Training Aligned
Illustration by Wilson Joseph

Too often, the pursuit of technology is driven by speed and constrained by resources. Experience shows this to be a bad combination.

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, they may have differing views of the best architecture and approach. If not engaged up front, vendors may try to redesign after the fact to meet their needs. Establish the fundamental architecture in advance and socialize it with all involved—Carrier, PBX, ACD, Outsourcer and any others such as CRM or performance tool vendors. Engage them in the plans for testing and cutover activities as well.

As you build the plan, ensure enough time to test, revise and test again; ideally, plan for three complete rounds. Rare is the project that gets everything right the first time, whether due to solution complexity, diverse sites or groups, multiple vendors, or numerous systems and integrations. Testing should include basic component testing (and perhaps network testing), system integration testing and user acceptance testing at a minimum.

Add business continuity/disaster recovery testing for automatic failover procedures where possible. Unlike the past, systems do fail and do need to switch over to the backup instance. Add stress/load testing where appropriate, which is more likely for a premise solution and if you have major peaks.

Keep in mind that if you set unrealistic expectations and shortcut these tests you risk failure of implementation or failure to deliver on time—or both! You never want to be cutting over an untested system or one with known issues just to meet a timeline.

As consultants, we are often the ones bringing reality to schedules and pointing out testing can’t be done in one week, or that the network connectivity needs a 90-day lead time at a minimum, and could be six months. Another key issue we often have to tackle is committing enough staff to do a thorough job of testing paths, documenting outcomes, and fixing things—then testing again. And it’s not just call flows that need testing—it’s email routing and handling, supervisor tools (reports, scorecards, administration, etc.), Quality Monitoring and more.

The best-run projects plan resource time commitment for weeks, not days, after cutover. If possible, plan to have the vendor come back a couple months after implementation to provide refresher training and optimize use. It requires more time and money, but it can enhance value and performance of the system.