Category Archives: Operations

5 reasons why you shouldn’t build your own WFM feed

5 reasons why you shouldn’t build your own WFM feed

“WFM often ranks as one the most important applications in the contact centre, as much as 70% of your running costs are staffing related and WFM is crucial to ensure you balance exceptional customer service whilst balancing the costs of that service.”

Aria has been developing WFM data feeds for over 15 years. Even with all our combined experiences across multiple platforms, we know more than any other company how difficult it can be to build these integrations.

All companies aspire to have a single, fully integrated platform for all their business needs — but that’s idealistic, not futuristic. Often, time is the limiting factor for companies adopting a cloud platform. Because of a lack of time, they’re forced to make short-term decisions around point solutions to address the here and now.

Marcela Areiza wrote a great piece of the benefits of an integrated WEM platform which outlines the key drivers and reasons but the one area she doesn’t address is time, or more specifically the lack there of.

The old adage, if it’s not broken don’t fix it, is true here, when we lack the time to remove the burden of technical debt or unpick commitments to technology made under previous incumbents, we continue to focus on the here and now at the expense of our ideals.

But ignore everything stated above as nothing defines us more accurately than Edgar Rice Burroughs disarming simple assessment: “We are, all of us, creatures of habit…”, put more simply, we know what we like and like what we know.

This is often most true whenever I recall my experiences with WFM [Workforce Management] teams and their unquestionable dedication to their WFM platform of choice. I always loved the idea of putting advocates for all the main WFM platforms into a room and listen to them try to convince each other why their platform of choice is the best…it would put any cross-party political debate to shame but unfortunately I suspect the outcome would be no clearer nor any more purposeful, great content non the less.

 

Why is WFM even that important when it comes to adopting the cloud?

For those of us who have never worked in WFM or worked closely to these teams, it will be incredibly difficult to understand why they can’t just use another WFM system.

After a platform to deliver the interactions to the agents, WFM often ranks as one the most important and critical applications in the contact centre, as much as 70% of your contact centre running costs are staffing related and WFM is crucial to ensure you balance exceptional customer service whilst balancing the costs of that service.

The WFM platform is often central, with a multitude of processes and systems feeding in and from it, so simply swapping out the WFM platform isn’t that straight forward as the rest of the processes would fall down around it.

 

Why shouldn’t I just build my own integration and data feed?

For new contact centres adopting the integrated WFM platform removes the need for any form of integration as it’s an integrated suite. For customers wishing to retain the services of the existing WFM system, they have the option to build or buy. Listed below are 5 reasons to not build your own WFM data integration feed.

 

1. The total cost could be up to x10 more than to buy

You generally want to minimize cost whilst maintaining control, this seems like the better route; to build yourself giving you complete ownership it’s not quite that straight forward. The unavoidable truth is that building it yourself has potential to cost you significantly more. Many convince themselves that building in house will be quicker and cheaper, but it’s often difficult to provide an accurate cost of complex software, and often unforeseen problems can and will arise resulting in delays and spiraling costs. Then you’re faced with the tougher question; do you abandon it or continue to battle your way through and risk more cost?

According to Atomic Object: “new systems have a reasonable amount of complexity; the custom solution will cost more than the off-the-shelf solution. In our experience, assuming you hire an experienced external team to build your software, that difference can cost from twice to 20 times more.”

Building your own solution in-house requires you to first build a team to do it. Good software developers don’t come cheap and often (in-house) IT projects are well-known for experiencing major problems and costing far more than the estimated amount.

You must avoid failing into the trap of the perception of a lower cost to build in-house to reduce costs as these projects often lead to corners being cut and a solution that’s not fit-for-purpose. Compare that to a specialized vendor solution which fits your needs ‘out of the box’ and takes on the burden of maintaining your interests as part of their service.

 

2. Inaccurate data could cost you millions annually through staffing inefficiencies

Typical agent salaries can account for  between 60 and 70% of total contact centre costs and even small inaccuracies in your data feed can result in 2-3% staffing inefficiencies which translates into hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars lost annually.

The cost of inaccurate data is never considered as part of the cost of building your own WFM data feed as you will always start with the flawed assumption that the data, and more importantly your teams view of how the data should be transformed into the format required by the WFM vendor, is not something to be concerned or even factored in, as the goal will always be to create an accurate data feed.

Aria has been building and developing WFM data feeds for over 15 years and even with all our combined experiences across multiple platforms, we know more than any other company how difficult it can be to build these integrations, and that’s starting with a team that has significant experience.

 

3. It could take 12+ months to build

As Donald Rumsfeld famously stated, “there are no knowns. There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.”

As much as that might seem like a tongue twister, it’s the unknown unknowns that affect build it yourself projects.

Assumptions are key to the custom development’s business case, and the project’s planning. We often don’t realize them until it’s too late. With over 15 years of building and developing WFM integrations and data feeds across a wide range of platforms, Aria is fortunate enough to have experienced and learnt from all uncovered unknown unknowns and built them into our thinking and design.

With our in-depth knowledge of what it takes to build a WFM integration from nothing, we are confident the build from new will take a team with our history and experience more than 12 months to build and even then it’s likely to suffer from the challenges of inaccurate data as per reason number 2.

