Published: April 14, 2014 | Comments (1)
Experts estimate that nearly 70% of organizations are either currently, or are expressing interest in, using Cloud-based hosted solutions. There are enormous proven benefits of Cloud solutions (also known as software as a service, or SaaS) for contact centers. As the trend moves toward the Cloud, the argument for spending money and resources on a premise-based workforce management solution may be diminishing, especially in a challenging economy.
Exploring premise-based workforce management solutions
Despite its popularity, SaaS may not always be a one-size fits all solution. Premise-based solutions are still in use and may offer options for some businesses. Companies who have not investigated SaaS options for workforce management may have erroneous assumptions about how issues such as data and privacy are handled.
Some arguments in favor of premise-based solutions are as follows:
- Some businesses want an on-site data center where they can make changes to their system. Changes can be made quickly and easily with Cloud solutions as well.
- The potential for customization is often much greater with premise-based, enabling IT staff to program the system so it fits the organization's needs at every level. Full customization is possible with Cloud solutions, and often can be achieved faster than with in-house IT staff.
- Some businesses do not like the “multi-tenanted SaaS model” that places many customers on a single database where everyone is affected if one customer has problems. The solution is to find a vendor that offers each customer their own separate and unique database.
- Some companies will not allow a third party access to customer data and feel they must have total control over privacy of proprietary information. The reality is that SaaS vendors have no access to proprietary data such as customer information. The only data collected through SaaS solutions is call counts.
When does SaaS make sense?
The primary reason companies choose a hosted solution is cost. After initial purchase of an in-house installation, there are associated fees involving: licensing, customization, development, deployment, maintenance, monitoring, support, and upgrades. These fees can add costs beyond budget limitations of small to mid-size companies. SaaS allows you to:
- Invest in a software solution that grows as you grow with low cost implementation
- Save money and eliminate the stress of maintaining IT infrastructure
One major advantage of SaaS is that it allows you to focus on managing your business and leave the IT infrastructure to your vendor. Critical projects can be deployed much faster without waiting on your IT department. Most SaaS applications address project requirements in less time than traditional custom software applications. This is especially valuable when you need to create a specialized application for a new customer or handle increased internal production.
In the current economy, SaaS provides an attractive alternative for companies who need the functionality of an enterprise solution, scalability to meet growing needs, and consistent, predictable operational expenses. With SaaS there is no hardware or software to install, eliminating the need for a large capital expenditure. Additionally, SaaS offers fast implementation and flexible subscription terms, with access anytime, anywhere with no “VPN” requirement.
Four considerations before purchasing a SaaS solution
Many vendors now offer Cloud-based solutions and all may sound equal. For the savvy buyer, the nuances make all the difference. For example:
There are only a few companies in the WFM space that have offered a SaaS model for more than three years in this country. Some WFM vendors that have been acquired by ACD/Quality/Suite companies are now claiming to be cloud vendors offering Hosted WFM. Ask for SaaS specific references that have used the hosted solution for more than three years.
Comfort and Security
Some of the smaller WFM Hosted vendors do the hosting in their own data centers which offer very little in the way of cyber security. Service Organization Controls (SOC) 2 and 3 Reports (formerly SAS70) are designed to provide comfort over the following principles: security, availability, confidentiality, processing integrity, and privacy of a system.
Single Tenant SAAS Architecture
Most vendors deploy a multi-tenant architecture. That means they put many customers on the system at a time by partitioning the database. From a support standpoint it becomes a nightmare when one customer causes database issues then every one of the dozens of customers on that server must be moved to another cluster to resolve the issues. You will have a much higher degree of inherent security as the access of data from one company to another is eliminated when housed in a non-shared environment. You will also benefit from significant configurability of the software and robust functionality without concern about the vendor’s other customers having an impact on your data.
Billing should be based on the number of agents scheduled. If your business is seasonal where four months out of the year you need one hundred additional part-time agents, why should you pay for those agents year round?
To make the best purchasing decision, investigate your options and thoroughly research your vendor from an objective point of view. Do not fall for marketing hype that will result in disappointment and the ultimate replacement of your system.
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, 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.