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                           PROJECT CASE  


BLACKBOARD STUDENT SERVICES

Blackboard is the major service provider to educational institutions for e-learning, curriculum administration, and information technology. The company operates a customer service center in Somerset, KY. Due to rapid growth a second center in the western U.S. was needed. WDGC was retained to identify the best location.

The most critical locational influence involved a top quality workforce. Staffing levels would be 400 permanent and 200 seasonal. Main position is customer service/tech support. Representatives must interface with school administrators and students in various modes including telephone and email. Superior basic skills and troubleshooting expertise are key.

Given business competitive conditions, labor costs also need to be reasonable. This includes both near term and longer range. The ideal location will feature a large white collar underemployed pool, concentration of lower paying call centers, paucity of large high wage back offices, available 35,000 SF with ample parking, dual teleco feed, minimal natural disaster risk, and leadership that warmly welcomes this project.

WDGC launched a two phase analysis. Phase One embraced a screening exercise wherein areas were eliminated on a series of statistical thresholds such as population characteristics, underemployed pool of call center occupational employment, retail and CSR wages, household income, cost-of-living, unemployment rate, disaster risk, etc. Two locations were shortlisted (one in northern CA and one in central TX).

WDGC then conducted field investigation in each area. During fieldwork, our consulting team:

bullet Interviewed call centers and other back office employers
bullet Interviewed other pertinent groups such as:
bullet Staffing agency
bullet Workforce career center
bullet Economic development agency
bullet Toured available office space identified by the local economic development group
bullet Analyzed GIS commute zone maps (generated by WDGC)

WDGC recommended Killeen, TX. Our recommendation entailed:

bullet Metro area
bullet Submarket
bullet Building
bullet Wage structure
bullet Incentive compensation
bullet HR practices
bullet Onsite amenities
bullet Key benefits
bullet Employer of choice essentials
bullet Utilization of state/local incentives
bullet Recruiting sources/methods including outreach to Ft. Hood

Blackboard has successfully operated in Killeen. Accomplishments include:
bullet Reaching 400 a year ahead of time
bullet Generating 4 qualified applicants for each open position
bullet Keep a high quality staff as turnover is less that 25%
bullet Offering an attractive wage that has buying power in the labor market and falls within the company’s cost structure
bullet Easily staffing seasonal and second shift positions
bullet Vaulting into a preferred employer position in the Killeen labor market
bullet Realizing overall costs 10% below those budgeted

 

     
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