Too often, the pursuit of technology is driven by speed and constrained by resources. Experience shows this to be a bad combination.Technology success demands careful implementation planning as well as effective technology monitoring and support.
Getting implementation right takes time, well-structured plans, and commitment from the contact center, IT, vendors and/or their partners. Input from all parties that touch the technology, directly or indirectly, gets you off on the right foot. Ongoing engagement on both the technical (IT) and functional (users) fronts keeps you on track.
When the solution involves multiple vendors, establish the fundamental architecture in advance and socialize it with all involved. Gain agreement and signoff by all players – i.e., we all agree this is what we’re implementing, how we’re going to do it, who is doing what.
As you build the plan, ensure enough time to test, revise, and test again; ideally, plan for three complete rounds. Go beyond component and network testing to include system integration testing, user acceptance testing, business continuity/disaster recovery testing for automatic failover, and stress/load testing, as appropriate. If you set unrealistic expectations and shortcut testing you, risk failure of implementation or failure to deliver on time – or both!
Your vendor provides the first line of defense. Explore what and how they monitor, what information their Network Operations Center (NOC) receives, how the NOC is staffed (24×7?), what processes they use, and what visibility you will have to system health, etc. Your second line of defense is filling gaps with your own monitoring or third party services. For example, you could use a call testing service (dial through call flows and show results), or have people check key numbers and flows each day to ensure routing is working, especially for flows with menus and messages that change or have many conditional paths. Set up test accounts for self service and test them periodically.
The more you rely on outsourcers (who are increasingly using cloud-based systems) to handle your contacts, the more you need to be on top of it. You cannot take a hands-off approach.
Define support requirements as part of your implementation planning. Consider vendor and IT roles and responsibilities. Start with assignment of the Tier 1 role and define the steps and contact points for initiating a trouble ticket, acknowledging receipt, performing initial analysis, and engaging the right resources to resolve the issue (including Tier 2).
When multiple vendors are involved in providing a single solution (e.g., ACD plus Network Carrier), one vendor (more likely for cloud solution) or IT (more likely for premise solution) must take overall responsibility for the entire solution and lead the troubleshooting and resolution process. While it’s not always an option, fewer vendors minimize complexity in your overall solution and therefore its support.
The keys to success are at odds with some of today’s common project drivers. You want to go fast, without enough resources, but in reality you need to take time and commit resources (yours and the vendors’), and probably phase in functionality. From the due diligence to cutover through ongoing management of your system, active involvement and proactive engagement from a wide-ranging team will serve you well.
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