Contact center technology selection is more complex than ever. Vendors offer a mind-boggling array of capabilities. Sourcing options abound and are a bit tricky to navigate. Buyers constantly live in the tension between their enthusiasm for the technology and the reality of budget and resource constraints. This complexity makes it difficult to narrow options and focus on a few targeted vendors (and their partners!).
Here are some specific tips that will help you navigate today’s technology selection realities.
Take time to learn: Before requirements development and distribution, there should be an education process that fends off the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), Fear Of Better Options (FOBO), “what ifs” before they become a distraction. Read about vendors and solutions through industry periodicals and attend industry conferences. Hold vendor discussions and demos but limit the time allowed and provide an agenda targeted toward resolving open option discussions. The goal at this stage is ensuring contact center and IT leaders don’t feel they are missing out on something. They’ll rest assured knowing they’ve done the research and gotten a taste for what’s possible.
Remind and reinforce: Reiterate decisions and selection criteria to keep people focused and on track. It’s more fun (and easier) to talk about the latest/greatest. No one wants to be the team member who focuses discussion back to the team’s prior decisions, but it is necessary to keep moving forward. Part of the project manager’s or executive sponsor’s role is to not let anyone throw a monkey wrench into the plans. The speed at which decisions are revisited these days can be astounding – even in the same meeting! Documented decisions and criteria and someone willing to “beat the drum” are crucial to forward momentum.
Focus on today while considering the future: Divide discussion topics into three categories of requirements: CURRENT (include in requirements and request vendor pricing), OPTIONAL (include in requirements and instruct vendor to price separately), and FUTURE (instruct vendor to briefly discuss their ability but not to include in pricing). Thereafter, ensure discussions deal with each topic at the appropriate level.
Weight and Importance: Focus on overriding decision factors – the deal breakers. If how you pay is an absolute, then OPEX usually means cloud and CAPEX means premise. Since speed is often a primary driver, assess your need for speed and target appropriate options considering speed (cloud is typically a faster implementation). General features are not typically overriding decision factors as many have become common across all platforms. There may be some differentiators based on the use of your current technology or knowledge that you have gained in your industry research. “Ease of use” – one interface for the entire solution with easy administration – is an example of something that can be differentiating. Leading edge solutions (e.g., some true cloud options) may be more likely to have functional.
Ease of integration can also carry some weight based on the role data plays in your processes and other applications used on the agent desktop. And consider support options offered – for instance, organizations with limited IT will require the vendor’s support organization to do most of the work, even up to managed services where the vendor performs moves/add/changes. Not all vendors offer all levels of support and many rely on their partners.
Finally, remember you can have some real heavy hitters that override other factors. The overall IT strategy (around security, control, network ownership) can be one of the primary ways to narrow sourcing options. Not all vendors offer enterprise telephony, WFO, CRM, etc. so scope can also quickly focus the team on the right choices to consider.
For more information, read Strategy First in Technology Selection.