Building and defining business issues and enterprise requirements, then turning them into a project with an operational delivery plan for a complex contact center can seem quite a heavy task. We’ve noticed that, over time, our client’s and customer’s business requirements have shifted from being fully-defined, to a series of “wants and needs” with a scale and measure for “must have”, “should have”, “nice to have”, etc. Bridging the gap between those requirements and building an operational project plan is a complex task, which can be made easier by posing the right questions to your own operations and your business management, from the beginning. We’ve taken the Top 5 Best Practices we recommend to our clients and customers, which make those contact center project tasks easier to define and deliver;
- Define Business Benefits First: Nothing significant will happen unless a business requirement has “legs”. Taking a series of known business issues and then defining solutions isn’t “Step 1” – a business needs to ensure that they have justifications for their requirements. That might mean gathering a series of business benefits, to back-up those requirements. It may mean conducting ROI (Return on Investment) studies – or simply stating what the impacts would be, if nothing is done. It’s surprising how many projects kick-off with good intentions – and no real defined benefits – only to fall later when budgets become tighter and those business benefits simply don’t stack up against a growing list of other operational requirements. Best Practice Tip 1: Business elements involved in operational projects need to make sure the homework has been done and there is a green light for delivery.
- Create Business Options: For every business issue, there are always several different ways to approach business solutions. Considering just a single option – or constraining yourself to just one – severely limits the number of ways in which it can be delivered. Business stakeholders should take the time to consider what options might be available from the people/resources, processes/procedures and the technologies/operations. If cost is a factor – which it frequently is – then processes and procedures would be first in line for review, then the technologies or operations and only as a last resort consider your staffing or resources. Best Practice Tip 2: Consider as many business and operational options as possible before deciding which path to take. Good planning early in the process will lead to better solutions at the business deliverable stage.
- Use a Standard Approach: Business issues and requirements can come in many shapes and sizes. Using a standard, repeatable process or methodology makes sure that everyone is on board and each knows their part to play. Whether it’s Agile, Waterfall, Release, PRINCE2, 6Sigma DMAIC or some hybrid/local process of end-to-end/continual delivery, don’t deviate from that standard approach! Introducing intermediate steps or creating shadow IT or shadow business processes around a standard method undermines the whole purpose – and can be very costly. Without a standard method – and without sticking to it – updates, changes, deviations and iterations become much more complex and eventually unmanageable. Best Practice Tip 3: Never deviate from the method of delivery. If necessary, create new processes within the method to accommodate local variances.
- Communications are Key: Business stakeholders, operations management, technical resources and other internal and external delivery resources should always be kept up to date with progress throughout a delivery. Having a central plan which is made available to everyone is a good start – have a calendar of events/central Gantt chart and tracking them is even better. Consider the methods you will use to communicate – and how those can be managed and maintained, too. It may seem like it’s enough to send out an email request but, unless it is monitored, it can easily fall by the wayside. Best Practice Tip 4: Plan and send out regular communications to all stakeholders, not just those you feel might “need to know”.
- Roles and Responsibilities: Within any enterprise there are always overlaps when it comes to roles and responsibilities for day-to-day operational tasks. Project deliveries sometimes rely on “known areas of operation” or “pre-defined roles” when it comes to the who/what/where of tasks – and that can be a mistake. Roles and responsibilities for an ongoing project depends on what is being delivered – and how central those elements are to the plan. Naturally there will be lead and management roles – but there will also be Subject Matter Experts (SME) and other resources who may not be acting in their typical day-to-day role. A good example of this is where an operational support resource is brought in as a Subject Matter Expert. In that role, the SME has a remit to bring their insights, experience and knowledge of their area of operations, to drive deliverables required by a business – and that is not the “natural order of things”. Best Practice Tip 5: A project team is a sub-set of new roles and responsibilities, which need to be clearly defined – and agreed – to allow for the most effective delivery possible.
With a little foresight and planning, the path of project delivery for our client and customer contact centers is made easier by following these relatively simple practices.