 

4. How do you even keep up with the cloud vendor’s rapid pace of change

Vendors like Genesys and Salesforce make changes to their cloud platforms very frequently. For example, Genesys announced  their commitment to ‘Rapid Innovation’ [Press Release].  This is a huge statement of intent in terms of the pace at which they plan to expand and evolve their platform on a weekly basis.

Likewise, Salesforce is a popular CRM with a large market share, that is constantly making updates to their software.

For partners like Aria Solutions, this raises the stakes in terms of our commitment to keep pace with Genesys and Salesforce. Specifically, we need to provide business dexterity for our customers, and exceed Genesys AppFoudry and Salesforce AppExchange standards, by enabling new features for our customers in a timely manner.

Aria’s product is a ‘True’ Cloud platform build using scalable API’s and microservices. Simply translated, we are able to focus much more on the features and functionality of our platform and integration and have significant agility to keep pace with Salesforce seasonal updates and Genesys’ ‘Rapid innovation’.

When building the business case for a new WFM integration in-house you need to also consider this ‘Rapid innovation’ commitment in terms of your on-going technical overhead beyond just building the initially integration, your architecture must be agile enough to adapt and change your approach.

 

5. You have more important priorities to focus your efforts on

For most companies, building a WFM integration will never be your top priority, most likely it won’t even make the top 100 list. Your core business is anything but building and maintaining integrations, but for Aria, this is our core business and is what we have developed our expertise around.

So, the question must be asked at the start of your journey, do you have the time, resources, focus and prioritization to see this through to the end and beyond?

If the answer to any of the questions above is no, then surely the most cost effective and best use of your value resources is to not commit them to complicated project with an unknown effort.

You have more important things to focus on and for Aria Solutions this is a top priority so why take the risk?

This sounds like a long list of ‘known knowns’ that impact most projects that always start off with the best of intentions…. let’s save some money. When in fact it always takes longer and cost more.

Save yourself the effort and simply to get you up and running in a matter of hours with an out of the box solution that will continue to adapt vendor and market changes.

 

The Steep Costs of Contact Center Outages

Many disasters and disruptions can impact a contact center: hurricanes, floods, fires, hackers, hardware failures — even “inside jobs” by malicious employees.

If you’re a VP of Customer Service or Chief Information Officer, the prospect of widespread contact center outages likely keeps you up at night. And it should.

Most contact centers, and especially those running premise-based systems, are not prepared to ensure continuity during an emergency, and the costs associated with contact center outages are steep and tend to multiply quickly.

They can be broken down into three categories:

1. Intangible

Before getting into the costs that are easy to quantify, let’s take a look at the intangible costs of contact center outages— those that are not easily converted into dollar form but are very real and can have a huge impact on the health of your business.

People and entire departments that are constantly putting out fires suffer from a lack of focus that leads to significant productivity loss. According to a study conducted at UC Irvine, it takes roughly 23 minutes to refocus after even a minor interruption.

The Washington Post reported that interruptions consume an average of 238 minutes per day. That’s not including the other 84 minutes it takes to refocus, or the 50 minutes lost to fatigue and stress. That’s 6 hours a day and 31 hours a week.

If you’re a manager or director of a contact center, you’ve seen the productivity loss and high turnover rate as your agents get slammed with increased call demand and become overwhelmed.

If you’re a VP of IT, you’re well acquainted with the fact that only 31 percent of the IT budget is allocated for new projects — and that only 14 percent of that 31 percent (so about 4 percent) goes to sell-side investments that can generate new business. 69 percent of the budget goes to MOOSE — Maintaining and Operating the Organization, Systems and Equipment.

2. Financial

Property damage caused by flooding or fire can be covered by insurance. Your loss can be made whole. Not so with the financial losses caused by damage to your brand, poor customer experience, and lost sales.

Customer experience is crucial in maintaining your market share and growing your business.

Bad customer experiences are directly tied to revenue losses. A multichannel bank, for example, leaves $124 million on the table for every 1-point decline in its CX Index score.

Repeatedly spending money on vendors to patch your outdated infrastructure also results in considerable financial drain, and the increasingly complex work-arounds don’t solve the underlying issues.

3. Operational

The operational costs of contact center outages quickly multiply if the disaster recovery solution is not cloud based.

FEMA estimates that basic services should be restored to an area affected by a serious disaster within 3 days. If your hardware isn’t redundant, downtime could be even longer as you try and install new software and servers.

If the disaster renders your premise-based contact center unusable for weeks or months, you’ll have to try and move your agents, along with your hardware, to a new site. Even once such a move is made, call volume is likely to increase past a capacity you’re able to handle, making a bad situation worse as customer experience — the key brand differentiator — suffers.

What’s worse, if the disaster has taken out your contact center, other areas of your operations are likely affected as well, removing supports to other parts of the business and making it harder to mount an effective response.

Are You Vulnerable to Widespread Contact Center Outages?

Your company is likely at risk of a contact center outage if:

● Your contact center is premise-based and manned by a fixed number of agents

● Your disaster recovery program runs on a legacy system that’s incapable of scaling quickly to add additional agents when call volume surges and/or agents cannot login

● You have failover in place, but it’s less than optimal, and activation would result in sub-optimal customer experience at best, and at worst a complete system failure.

Contact Aria Solutions today to learn more about our new cloud disaster recovery solution.