Having buyer’s remorse over the purchase of an appliance, article of clothing, or even an automobile is one thing. Remorse over spending tens of thousands of dollars on a software system that was supposed to make your life easier is quite another.
Buyer’s remorse is the result of not one or two bad choices; it can be a compilation of multiple mistakes that are not visible until after the software is implemented. Some common reasons for software purchasing mistakes are:
- Lack of pre-planning and not adhering to a budget
- Buying features you may not need for years
- Using a “follow the crowd” mentality
- Succumbing to the idea that one solution can fix your problems
Software is a tool, not a magic bullet. As any craftsman can tell you, a tool is only as good as the person using it to improve an existing system or create something new.
Overbuying software is just as financially dangerous as under-buying. Experts concur that the biggest purchasing mistake companies make is overbuying. This includes buying software that is complex, difficult to implement, does not match current or future business needs, and exceeds their budget. Overbuying can also result from exaggerated vendor promises.
Buyer’s remorse can be avoided with a few simple steps:
- Understand the Importance of What You are Purchasing
For call centers, workforce management is your most important software investment. Workforce management provides a foundation for all other services. If a workforce management system is not functional, or does not gather enough data to generate an accurate forecast, other software becomes secondary.
One workforce management vendor states that 78% of their install base is replacement systems. That statistic alone should catch the attention of prospective buyers. Many companies purchase software based on features only and ignore other critical factors such as scalability and flexibility which includes the software’s ability to grow with their company and meet ever-changing needs. If the technology does not match your ability to implement and manage the software, the result is a purchasing mistake and wasted resources.
- Don’t Follow the Crowd
If you buy into the idea that “bigger is better” or because a vendor has more customers they must be better, you risk making a purchase that does not fit your needs. The market is competitive and all vendors position themselves in the most favorable light through revenue reports, analyst ratings, magazine endorsements and, often, exaggerated claims.
Due diligence is important, but understand your needs and ensure they are being met. The best method of vendor evaluation is customer referrals. Ask about promises made versus promises kept. Examine nuances that make a difference in functionality and performance such as how frequently the software is upgraded and how changes in the software will impact your organization. Additionally, inquire about customer service and software support.
- Evaluate Your Vendor
The quality of the vendor is as important as the quality of the software. Many companies have been acquired and their products merged with other solutions out of their area of expertise. A company may have a solid reputation for developing their own solutions but lack innovation and functionality with acquired software.
Vendor considerations should also include longevity factors as well as the likelihood of the company being acquired and merged into an organization with which you have no prior relationship.
Signs of a Purchasing Mistake
The most common problems that constitute purchasing mistakes involve inaccurate forecasting and an inability to generate requirements at the interval level. Both of these problems are tied to inadequate scheduling algorithms.
Accurate forecasting is based on several components, including: the amount of historical data available; the nature of the data; the forecasting period; an infinite number of different service objectives on one or more work streams; and, algorithms that reflect real life customer behavior.
A workforce management system should be able to maintain several years of historical data in order to generate an accurate forecast. Bottom line criteria for a functional workforce management system include:
- How much data can it store/use?
- Can it account for inflation due to abandoned calls?
- Can it recognize seasonal and growth trends?
- Can you input special event information and apply correlation factors?
The biggest clue that you have made a purchasing mistake is if you are experiencing over- or under-staffing. Both scenarios are deadly to bottom-line revenue. Idle agents or unanswered phones lead to disastrous business results through wasted labor expense and customers lost to poor service.
What to Do – Workaround or Replacement
This is a difficult decision and companies are often left with few good options. The likelihood of your vendor providing a viable solution is based on the fact that they put you in this precarious situation in the first place. If a solution is offered, what are the chances of success and how long will the process take?
Replacing a workforce management system can be costly and frustrating; but at the end of the day, it may provide the best option. Before replacing a system, ensure that the original software was implemented correctly and all users are adequately trained. Poor training can result in under-utilization or software not meeting service levels.
Workforce management is based on science and should be approached from a scientific perspective. Only systems whose algorithms have been tested over time and proven accurate will produce forecasts that eliminate scheduling errors such as under- and overstaffing. Avoid buyer’s remorse by taking time to carefully evaluate your business needs before investing in a software solution.