6 Steps to Avoid an End-of-Support Nightmare

Guest Blog by Stephen Leaden, Founder and President of Leaden Associates, Inc. 

For most enterprise clients, the single largest reason for making a change to their contact center technology is end of support by the manufacturer. Of course, change is also driven by other factors — mergers and acquisitions with disparate systems, customer experience (CX) priorities, a desire to move to the cloud, new compliance requirements, competitive pressures, mobility, virtualized or remote staff needs, disaster recovery/business continuity, and access to personnel anytime, anywhere. But end of support can create roadblocks to achieving many, if not all, of these other goals.

In a recent webinar with Fernando Egea, Vice President, Sales Strategy at Genesys, we discussed end of support — with straight talk on what companies need to know now. Surprisingly, when it comes to contact center technology, many firms don’t fully grasp the implications of end of support because they aren’t always clear or obvious.

The Risk of Doing Nothing
All enterprises should take end of support seriously; it poses serious risks to the organization through security vulnerabilities and even potential downtime. Yet, many companies perceive remaining on their current familiar system as the “safe” choice. Business and IT leaders must ask the following questions:

  • How would the enterprise function in the event of a multiday outage — with no ability to communicate internally or externally if something like this happened?
  • What risk(s) would this situation pose to the safety of the staff and community?
  • What risk would this type of outage mean for you personally?

We’ve seen the impact of end-of-support-related downtime on organizations and the people they serve.

  • A large hospital incurred a serious outage at one of its main locations and the problems continued for nearly three days due to non-availability of vendor service staff who were skilled in the legacy system.
  • A major university lost service for nearly an entire day — with no ability to send or receive calls.
  • A manufacturing firm lost voicemail for three days with no way to respond to voicemail messages and missed messages related to customer deliveries.

There is also the risk of escalating costs just to maintain the systems while receiving no incremental business value. And there are the less-obvious risks and costs of maintaining the status quo, including foregoing the access to innovative features that help the organization thrive — not just survive.

Decoding End of Support
IT and CX leaders should research exactly what their vendor policy involves. End-of-manufacturer support can mean one or many of the following factors:

  • No updates, upgrades under that release, no new enhancements, no new feature functionality
  • Purchase of additional licensing needs to be performed prior to the end dates, none thereafter
  • No security updates after the end of manufacturer support date on the system core and endpoints
  • Possible compliance issues for regulations like GDPR, PCI, HIPAA
  • Bug fixes on any software issues found after the end-of-manufacturer support date won’t be corrected
  • Fewer technicians with experience with the legacy system over time
  • Fewer parts availability over time
  • Possible extended outage risks without any support
  • Continued maintenance pricing increases — over 30% in a 10-year period in my experience
  • Spending on near-term, temporary upgrades to satisfy an immediate need; in one case, a client invested over $200,000 to temporarily keep the systems up and running and add users

Most on-premises vendors have or will announce end of support for their systems. Some customers face end of vendor support by the end of this year. In the on-demand webinar, I cover one example, in detail and examine the various options available.

Six Steps to Succeed
Doing your due diligence around any major technology change — upgrade or replacement — is essential. These are the themes we emphasize with clients:

  • Protecting your environment from risk and vulnerabilities
  • Exploring what technologies are available and possible “fits” for your organization
  • Identifying a realistic plan for moving forward
  • Determining if the upgrade or replacement aligns with broader corporate strategy
  • Knowing the total cost of ownership and ROI of an upgrade and replacement platforms
  • Validating customer references for any replacement

Following are six steps you should take to avoid end-of-support nightmares so you can rest easy.

  1. Assess your current environment and the possible risk of doing nothing. Determine any impact to corporate vision and strategic plan.
  2. Identify features and functions you need in the near and long term and determine if this list matches or exceeds your legacy system requirements. Consider cloud as your first and best option, especially in light of today’s COVID-19 environment — with the flexibility to add licensing and users within less than 72 hours, if needed.
  3. Develop budgetary costs to upgrade versus those for replacement, including all hardware costs, software costs, professional services fees, staff time and training, and any other costs related to an upgrade or replacement.
  4. Perform an ROI analysis to compare the expected value for legacy upgrades and cloud replacements.
  5. Document the plan to get buy-in from stakeholders and present recommendations to senior management. Include a realistic proposed timeline for approval, implementation and planning purposes that maps to actual End-of-Manufacturer Support date(s).
  6. Get approval from senior management and go shopping — whether through an informal RFI or a more formal RFP, informed shopping gets you better value, a better solution and better expectations for delivery and implementation.

Assessing Your Needs
Ultimately, no organization wants to rely on a legacy system with little to no -support. The risks are all too real and the consequences too great.

The challenge becomes creating a strategy for replacing the legacy system, securing necessary funds and defining a logical migration path. The six-step plan above will help. This process is essential to understanding the level of risk and which new contact center feature/functionality can change the game for your organization.

The Needs Assessment we’ve performed for our clients has proven to be extremely beneficial in their decision-making and planning process. I’m extending a one-hour, no-charge Needs Assessment consult to review your current environment by a select group of independent contact center consultants, including our firm. It will include identifying risks with end of support, options with upgrades, and other vendors. It also provides insights into high-level budgetary costs to upgrade or replace and considerations for high-level budgetary ROI areas based on our experience with other clients. Schedule your one-hour session with an independent consultant now.

And register today to watch the on-demand webinar “Straight talk on end of support.”