In this week's newsletter, we introduce a few new topics including
recent research on First Contact Resolution as a key metric for customer
contact centers. We also present an article by Brian Solari about an
approach for rescuing troubled projects.
In addition, we are proud to announce our
new and improved website. To avoid the "cobblers kid" syndrome, we,
too, seek to continuously improve how we address our customers and the
marketplace. As such, we have several new pages on our web-site
including revised videos covering the services that we offer. We hope
that you agree that the enhanced version of the website more clearly
articulates the services that we provide and the value that we deliver.
Check us out!
First Contact Resolution
We are pleased to
share with you research that was recently released by
SupportIndustry.com on the topic of First Contact Resolution.
Our clients often ask us for the key metrics that they should manage to
in their customer contact center. While there are many useful measures,
one of the most critical metrics is First Contact Resolution (FCR). In
addition to improving customer satisfaction, a high FCR can also lead to
increased operational efficiency. This builds on the common theme we
like to share: by making it easier for the customer to do business with
you, you by default become more operationally efficient.
As stated in the beginning of SupportIndustry.com's report:
Successfully addressing your customer's need the first time they
contact you - or better known as First Contact Resolution (FCR) - is an
important metric for any support organization to measure. In many cases,
a higher level of FCR can be directly correlated to higher customer
satisfaction levels, which leads to increased customer loyalty.
If you'd like to learn more about the results of this research we
encourage you to review the
complete article which is available online.
Methodologies & Transformational Leadership to Attain Customer
by Brian Solari
I recently led an
IT project at a well established, privately owned company. The objective
was to design and implement a Sales Operations workflow automation
system using Microsoft SharePoint as the core technology in order to
streamline the opportunity assessment process and gain a competitive
advantage with faster time-to-market. This company's IT organization had
a small Project Management Office (PMO) which defined, documented and
rigorously adhered to its own project management methodology – one
founded on PMI best practices and a traditional waterfall process. When
I started, the project was already underway; I was handed a requirements
document, an "as-is" business process diagram and a target completion
date. The project team resources identified included a Sales executive
as project sponsor, cross-functional business analysts and managers, and
one software developer.
After establishing the project schedule, conducting weekly team
meetings, reporting status periodically to an executive level steering
committee, moving through the development phase – effectively executing
the project – some problems unfolded. First, too much time was consumed
reviewing, revising, and re-reviewing the process flow diagram. And
these changes to business workflow logic translated into new features
and more sophisticated functionality in the SharePoint system, which not
only warranted additional unplanned time for custom coding, but
necessitated revisions to the requirements document…which I then
discovered had never formally been reviewed and approved by the previous
project manager no longer with the company. Meanwhile, direction I
received from the PMO was to push back and prevent scope creep. Needless
to say, when we tried to plow ahead under schedule duress, the first
round of user acceptance testing was a disaster.
The actively participating project sponsor informed me that despite
addressing everything explicitly identified as in scope in the
requirements document, we were not meeting his expectations. He demanded
a long list of additional product capabilities that were apparently
implicitly communicated from the get-go, yet clearly not specified in
the requirements document. This is when I identified the root problem –
that no matter how successful my team was in terms of managing the
project success metrics (on schedule, in scope, and under budget), this
project was on a fast track for failure because it was not winning on
So I had a choice: remain compliant with prevailing PMO methodology,
tightly controlling scope and delivering only what was agreed to be
delivered in the requirements document; or do what I believed was in the
best interest of all project stakeholders and guide the team toward the
desired end-state. I chose to do whatever it took to meet customer
expectations and deliver expected business value.
Through further analysis of the root problem, and increased
interpersonal communication with the project sponsor, I realized the
customer expectations were based on a vision that could not be fully
represented in the requirements document – in part because the sponsor
knew what he wanted but did not know how to get there. To help
crystallize this vision, I presented some options to the project team,
which participated in the decision to engage real end users, including
executives, for iterative rounds of user acceptance testing –
effectively prototyping smaller sets of functionality until the product
met the vision. The team discovered we needed to re-engineer the
business process and re-write the SharePoint logic concurrently but in
manageable chunks, rather than serially in whole parts. The effort
transformed from an implementation of new technology to simply automate
a process, to using new technology as a vehicle for transparency,
thereby exposing a need to change the business process in order to
realize strategic results. Ultimately we had to move away from the
stage-gate/waterfall methodology requiring a "final" requirements
approval, and implement agile methods of time-boxed software development
and user acceptance test cycles. After only a couple of additional
iterations, the primary customer stated his satisfaction, the team
claimed victory and I successfully closed the project.
One way to frame how I rescued this project is by recycling some
elements of a commonly used acronym, R-E-S-C-U-E (for example, one
variation of it which highlighted traditional best practices around
managing projects in crisis was used in a presentation at Project Summit
2009) – and supplementing it with a fusion of new trends in project
management methodologies and leadership techniques most associated with
project success. In this case, the rescue formula was:
Re-assess the original project objective, and re-align
resources to deliver the desired business outcome.
Explain the vision, and how the team can still achieve
Sprint toward rapid delivery of business value.
Communicate progress early and often.
Utilize your project sponsor to help overcome remaining
End it as soon as you can demonstrate the value you
said you'd deliver.
Ideally, you'd want to prevent a project from ever getting to the point
it needs rescuing. How? Do the same thing, early and often. From the
get-go, Re-assess your project selection process, and
ensure a selected project has a clear business objective that is
strategically aligned to corporate goals. Upon early stages of
execution, leverage transformational leadership to Explain
the vision to the team, and reinforce it regularly. Inspire, motivate,
enable creative problem solving, and always keep the project team
focused on the desired business outcome. Schedule early milestones that
deliver rapid realization of value, then leverage agile methodologies
and Sprint to those milestones. Once you hit your first
business value milestone, Communicate tangible progress.
More than anything else, this will motivate the team, not to mention
balance out any fear of failure that tends to bubble up when issues are
identified. Utilize your sponsor as much as possible in
the beginning – arriving at a meeting of the minds about the end-state
in the beginning stage will help you focus on critical path activities
and facilitate the most robust requirements definition. And have a plan
for how to End it. Plan for how you will manage scope
creep, champion change control, and plant seeds for continuing work to
add supplemental value next time.
Brian Solari is a certified project management professional (PMP)
and business transformation consultant who specializes in promoting
productive partnerships between Information Technology organizations,
the business organizations they support, and the customers to whom they
deliver value. By guiding project teams toward the rapid realization of
business benefits, Brian helps CIOs, technology leaders and business
executives achieve strategic success.
Brian earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Stonehill
College, and holds a Master of Business Administration degree with a
concentration in Information Systems from the Sawyer School of Business
at Suffolk University. He has been practicing IT project management and
delivering business impacting results for over 12 years to employers and
customers including Genuity, Staples, Boston Communications Group,
Computer Sciences Corporation and Camiant.
+ Project R-E-S-C-U-E
+ First Contact Resolution
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