Why should business strategy people even care about process?

Written by on April 13, 2015 in BillingViews, Guest Blog with 0 Comments

Strategy Development Goal Marketing Vision Planning BusinessFirstly, let me throw out a controversial statement; “TM Forum’s Business Process Framework (eTOM) provides, the best platform available to bridge the gap between Business Strategy and Technological Execution”!

This is not to say that the Business Process Framework (eTOM) alone is enough, but in conjunction with other best practices it can perform magic.

I do wish not address the technology aspect of eTOM, but the organizational development and awareness to which eTOM can provide a very good platform to start from.

The TM Forum references processes in levels i.e. 0,1,2,3 etc. For the purpose of organizational development and awareness I refer to these as tasks or activities that need to be performed. This is to distinguish between organizational awareness as opposed to defined system flows.

Another reason is to better identify, understand and visualize the current and hence define the desired interaction between organizational elements both tangible (people, equipment) and intangible (software and processes) to achieve operational optimization and as a result provide better value to customers. I refer to optimization as ‘ironing out bumps and eliminating obstacles to move information and pass activities from one area of the business to the next or across departments,’ if you wish – horizontal, as opposed to tuning, that is the same but contained within a department or function – vertical.

As an example: Time to deliver or resolve. Many companies require people to fill in paper application forms to place an order or to be provided a service. Registering Customers from paper applications is in itself a manual task. Paper applications are mostly tied to a particular product and in cases where customers need several services paper applications often generate the need for double and triple entries of customer information across systems, but not limited to this scenario. The duplication of customer information entries is also caused by other scenarios linked to system integration issues, etc. The staff that own the process of taking and entering orders, often have no idea what it takes to provision the order, or to de-activate the resources if it is a termination order.

Do frontline people need to know this? Probably not. But picture this. Most people these days know exactly what they want before contacting the service provider. They contact the service provider to verify and or to place an order. Prior to contacting a service provider customers investigate the performance, packaging, price etc.

Let’s say the customer (residential) orders and ADSL2 specified according to service provider web site delivering a bandwidth of 10-20mb. Also included are IPTV, Free fixed line calls to 100 countries, 10 Gb cloud storage.

When the customer gets home after work he or she only gets 7Mb bandwidth. This repeats itself every evening. Then the customer calls to file a complaint. The frontline staff then contacts engineering. But rather than addressing the problem they are being told that this is perfectly normal as the network gets congested at that time of the day. This is a, “customer is drowning and the engineers are describing the water” scenario and the customer service agent ends up as a messenger.

Let’s say the service provider internally agrees that the expectation set on its web site and other collateral are setting misleading expectations and need to be changed to reflect reality. To do this, tests need to be carried out to determine the bandwidth that can be expected at different time periods. These tests have to be carried out ahead of re-writing collateral. Prior to the development of new collateral for the customer and testing network elements for capacity correlated with time bands, there are many other tasks that need to be carried out. The TM Forum’s Business Process Framework i.e. eTOM will help all staff involved identify where they fit in the chain, understand what their contribution means to the bigger picture, and when combined with other best practices such as TOGAF ADM and Osterwalder, will help them visualize and hence understand the optimization potential.

Wouldn’t it be beneficial if all involved parties across all involved functions/departments understood the roles and responsibilities and the sequence in which they need to happen in order to get as correct information and set the right expectation with the customers? Wouldn’t that information be of greater value to customer? Doesn’t it have the potential of reducing complaints? Wouldn’t it create a better atmosphere internally in the service provider’s organization? …And what would it do to culture?

What is the reference and the common platform to:

  • Explore problem solving;
  • Identify the means to solve;
  • Understand what staff need to do what;
  • Visualize what causes “bad” today and what “good” looks like tomorrow;
  • What optimization means and what values can be identified?

It is the Business Process Framework (eTOM) – but referenced as tasks/activities and not process levels.

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About the Author

About the Author: Cato is an industry veteran and Subject Matter Expert bridging Business Architecture and Support Architecture with more than two decades hands on leadership and management experience performing complex Business Solutions project. Cato also regularly speaks at industry events. He has experience from working with vendors, service providers, management-for-hire and consulting. .


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