth checking out is Google Keep which can integrate with Google Sheets and Gmail.
posted by humanfont at 12:05 PM on August 8, 2015

It sounds what you are looking for is shared task/project management software. Trello is one option, and looking for trello alternatives might be a good way to go. Maybe looking at these . I believe the classic microsoft version is microsoft project, but they are trying to move everybody to their cloud office software, office 365, which is subscription based. Producteev is another free option.

It's notable that a lot of these projects have migrated to the web and away from local networks (it sounds like you have the windows computers all networked and share files), so in addition to any training changes, you'd need IT buy in for them. If you don't want to do that, you need to look for software that's locally hosted.

You might also try which is a Question/Answer site specifically for software recommendations.
posted by gryftir at 12:32 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

There are a substantial number of packages out there specifically for groups evaluating, logging and running reports on call center calls. You do not want to use SharePoint or Trello or Google Keep or any other general purpose note-taking or collaboration software - all will ultimately succumb to Excel-like disorganization. You want to use a package designed for this, especially if your call center is growing.

For a general overview, the Google search call center agent evaluation software should allow you to uncover a wide variety of these packages and the kinds of reports they can generate.

That said, you most likely want to look specifically at packages offered by whoever provides the phone tree and call queueing solution your call center uses, or the developer of any existing CRM solution that your call center uses. Those companies may offer call evaluation packages integrated with software or systems you already use, making it easier to implement or more convenient for you or your evaluators to use.
posted by eschatfische at 1:10 PM on August 8, 2015

Response by poster: A couple of clarifications:

Our department already has two different programs for actually doing the evaluations. The only thing we need is a way to assign work to the different evaluators.

We don't have the budget to buy software. There is no way that I can pitch buying software to our Director. I did not put that caveat originally because I wanted to hear unfiltered suggestions.

I'm starting to think that ssg is on the right track, and we need a custom database. Which means that yours truly will be learning Access on the side.

Thank you all for the suggestions so far. If you have any more ideas, please share them. I'm still hoping there's an alternative to me learning Access.
posted by motioncityshakespeare at 1:29 PM on August 8, 2015

Are you sure the programs for doing evaluations wouldn't somehow allow you to assign the work? That seems like it should be a feature of software for the purpose.

You can learn to do what you want in Access, but it will cost your company more in your time than a commercial solution or even a custom solution.
posted by ssg at 4:01 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a paid Microsoft shill, so take it for what it's worth. Sharepoint can definitely most likely 'fix' whatever went wrong in the first place. But what you really need is somebody to come in and sit down, figure out all of the workflows, map out who does what, what goes where, and where the whatsits and whosits all need to live. That takes time, that takes money, and you really really really do not want to accidentally end up being that person.

It sounds like what you really need is someone to come in and say 'Hey, what do we really want to do here?' and that's management consulting, and that's way above my pay grade and gets people killed for suggesting so forget you even saw it.
posted by mrdaneri at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: (The *DO NOT BUILD IT IN ACCESS*) is implicit
posted by mrdaneri at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

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