Managing potential problems in large-scale Contact Center projects
Not long ago, Taylor Reach was retained to design and creation of a single contact center for a large municipality that effectively combined three departments into one.
Municipal governments operate complex, multi-tiered contact center operations supporting resident inquiries to many departments. As a result, customers—in this case, clients, taxpayers and residents—need to be assured of a smooth, effective, and friction-free contact experience.
However, as a public entity, budgets and timelines are also of utmost importance. After an initial assessment, it’s vital to the success of any project to design a plan for keeping everyone; clients and consultants alike; on task and on schedule.
The larger the project, the more important this becomes.
Here are some of the key issues to anticipate in a large-scale contact center redesign, and what to expect when working with project team like Taylor Reach.
Large Stakeholder Teams Need a LOT of Meetings
Having a large stakeholder team means ensuring everyone’s input is sought, concerns are acknowledged and addressed, and that everyone is kept up to date and on task, on both the client side and the service side.
Regardless of whether you are employing a waterfall or sprint approach structured communication with a regular cadence is essential to keep everyone on the same page. The simplest way to manage this, of course, is with weekly meetings. It’s important to ensure the meetings are targeted however, and that they’re not simply rehashing or duplicating meeting content from one group to the next. A consistent agenda for these weekly check-ins is essential. Key stakeholders, including project leads from both teams, need to attend and make decisions and address other stakeholders’ concerns so that these solutions and updates can be passed along a single line of information. This saves valuable project time that can quickly translate into redundancy.
Documentation Needs to be Timely and Accurate
As much as a defined agenda is required for each check-in so is ongoing documentation to ensure the key issues, resolution and opportunities are captured.
Planning to have written documentation to follow each meeting will save headaches down the line. As many a contractor will tell you, never assume everyone understood everything about the next steps. Having a written and “agreed-to” agenda, matched to a promptly-distributed written record of the meeting minutes ensures there’s a living “manual” for what’s been done and what’s coming next.
Also important with written documentation is the record of who said what, and who agreed to do what at the meeting. Ambiguity, forgotten “promises,” and misinterpretation of intent can be expensive errors. Getting things down in writing keeps things clear, honest, and unambiguous.
Timelines Need to be Adhered To
In large projects, there are often unexpected delays.
OK, there are always unexpected delays. In fact, ironically, they’re to be expected. Clients and client teams will typically not be dedicated to the project. They will still have their “day-job” which requires their attention. Understanding the availability of the project team can be critical to manage deliverables and schedules.
But that doesn’t mean delays should be rampant. One of the areas Taylor Reach excels at is keeping stakeholders on their timelines. That means ensuring everyone is clear about their expectations and responsibilities, and that there are enough systems in place to keep the project running on schedule.
Large projects don’t always finish on time. But the closer everyone can get to that target, the more successful – and less stressful – the project will be in the end.
Project Scope Needs to be Maintained
“Scope creep” is epidemic when it comes to large projects. Far too often it’s easy to look at the scale of, say, a large municipal government contact center and think, “what’s one more little thing on the list?” But when we’re already dealing with benchmarking, wide-scale multi-center assessments, analytics, operational design, scripting, technology, performance management, staffing, implementation, and financial models, it doesn’t take long for “just one more little thing” to start stretching the project budgets and timelines a bit too far.
When a plan is set, it’s possible new problems will come up and solutions needed that weren’t anticipated. But making sure there’s a clear and rational project scope set early in the planning and discussion phase will ensure all stakeholders and service providers know exactly how the project is going to go.
Scope creep often comes in a few popular flavors, first is embellishment, “well we are already doing “x”, so adding “y” to that should be no big deal”, the second flavor is expansion “doing “x” will get us part way to our goal and since we already have the right resources engaged, lets carry on and finish the job, by doing “a”, “b” and “c”, and the last is what I will call “oh crap”, this is the realization that in order to achieve a stated goal or object will require an additional tack or activity that was not anticipated. Occurrences of this latter case should be few and fair between as initial discovery should have uncovered any dependencies.
When confronted by scope creep we need to diagnose which flavor it is and then determine a course of action. In both of the former cases, we view these as additional projects and working with the project team can assess value of the activity, identify any true economies of scale from completing the additional work in parallel or sequence to the original project. The client can then make a business decision to determine how to deal with these scope creep items. But regardless they will not be impacting the original scope. The final scenario however represents a different animal, If a important dependency has indeed been overlooked, we must assess the criticality of the dependency and the risks of proceeding without it and benefits of adding it to the project scope. Once a gain a business decision.
When it comes to setting up a large-scale contact center project, having the right mindset about what to expect is vital to the success of the project. Knowing that your consulting team and stakeholders will need a lot of meetings, a lot of documentation, a tight timeline, and a strict project scope will keep your expectations, and project on track and your aggravations to a minimum.
To find out more about how Taylor Reach can help with your medium- to large-scale contact center restructuring, CLICK HERE to schedule a free consultation.