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Key to Successful Network Migrations – Flexible Change Management

Vertek Blog Series – “Lessons Learned: Effective Carrier Migrations,” Part 3

By Mauricio Rosales, Senior Director of Service Delivery

Vertek Corporation’s new blog series, “Lessons Learned: Effective Carrier Migrations,” addresses several areas of managing migrations that we have worked in over the past 20 years to include building a sound business case, maintaining a positive customer experience, managing change and the pros and cons of outsourcing.

In this blog, “Part 3,” Vertek discusses Change Management, and how market demand for new technologies or services can require the rapid acceleration and adoption of new unplanned activities to meet that demand. While these unplanned activities can result in organizational chaos, we will address Change Management, and what elements you need to address in order to successfully sidestep the land mines, implement change and meet market demands for new and improved products and services.

Unplanned events usually begin with a high level decision that, for reasons of security, is not communicated to the people at lower levels within the organization who must handle the details once changes are set in motion. Unfortunately, without the input from those tasked with implementing the changes, unforeseen challenges typically arise that must be identified and resolved before change can be successfully effected. Nowhere is this more common than in migrating from one technology or service to another, either through internal development or acquisition.

Often, after the decision to develop or acquire is complete, different network, service and support strategies exist that must be assessed, consolidated and implemented. The following are several activities that need to be undertaken in order to effectively manage rapid change:

 

Evaluation of Carrier Components in an Acquisition

It might be determined, after in-depth analysis of both carrier networks, that different components from each of the two carriers are superior to their counterparts in the other network. Key consolidation decisions will then need to be made. Areas to compare include:

• Product catalogs – identifying what offerings are identical, similar or unique

• Inventory – identifying duplicate products or assets that are no longer required

• Back office systems – which ones will remain and what modifications need to be done to accommodate new or modified offerings

Results will help determine what actually needs to be migrated or consolidated relative to the network, systems, data, offering and customers to integrate them into a functionally superior offering.

Operations must also identify different equipment, which will be just one more thing to manage from a maintenance, components and training standpoint. There might be several new provisioning centers to manage, new system tools to add, processes to implement and even the need for customers to sign new contracts (probably a major new initiative).

 

Metrics – Measuring and Reacting

How do you know if changes are needed during a migration? Are things progressing as planned? Do you need to make changes? You can answer these questions by setting targets and measuring to them. When measurements are captured, assessed, analyzed and acted upon, you will be able to understand when change is needed.

When reporting and analytics are done properly you will understand both where you have been, but also where you are headed. If you are not satisfied with where you are headed, it’s time to assess what needs to change to positively impact future results.

 

Business as Usual Process (BAU) vs Migration Processes

You might have satisfactory change management skills and approach to your BAU process, but often migrations will put BAU processes to the test. It’s critical, therefore, to establish a set of change management processes up front that are specific to migrations in order to deal with whatever nuances of changes might occur in executing the migration.

 

Steering Committee

Change can be good and bad; it can be small or large; it can impact a few customers or all customers. As you begin the migration process, it’s often the case that you will not know what you don’t know. However, the speed in which you react to needed changes will be critical to the overall success of the migration project. It’s important to consider this, and plan accordingly in the pre-migration planning period. The establishment of a steering committee that represents a cross section of your business makes really good sense. The steering committee allows changes to be assessed in a more formal and recurring fashion, and provides the impact of change to be viewed from multiple perspectives to ensure that making change is good for all organizations.

 

Living Data

During the pre-migration data analysis phase of a migration, carriers typically expend great effort determining customers, segmentations, products and other key data needed to kick-off the migration execution. However, re-assessment of this data is too often overlooked during the actual migration when life cycle changes to the data frequently result from normal BAU activities (new, moves, changes, disconnects). In order to properly understand the required migration project changes neccessary to keep a migration flowing smoothly, one must understand that data needs will evolve, will be in constant flux and you must adapt your understanding of the data to properly stay ahead of the actual impacts that migration changes have on the overall project.

Once this is acknowledged, you should then establish a recurring analysis approach to update the data, and use only the most recent data to drive changes in the migration execution phase. For example, if a customer submits a disconnect for all services after the initial analysis, it would not make sense for the carrier to then reach out to the customer and attempt to discuss the migration. The proper level of continual data assessment can have tremendous benefits during the migration execution phase.

 

Customer Experience

In the best of worlds, managing change for planned migration events permits a carrier to proactively identify impacted customers in advance, take into account any nuances associated with customer metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and construct an effective change management communications strategy that creates a common customer experience across the carrier’s entire footprint. It is important to identify up front and address the challenges posed by network integration, organizational readiness, metrics and organizational agility as it relates to both the carrier’s established and acquiring customer base.

However, unplanned events, driven by unanticipated new developments, will often surface, and compel the carrier to create more flexible change management practices for the migration, usually necessitating urgent real-time communications of the changes within the carrier’s sales, service delivery, service assurance and billing organizations and, of course, with impacted customers.

 

Developing a “What-If” Strategy

During the pre-migration and migration execution phases, you should always assess what changes might be needed in the case of different scenarios. While there is no way to develop and know all the potential scenarios that will come up in a migration, having honest dialog on the ‘what-ifs’ will help you prepare for them and mitigate some risks downstream when they do occur – because they will.

 

Define, Tweak, Capture and Reuse

Change management is not always about the present. Certainly it is critical during migration execution to know when you need to change and how to execute on change. However, one of the benefits of a good change management approach is to capture changes and their resulting impact; then use the learnings for future migrations. By developing a solid framework and capturing key changes and results, you will be developing a best practices approach for future migrations.

 

NOTE: As we continue our blog series on Effective Carrier Migrations, we will focus Blog Number Four on Successful Outsourcing, and the critical elements necessary to understand if you choose to outsource a part or the whole of any migration project.