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Survey: Postponing Contact Center Technology Upgrades Costs More than Finishing Them on Schedule

September 21, 2009

Companies that embarked on carrying out contact center technology upgrades in the past year but then postponed them due to the downturn in the economy lost more money on those projects than if they had stayed the course and completed them on schedule, a recent survey conducted by the Customer Experience Foundation (CEF) shows.

The survey of 100 companies (all of which had recently undertaken contact center technology upgrades) in the UK, commissioned by network test solutions provider Empirix, shows that delaying a contact center technology upgrade can add as much seven months of extra project time and can boost the original project cost by as much as 90 percent.

The survey also reveals that poor project management can as much as quadruple the cost, as compared with contact centers that apply best practices in their management of technology roll-outs.
 
One important aspect of project management that is often overlooked, the survey finds, is testing for network readiness. A lot of companies fail to accurately test their networks prior to the rollout of new contact center technologies and also fail to test how well these new systems will work under different “worst case” network traffic congestion scenarios before deployment.

As such, the survey reveals an “inverse relationship” between companies’ investment in contact center testing and budget overruns when updating or rolling out new technologies. In other words, the less testing they do, the more likely they are to run into problems that boost the overall cost of the project.

Tracking project costs was another area where companies could be doing much better, the survey finds (and it’s easy to understand how tracking costs becomes more complicated once a project is postponed and then resumed). More than three-quarters of respondents confessed to either not tracking project costs or only tracking certain ones. And while most believed that roll-out delays had a negative impact on customer interactions, none of the respondents said they tracked exactly how the day-to-day running of their contact centers had been affected.

Survey respondents estimated that, on average, between a quarter and a third of technology projects – such as installing new Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or automatic call distribution (ACD) systems – get delayed.

“It is difficult to comprehend how these huge cost overruns and delays happen in at least 25 percent of these types of projects,” commented Professor Morris Pentel, founder and chairman of the CEF. “We believe this is the first time anyone has shown what a massive problem the industry has here. The study also makes it clear that the impact of delays is not only financial, but also affects the customer experience of the contact center and the brand behind it.”

Trevor Richer, contact center marketing manager, Empirix (News - Alert) said, “It is clear that building testing into the project plan shows attention to detail and a type of organizational commitment that will minimize delays and budget overruns, and avoid the project descending into ‘fire-fighting.’”

For more details about the survey, click here.

Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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