Workflows Everywhere

 Reporting  Comments Off on Workflows Everywhere
Oct 242011

Workflows everywhere: In trouble ticketing platforms, CRM, Inventory Management Systems, Service Management Systems, Order Management Systems. Each of these systems implement some kind of workflow engine to automate the processes they depend on.

Would not it be wise to merge all those in a common workflow engine? Would not it be more easy to manage the workflow environment  and migrate to a BPM one?

It will definetly increase managebility and reduce costs. But the biggest obstacle that rises is the integration tax. Centralization means complete integration. Each and every platform should be integrated to this centralized workflow management system via some kind of distributed computing technology such as web service or CORBA. The systems that implement older technologies will not support the newer integration enablers. When this happens, it will be a necessity to install an ESB in the middle.

The second concern that may appear at the application side is the flexibility of those applications. The applications should allow to hand over control logic to an external application, and some of those, especially the legacy ones will not allow you to touch their logic. (The same problem will also be faced when dealing with BRMS platforms) . To overcome this, we may implement “dummy” workflows that will trigger the main workflow engine, but again, you will have to design the workflow in two places.

Because of these reasons, the centralized workflow environment may bring additional burden instead of removing some.  For the greenfield type operators , that can be a highly applicable strategy but for operators who has lots of diversed systems and vendors, that seems not be very feasible.


SQM Implementation Approaches

 SQM  Comments Off on SQM Implementation Approaches
Oct 042011

Service quality management is becoming more popular day after day. The reason behind this is the data boom in the mobile communications area.

Service providers are aware that they need to move to service management in order to take control of the quality of their services, at least from the service provider perspective.

After the need is realized, they try to project the scope of such a service management migration. Are our data sources ready? Do we need to pay extra licenses to the OSS vendors? How should we set-up new business processes or change the existing ones? etc.

As you can see, the operator should handle both technical and business aspects of the migration. On the technical side, operators typically prefer to run some assessments with software vendors in order to understand their technical readiness for the SQM.

We are seeing 2 approaches in such assessments which OSS vendors follow.

1-) Top down
2-) Bottom up

Bottom up approach, focuses on collecting as much information as possible. In this approach, vendors look at all the data sources that are available in the resource domain. These include FM, PM and the elements themselves. Then they ask the customer which of these KPI/KQIs are needed by him. Since the customer generally knows very little about the concept at this stage, he asks for all of them. And the scope gets bigger and bigger. After some point, when it is the time to bind these KPI’s and KQI’s to the service itself, we come up with lots of unnecessary details. At this stage, the vendor/customer returns back to square one to re-evaluate the needs.

Top down approach tries to get rid of this situation. It first asks the business need. Why I am moving to SQM? Which services I am going to manage under the SQM process? What should be the least granular service tree that can reflect my operational status? Are there any off-the-shelf products around to guide me in formulating details like modelling?

Staring with questions like these, helps the customer to focus what he needs, nothing more. The outcome would be shorter implementation periods, reduced risk and more importantly a successful SQM project.

More Printed Articles

 Inventory Management, SQM  Comments Off on More Printed Articles
Oct 042011

Here are 3 articles that I have sent to a Turkish telecommunications magazine:
Unfortunately there is no English translation, but I can say that the context is in-line with my previous blog articles. – December 2011 Issue
Mobile Devices and Web Experience – Page: 62,63 – September 2011 Issue
Network Inventory Management Systems – Page: 54,55 – August 2011 Issue
Service Quality Management – Page: 54,55

Workforce Management Systems

 Configuration Management, Order management  Comments Off on Workforce Management Systems
Oct 042011

Most of the processes that we see in the OSS/BSS environment require some kind of manual activity. These activities differ from configuring a server over a telnet session or a truck roll to the customer site to install an equipment.

In telco world, we call these manual tasks as work orders. Work orders can be assigned to people from our internal organization or to supplier/partners. Most operators use the outsourcing model and rely on supplier/partners to handle their installation and maintenance tasks for their networking equipment. Usually, as the geography increase, multiple supplier partners are also enter into the picture.

When work order counts start to increase and there are multiple supplier/partners that are in charge of specific regions, it is hard to manage and coordinate all these transactions.

Here comes the Workforce Management Systems. Workforce management systems, manage the work orders and their coordination between different parties.

Other than coordination, these systems have another very important task: Scheduling and Dispatching.

Scheduling means, maintaining the calendar of all the involved parties in the work order chain. This way, Allocated/Free time periods can be tracked and best time to accomplish a task can be determined. Dispatching function can then auto-dispatch the work order to a resource that has free time in his calendar. Dispatching can also take into account resource skills. After entering the resource skills to the system, the system can also dispatch the task to a person who have the necessary skills.

Unfortunately, it is hard to find so many Telco workforce management systems nowadays. Some OSS/BSS vendors claim that they can run this function via their trouble ticket systems however these solutions fall short in responding to some of the workforce management challenges such as skill tracking. Nevertheless, there are also some ISVs in the sector that are offering promising solutions.

Carefully designed workforce management platforms help CSPs increase efficiency in their repair as well as order management activities.