Head for the Cloud with a Hosted Solution
Software as a Service vendors make contact centers more cost-effective
By: Bob Webb, VP Sales
Most businesses in today’s economy are looking to maximize investments and reduce wasted labor and operating expenses. One area that may make or break bottom-line profits is a company’s contact center, which is often the first point of interaction with customers. The expense of implementing and maintaining an enterprise workforce-management solution is a costly investment because such systems require extensive IT support and ongoing maintenance.
Fortunately, those requirements have been replaced with technology that saves money and reduces information technology (IT) labor costs by delivering software over the Internet. Approximately 70 percent of organizations are currently using, or considering, cloud-based hosted solutions — also known as software as a service, or SaaS — for contact centers that stand to benefit from a hosted solution through its many cost-saving and convenience features.Speed and convenience
Hosted solutions free companies from the burden and expense of installing hardware and software. All hardware and software is installed and maintained by the hosting vendor. This may be especially beneficial for small contact centers that lack the resources to implement and maintain a premise-based enterprise.
Many workforce-management systems require a forklift upgrade — essentially, a major infrastructure change — once they grow to a certain size. With hosted solutions, many vendors offer a full suite of enterprise software capabilities without the associated cost, and upgrades are offered as part of the package. Your company pays only for what it needs, but the full enterprise capability is available when and if it’s needed.
Additionally, there is a faster implementation process with hosted solutions. Although premise-based solutions require time and effort on your part, hosted solutions are normally implemented quickly and simply with limited need for IT support. One major advantage of a hosted solution is that it allows you to focus on managing your business and leave the IT infrastructure to your vendor. Critical projects may be deployed much faster without waiting on your IT department. Time is money, and some companies do not have the luxury of waiting to implement a time-sensitive application.Cost savings
With hosted solutions, you pay operating expenses rather than incurring large capital expenditures. The cost of a premise-based solution does not stop with installation. After initial purchase, there are associated fees involving licensing, customization, development, deployment, maintenance, monitoring, support and upgrades. These fees often exceed the budget limitations of small-to-midsize companies.
Hosted solutions also eliminate the need for a virtual private network (VPN) to allow employees to securely access their company’s intranet while away from the office. With a hosted solution, your company’s data may be accessed anytime and anywhere with no VPN requirement.
Another major cost savings found with hosted solutions is flexible contracts and subscription costs. Cost is the primary reason companies choose hosted solutions, and part of that cost savings is the ability to pay as you grow, not as you go. Many vendors provide month-to-month subscription options, and the cost increases only when you decide to expand services. Billing is based on the number of agents scheduled so you are never paying for more than what your company needs. Hosted solutions give more flexibility for companies to manage their IT costs and grow as determined by their customer base, not vendor requirements.Vendor caveats
Although the hosted solution generally offers the most cost-efficient option for companies, there is a caveat attached to choosing a vendor: buyer beware. Only a small number of companies in the workforce-management space have offered a hosted model for more than three years in the United States. Choose a vendor with SaaS-specific references to ensure you are receiving the most benefits from your solution and are not paying for services you may not need for years to come, or for ancillary agents that are only needed part of the year.
A major consideration when choosing a vendor is ensuring that it offers a single-tenant architecture. Most vendors deploy a multitenant architecture, meaning they put many customers on a particular system at a time by partitioning the database. This becomes a nightmare from a support standpoint when one customer causes database issues, which requires every one of the dozens of customers on that server to be moved to another cluster to resolve the problem.
There is a much higher degree of inherent security in a non-shared environment because the access of data from one company to another is eliminated. Your company also benefits from significant configurability of the software and robust functionality without concern about the vendor’s other customers having an impact on your data.
In the current economy, SaaS provides an attractive alternative for companies that need the functionality of an enterprise solution, scalability to meet growing needs and consistent, predictable operational expenses. But to best realize the benefits of a cloud-based solution, do your research before selecting a vendor. Companies that choose their hosted solutions wisely now are much more likely to avoid regrets later. About Pipkins
Pipkins, Inc. is an American company and a leading supplier of workforce management software and services to the call center industry. For over thirty years, Pipkins has created and delivered superior workforce management products for call centers of all sizes with thirteen industry-first applications. WorkforceScheduling.com was created in 2002 and is powered by Pipkins’ premier product Vantage Point, the most accurate forecasting and scheduling tool on the market. WorkforceScheduling.com provides a hosted, low cost, subscription-based, single-tenanted solution for managing call center workforce with feature rich and expandable solutions. Pipkins’ systems forecast and schedule more than 300,000 agents in over 500 locations across all industries worldwide. For more information, visit www.Pipkins.com