The cloud is a strong contender for contact center technology today, and the market hype makes it look as simple as buying a mobile phone app! While it may look “fast and easy” on the surface, centers of any size or complexity need to do more than just turn on some software licenses and hope for the best.
Part of the lure of the cloud is speed and ease. Both sellers and buyers would love to sidestep the Statement of Work (SOW) and implement functionality using standard agreements and licensing, or even free trials. That may work fine to try it in a small, simple group. However, it is unlikely to be enough to help your center achieve its goals, and certainly not adequate if you are replacing an integrated, fairly robust premise solution. So while you need an SOW, it can be relatively simple, short, and easy due to the reduced implementation load inherent in a cloud application that is ready to go on a shared platform.
Whether on day one or after you’ve piloted for a period of time, you need to define requirements, addressing functionality, integration, testing, training, and more. Here, a little planning goes a long way (see Figure 1 below). The SOW serves the same purpose it has in the past—get everyone on the same page, define tasks and owners, timelines, and target outcomes. If important, define onsite time for things like design, testing, and training. (The default for many vendors is that these things are done remotely, and in most cases, minimally.)
The vendor may start with a template, but make sure the scope and deliverables address the realities of your environment. Typical hot buttons include:
- Design or redesign of call flows, IVR menus, self-service applications, and desktop interfaces
- Integration with other applications, such as CRM or the core system
- Implementation of new media (e.g., email, chat) and all that goes with it, including work flows and pre-built responses
- Design and development of custom reports
- Testing and training, including expectations for onsite time and out of hours time, if needed
- Documentation specific to the implementation (e.g., call flow diagrams)
Increasingly, SOWs are created after initial use of the cloud solution. Many vendors push a “dip your toes” mentality and want buyers to get started with simple implementations. The professional services can be low cost (e.g., $10,000) for basic implementation and may even be free. But if you implement large numbers of groups, pursue new functionality or media, or have any complexity with integration, routing, menus, and self-service, it can be much more, even six figures.
If you know your needs will drive up implementation costs, ask for a quote (or at least an estimate) prior to trying the technology to avoid getting enamored with a solution and vendor that can’t meet your needs or facing a “surprise” cost when you start to get serious. Understand the vendor or partner’s discovery process and the approach for refining, reviewing, and finalizing the SOW. Include limitations on the amount of change allowed or a cap to try to get them to do enough legwork for you to have a realistic understanding of the effort, time, and cost.
The bottom line is everyone needs clarity on who is going to do what—internal IT and CC resources, vendor, partners, and/or third parties—and how much it will cost.