All the World's a Stage

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Anyone who has been in technology long enough knows the two biggest implementation miscalculations—time and money. Exceeding project deadlines and budgets is an unfortunate, yet common, scenario perpetuated by financial executives in their desire to obtain an accurate assessment of a project’s entire cost. Often the problem is one of size and scope: Many implementations are so large that it becomes nearly impossible to accurately forecast their deadlines and costs.

Experts agree that project leaders should break large implementations into stages,  estimating deadlines and costs at each stage. This approach offers several benefits. When projects are smaller they become more manageable and their deadlines and costs become more predictable. Additionally, unlike large projects, small projects yield quick wins, which build enthusiasm and support throughout an organization.

To help you break things down, Managing Editor Leonard Klie reveals the various stages of a speech technology implementation in his feature, "Don’t Spend It All at Once." One of the stages mentioned in his story is usability testing—a stage that’s important but difficult to prove valuable because of its preventative nature. Unfortunately, many business leaders are reactive thinkers who spend money only when faced with no other choice. Think of it this way: Testing the health of a speech system early and often is much like sending a child to the doctor for regular checkups—it’s just the right thing to do. For information on best practices in usability testing read Editorial Assistant Ryan Joe’s feature, "What’s the Use?"

For those still skittish about speech technology in the contact center, perhaps the agent-assisted IVR model is a worthwhile alternative. Largely led by efforts from Aumtech and Spoken, agent-assisted IVRs provide speech technology that is guided by agents in the background. If a caller has trouble with the IVR, the agent is notified and can jump in to help. This training-wheels approach to building a speech-enabled IVR system can be less expensive than a fully loaded speech-enabled IVR system and still yield some satisfying results. For the pros and cons of this approach, read "Secret Agents" by Assistant Editor Lauren Shopp.

When evaluating a small or large speech technology implementation, it’s important to realize what your organization can handle, and that even large implementations are just small projects strung together.

Last month Speech Technology magazine launched its own blog. Our editors are hip to social networking and will regularly post speech technology musings based on their industry coverage and personal experiences with speech technology. Feel free to join them and blog about anything speech technology-related at www.SpeechTechBlog.com.

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