Streamlined, efficient business operations is a top goal for telecom organizations around the world. Effective network management systems fit your unique business environment and allow your team to get up and running quickly, reduce swivel-chair turns, eliminate bandaid workarounds, and decrease operational delays. The key to reaping these benefits? Using your configuration control to unleash the power of the application.
We sat down with Greg Connors, now Technical Product Manager at 3-GIS, but former Technical Lead at Level 3 Communications and longtime GIS specialist, to ask him about his experience with different systems with varying degrees of configurability. Check out what Greg has to say:
Q. Greg, as a user of several network management systems throughout your career, what can you tell us about the overall importance of or advantages experienced by having a configurable system?
A. The big advantage of having a system that is configurable is that the tool can be customized thru configuration, not code, to meet the needs of users and business processes. The application can be quickly deployed in the beginning and you can make minor configuration tweaks along the way as your user base grows and provides feedback.
It gives you the flexibility to limit functionality and access rights depending on the requirements and functions of each group within the company. With configuration you have the ability to configure the tools to capture the information that is important to your business, along with how you want it captured - for example, entering values free form or using specified values in a domain list and restricting edit access to those who are responsible for the data.
It allows you to simplify and focus the interface to be specific to each group’s requirements and business processes. This will result in quicker adoption of the application, the overall use and value to the company. If the tool is configurable to meet the varying needs of all organizations within the company, they will collectively rely on the data across organizations to run the business which inturn will improve the overall data quality and value of the data to the business.
Q. What specific business challenges did you encounter when working with a system that was not easily configured?
A. I would say the biggest challenge was user adoption to the new system. When you are trying to convince people to go with an off-the-shelf (COTS) application it is challenging if that tool cannot be configured to meet the needs of the users or business processes. In most cases when you are implementing a new application you may be replacing an application that was built in house and very specific to the business needs. It is always challenging to get users to adopt a new application and having the flexibility to mold the application to the user’s needs, the better potential you have for adoption.
If the application is not configurable to enable this, groups will go off and develop their own applications within each organization to meet their needs which in-turn can lead to multiple sources or silos of data and increases the overall system cost due to having to maintain multiple applications.
Q. Describe a few of the processes that were streamlined or facilitated after adopting a system with configurability.
A. One example where we improved a process was in the modeling and turn-up of new building adds to the network. This work was typically done by a centralized team based on design drawings and as-builts provided by the field. By implementing and configuring 3-GIS with automated structure and cable naming, required attribution and business rules, we streamlined the modeling of the new fiber and made the data consistent across the country. This simplified the process to model these new builds and allowed us to move that responsibility out to the OSP engineers in the field across the country. The end result was a streamlined process where the OSP engineers took on the responsibility of this modeling; they took ownership of the data and began to rely on the tool and data to manage the network.
Another example of a process that was facilitated was for the sales engineer and solution architecture teams. By configuring 3-GIS to have read-only access to the physical network data globally and configuring specific tools to help facilitate their network design process, we eliminated the need for them to rely on a centralized mapping team to develop their customer solutions. Providing them with access to the network data and the ability to trace customers’ existing circuits, the sales team could quickly analyze and design new diverse network solutions for customers.
Q. Any final thoughts or comments?
A. Configuration is important to provide flexibility within the application to meet the requirements of the business and user base. It allows you to simplify and focus the application for specific groups and processes within the company. This in-turn improves user adoption and the reliance on the application and data. As this grows and all aspects of the business have visibility to the data, the overall data accuracy and value to the business grows.