Network Management

Now that’s something that we’ve all heard at our workplace at some point..and believe it or not, its not entirely incorrect.

Traditionally most organizations have been created with a vertical structure having clear demarcation of responsibilities and identified handoff points for communication and information interchange between verticals. This was thought to be the most optimum way of assigning limited resources within the organization while allowing for specialization within verticals. Think of this organization as an architectural structure with three key layers:

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  • Apex of the structure represented by executive management and strategy layer of the organization
  • Pillars represented by different verticals within the organization
  • Strong base represented by organizational infrastructure which acts as a common foundation

While efforts are made by every organization to eliminate ‘silos’ in functioning, the inherent nature of this structure results in unidentified hand-offs, ineffective information sharing during hand-offs and compartmentalized view of processes leading to challenges in measuring, improving and most importantly identifying ownership of cross-functional processes. In many instances, different verticals end up shifting accountability of such cross-functional processes at the expense of progression. The pace at which technology, markets and customer demands are changing in present times demand a level of agility within the organizations to respond and keep pace with the market and competition. This places an enormous stress on the organizational structure, particularly on the handoffs between verticals.

Managing millions of dollars’ worth of Network Capex within a Telco is a cross-functional process which experiences similar issues of ownership, handoffs between verticals and lack of a common, centralized view leading to ineffectual Capex tracking much less calculating effectiveness of these Capex investments or return on investments. Typically, Finance is the identified owner of Capex investments in a Telco but most Finance teams struggle with deployment of Capex in the network and more importantly tracking and calculating the return on network Capex investments as they are heavily reliant on Operations team for this information.

Solving this Network Capex conundrum calls for a two-pronged approach, creating a cross-functional Network Capex Assurance team and enabling a supporting technological component to create a Network Capex Control framework. Lets have a closer look,

Network Capex Assurance Team

A cross-functional team which acts as the owner of Network Capex investments within the Telco – typically lead by the CFO or CTO. This team delivers critical insights and drives actions to enhance capital management practices in all phases of the business and comprises of representation from Finance, Planning, Procurement & SCM, Deployment, Operations and IT. The key responsibilities of this team would comprise of,

  • Custodians of Capex management processes
  • Capex planning and validation
  • Ensure data integrity across supporting systems
  • Capex tracking and analysis
  • Standardization & Reporting

Network Capex Control Framework

network capex frameworkAn enabling technological component which supports the Capex Assurance team in delivering their responsibilities by providing a centralized end-to-end view enabled by Network intelligence. Key insights from the framework would cover,

  • Centralized view
  • Standardized processes
  • Utilization and effectiveness
  • Capex & Opex optimization
  • Insights & Analytics

Enabling strong capital management practices is much more than operational or process changes in the organization; it is a fundamental change in the outlook of an organization. Embracing this change will enable agility, data integrity and measures for optimization, better equipping Telcos to respond to the rate of change in the industry..and that should be everyone’s responsibility!

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Along with a thawing of the ground, March brought St Patrick’s day, a traditional Irish day of festivity in which everything Irish is celebrated. It’s also a great excuse to make green cookies and for the kids to dress up as leprechauns wearing shamrocks. In Irish mythology leprechauns are mischievous characters who love to play practical jokes, and keep a pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow. It takes a shrewd person to trick a leprechaun into giving up his gold. The search for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has become a popular way of describing the search for wealth and reward at the end of a journey.   In the world of network management there are rainbows everywhere, since networks are often full of stranded or underutilized assets at the far edges of the network.  Assets that are of great value, but hidden from view. The assets are hidden because they have been moved or not properly registered in inventory or Fixed Asset registers, and so they have become unusable since no one knows where they are.   The knock effects of this are felt throughout a service provider.

Finance

Don’t know the value of assets in the network so cannot provide accurate financial statements

Marketing and Sales

Don’t know what services the network can support or predict the cost will be for implementing new services

Network Management

Can’t manage the network optimally because assets cannot be re-purposed to augment network hotspots

Order drop out from inconsistent and unreliable records

These challenges not only affect the individual functional areas, but can result in open warfare between the groups. Network managers feel they must request ever bigger budgets to compensate for the extra demands being put on the network by new marketing initiatives, and finance fear they are being asked to throw money into a black hole with no possibility of understanding the return on investment. Without cross functional visibility of the companies network assets then suspicion and mistrust can develop between groups, which can cripple a company. Finance need to know if the assets they are purchasing are providing value to money, and marketing need to know if they can confidentially sell new services that will bring in extra revenue. Network managers want to know how they can provide the service required with ever tighter budgets.

By utilizing automated network discovery network managers could re-build, or even create, an inventory that would give them a true picture of what was available in the network. A network discovery tool that could also understand how those assets were being utilized, which services were running on them, and how the network was connected together, could provide a way to optimally utilize every asset to provide a robust network for the least possible cost. When combined with an asset tracking and life cycle management tool such as Subex ROC AA then network discovery can give unprecedented level of visibility of where assets are located, how they are being used and what value they are bringing to the company.  ROC AA with network discovery can uncover the pot of gold hidden at the end of your network.

Resources : pot-of-gold on Free pictures

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