How to Reduce Contact Center Implementation Cost Surprises


Have you ever experienced a contact center implementation project where there were surprise costs? If so, in my experience you are one of a long list of companies that have. I don’t know the industry statistics for how often this occurs in contact centers, but a variety of 3rd party IT industry organizations and journals say it’s above 30% for software projects.

Below are some tips you might find useful on how to reduce the risk of surprises for your future contact center projects.


In working for contact center professional services (PS) companies for over 30 years, I have found a common theme. When choosing a PS firm for an implementation project, many customers tend to focus on the total price of vendors’ estimates to make their decision, without thoroughly evaluating all other details. Unfortunately, this can result in cost surprises during and/or after the project.

Tips for Success

To avoid this problem, there are three tips you might want to consider when comparing professional services proposals, in addition to the total price:

Perform a Detailed Comparison of Scopes of Work

Many customers request quotes from professional services vendors by giving them a brief description of their requirements. Vendors in turn respond by providing a proposal that describes the scope of work they will provide. The challenge is that all the proposals are almost always different from each other and customers may not realize that the differences can be significant. Missing items in the scope can lead to surprise cost increases if they are necessary and added later.

To illustrate this point I’ll use a very simple example. If the customer’s application requirement is for “inbound voice for 5 queues”, one PS vendor might propose skills-based routing for up to 10 skills, call back, screen pop and custom reports, while another one proposes queue-based routing for up to 5 skills, no call-back or screen pop and standard out-of-the-box reports.

To overcome this issue, you will need to think carefully about the application features and services your organization requires and then complete a very detailed side-by-side comparison of the vendors’ scopes of work against those requirements. This is often an iterative process with the vendors. The first round of proposals (and conversations with each vendor) will allow you to learn more about what you will need and to make a more comprehensive list of requirements. Subsequent rounds will allow you to collect any missing information from each vendor and finish your comparative analysis.

Ultimately, you need to become very familiar with every detail in vendors’ scopes of work. This will ensure that the chosen proposal contains what is needed and will reduce unpleasant surprises.

Closely Examine Vendors’ Experience and Methodologies

Sometimes customers who have embarked on a PS project are frustrated that the chosen vendor didn’t really have the right expertise for implementing the technology and applications for their environment. The result was their project cost more because it took longer and/or there were quality issues that reduced the benefits of the solution.

To address this issue, you need to closely examine the vendor’s experience and methodology for implementing the technology and applications in environments like yours. Also ask for references that are similar in scope to your project. Lastly, try to get a sense of the satisfaction level and churn rate of their existing clients – in other words, beware of ‘one and done’ service providers or ones who can’t back up their claims.

Use Total Hours as a Potential Warning Sign

The total number of hours can be a good warning sign of surprise change requests. If there is a wide variation between vendors’ quotes, you need to understand why. For example, one vendor may be forthright and anticipate what you will really need, while another services provider may quote a low-ball number to get you committed, with the intent of adding hours via change requests as the project moves forward. A wide variance in hours can mean there are gaps in services or application features.


By doing a detailed side-by-side comparison of vendors’ scopes of work and closely examining their experience, methodology and total hours, you will have a much better picture of your project and the associated costs. It’s not guaranteed that by using this approach you will not have cost surprises, but you will have definitely reduced your risk.

Jamie Coutts is a CCNG member who has been working in management, sales and solution consulting roles with contact center technology vendors for over 30 years. He is currently Vice President of Client Development of Star Telecom, a leading cloud contact center and telecom services provider.

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