February 7, 2014

The Pitfalls of OSS Transformation

OSS transformation can bring serious business risks which a CSP much anticipate and plan to address. Although many CSPs have modernized their OSS, prior to starting they may not have had a clear view of the potential issues that could arise.

OSS transformation has been a much talked about phenomenon in the telecom industry for the last few years due to the significant opportunities and benefits it presents to CSPs. But on the other side of the coin, OSS transformation can also bring serious business risks which a CSP much anticipate and plan to address.  

As a result of OSS optimization, 85 percent of operators report that they are enjoying faster time-to-market for new offerings, the ability to roll out niche products, a faster order-to-cash cycle, lower operational costs, the ability to support more customers and new services such as M2M, fewer customer complaints, and lower churn rates. Although many CSPs have modernized and even replaced their OSS infrastructures, prior to starting their project they may not have had a clear view of the potential issues or problems that could arise.


It is important for operators to determine first when the time is right for transformation. While there’s no perfect time to undertake this kind of project, the most frequent catalyst is after an M&A deal, when maintaining legacy systems becomes too expensive and inefficient to operate. M&A is not the only driver, however, as enterprise-wide cost and efficiency initiatives or launch of new lines of business can also be key drivers.

Priorities and Goals

Next, operators need to focus on identifying the right priorities and goals for the transformation. Careful planning is the key to success. Identify specific drivers for making the transformation, such as actual pain points the company is facing, and then create a business case for OSS transformation. This can include identifying expected KPI improvements using a standard business metric framework, making sure you have the right resources with the right skills, and conducting personnel training on the new OSS stack.

There are some things to avoid while making the transformation, including assuming the process is quick and easy and not having a roadmap during the project itself. Other things to keep in mind include monitoring and maintaining KPIs and costs, estimating internal abilities and skill sets accurately and having a clearly defined strategy. These are all essential to ensure good governance and a successful transformation process.

Team Structure

Building a proper team is another critical factor to take into consideration. Companies tend to overestimate the skills and expertise of their internal resources. One approach is to use third-party experts and consulting services in order to mitigate risk during a transformation project. Those third-party experts should be experts with successful track records in large scale transformation. This is a very specific and distinct skill set that not every expert technology or business consulting organization necessarily possesses.

Timing and Timeliness

Operators also should not forget that executing a migration to a new OSS architecture requires substantial and appropriate time. An overly quick approach can be too risky and may affect critical business operations. Conversely, a long migration period can also be costly as the legacy system needs to coexist with the new OSS in order to facilitate the exchange of information between the two architectures. Drawn out transformation programs can also lose necessary executive support and may fail to demonstrate incremental benefits phase by phase. Understanding the right timing and pace is important early on in order to set realistic expectations and define practical milestones.

Key Metrics and Expectations

For CSPs that are planning to transform their OSS infrastructure, expectations should be based upon specific performance metrics. When done well, key high-level metrics indicate that:

  • Time-to-market for new products and services can be decreased by more than 50%
  • Service fulfillment duration can be decreased by 80%
  • The amount of order fallout can be decreased by 50%
  • The number of activated subscribers can reach 50,000 per hour
  • Network inventory accuracy can be reach more than 98%
  • Problem handling time can be reduced by 80%
  • The number of outages can be reduced by 16%

Other important metrics that an OSS transformation can improve often include maintenance and support costs, customer satisfaction, customer churn, and OPEX reduction.

If the planned OSS transformation aligns with a CSP’s business needs, is driven by benefits and focused on delivery, and leverages the right skills and shows compliance to industry standards and best practices, and allows full and effective user adoption, it has an excellent chance of being successful. There is no single correct approach to OSS transformation that can be applied across the board to every CSP. But having some insight into the possible risk factors and how to overcome them, and measuring progress and success against the correct and most useful metrics, can lead to results that will benefit the entire organization for a long duration.

Photo by Ian Sane with Creative Commons license




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