Best Practices for Managing Cloud Technology Solutions
By Donna Fluss
DMG helps companies select all types of contact center and back-office systems. During the past few years, many of our clients have expressed an interest in acquiring cloud-based systems. Here are a few notable trends in the adoption of cloud-based solutions:
- Most acquisitions of contact center infrastructure, such as automatic call distributors (ACDs) and interactive voice response systems (IVRs); customer relationship management (CRM); and workforce optimization (WFO) systems, including recording, quality assurance, workforce management (WFM), etc., are replacements of existing on-premises systems.
- Companies that purchase premises-based solutions typically have security concerns about the cloud, or they have a large installed base of on-premises systems and do not want to swap them out or operate in a hybrid environment.
- Companies that replace an on-premises system with a cloud-based solution often expect technical and operational benefits, as well as cost savings.
The following best practices will help your company realize the greatest benefits and returns from implementing a cloud-based system.
- Require full vendor transparency and reporting. As part of the contracting process, require vendors to provide reports that capture their performance in many areas, including network/system uptime; responsiveness to major issues; responsiveness to minor issues; ability to deliver new capabilities, functionality, and features; responsiveness to security breaches; etc.
- Get trained. Do not skimp on training and expect the vendor to take care of everything for you. IT and the business should be fully trained to manage and oversee system performance, just as they would if the solution were on-site.
- Don’t implement it and forget it. Even though the solution is in the cloud and it’s the vendor’s job to keep the technical environment up and running, the day-to-day operation of the system is the responsibility of the user organization and will require constant oversight and input from IT and the business. While IT does not have to oversee the hardware or software, they are accountable for networking and system performance, and the business is responsible for ongoing operations.
- Ask vendors for system enhancements. After using a system for two to six months, audit its performance and functionality and ask the vendor for enhancements. If a new or upgraded feature is good for your organization, it will likely benefit others; this is why vendors are often interested in hearing recommendations.
- Optimize system performance. Constantly look for ways to improve the performance of your environment. This is the responsibility of the user organization, not the cloud vendor.
- Audit the vendor relationship. Create a score/report card that allows your company to determine if the vendor is a good partner who is dedicated to your company’s short- and long-term success. Conduct a full audit of the system and vendor every three months and perform a more informal review every month.
- Conduct a formal review session with the vendor. Meet quarterly with the vendor to review its performance and discuss ways to improve the system and the vendor/client relationship. Business and IT should be involved in these meetings.
- Be proactive when negotiating contract renewals. As with any contract, vendors are more responsive when a contract is in play. Six to nine months before the contract is up, compile a list of system needs and wants and address them when negotiating your renewal.
Companies are often surprised and a little disappointed when they realize that they are still responsible for a system after moving it to the cloud. The more successful cloud-based system initiatives are those where the vendor and company sit down during contract negotiation to set expectations and document responsibilities. Once these requirements are documented, they should be addressed in the service-level agreement (SLA), as well as the implementation and ongoing support and maintenance sections of the contract. Investing a small amount of time on these important issues during contract negotiations will align expectations and save both the company and the vendor a great deal of time, effort, and cost during the course of their relationship.