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Wholesale Order Management Headaches – When a Managed Services Approach Makes Sense

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An interview with Jill Guffey, Senior Director of Client Services at TransUnion

Most businesses today are in the process of modernizing their operations to manage costs and drive efficiencies. The telecommunications industry is no different, especially given the need to deliver the advanced services enterprise customers demand, such as SD-WAN, cloud and edge computing, and Network as a Service (NaaS).

Digital transformation in telecom is especially needed when it comes to wholesale order management, specifically when delivering these advanced services across an enterprise’s locations which are often spread beyond a communication service provider’s (CSPs) network footprint. In these instances, CSPs rely on wholesale connectivity partners to ensure a seamless experience for their enterprise customers.

There are many challenges with this part of the industry. For instance, the process of buying and selling wholesale network services is ridden with complexity. The wholesale order environment is marked by legacy systems and processes. Resourcing issues are at an all-time high from ongoing job cuts and fewer knowledgeable staff to handle the intricacies of this multifaceted environment. All this can lead to increased inefficiencies and errors, resulting in longer processing times, slower time to revenue and unhappy customers.

And for CSPs interested in modernizing their wholesale ordering systems and processes, this chaotic ecosystem can create numerous roadblocks for implementing new technology — leaving many to wonder if it’s worth the effort.

We sat down with TransUnion Senior Director of Client Services Jill Guffey (who has over 24 years of experience in the telecommunications industry) to discuss the current state of the wholesale order management function and how more carriers are utilizing managed services to deal with their legacy issues.

Can you describe the obstacles operators face as they integrate a digital transformation strategy into their wholesale order management functions?

Operators face several challenges. Right off the bat, there can be a lot of resistance around changing out legacy equipment critical to day-to-day operations. The potential for failure and resulting impacts to the customer experience, extended downtime or lost data from disparate systems can be real issues. On the flip side, maintaining those legacy systems and using them to meet customer demands is also a challenge due to staff turnover and retiring knowledgeable resources. Training new staff can be a tall order due to the expert level of technical skills required for many of these highly specialized positions.

In addition, managing high volumes of orders is an ongoing challenge, even with the best staff. When short staffing is present, fulfilling orders takes longer and sometimes results in more errors, leading to dissatisfied customers. Moreover, departments are pressured to control costs, necessitating the need to reduce investment in the latest tools.

What cost does this have for operators?

The cost is high when wholesale operations aren’t running at maximum efficiency. The quickly evolving telecom environment means system requirements are getting more complex. This leads to additional operational challenges around the lack of staff expertise, increasing frequency of errors and the ongoing problem of staff retention. Order issues can lead to dissatisfied customers, damage to brand reputation and lost business. When a business isn’t functioning well, it can lead to low employee morale, high turnover and job cuts.

Can wholesale order management functions be automated?

Some can — and we’ve done a lot of that in our Universal Order Connect (UOC) platform by simplifying ordering processes, eliminating many manual tasks, managing complex order requirements and incoming orders more efficiently and connecting other systems via APIs. With that said, we know automation won’t address all needs —at least not yet. Significant hurdles still exist, including costly and time-consuming upgrades to business infrastructure — which simply aren’t in the cards for many service providers right now.

Read: How APIs Bridge the Gap for Communications Service Provider Interoperability

How does TransUnion address these challenges?

I’m fortunate to be part of an exceptional team. Utilizing our robust UOC platform and a dedicated, tenured staff of experienced professionals, we provide a full suite of Managed Services to help CSPs with both legacy systems and processes, and their digital transformation efforts. Whether it's processing orders, liaising with suppliers, external and internal customer support or troubleshooting issues, our team excels in handling it all. What sets us apart is our ability to seamlessly integrate with our clients’ operations. Through meticulous, upfront research and day-to-day interactions with our customers’ businesses, we drive ongoing improvements, identifying areas for enhancement and developing automated solutions where possible.

Do you provide the same service for every type of customer?

It really varies by customer. Recognizing the unique needs of each business, we deliver personalized support to simplify whatever aspect of order creation and management the customer needs. Some customers outsource certain pieces of their operation, while others have us come in to fully manage their order management. Some customers choose to pair our Managed Services with our UOC automation solutions, and some want us to step in and derive cost reduction from our Managed Services using their internal systems. Our portfolio of Managed Services includes:

  • Order submission
  • FOC management
  • Fallout management
  • Test and turn-up of systems
  • Circuit completion
  • Supplier performance management
  • Circuit ID/inventory system management
  • Overall project management.

In addition, we provide regular reports on key operational metrics, producing details like order volumes, carrier response times, at-risk orders, and SLA performance and forecast reviews.

For example, one of our Managed Services customers is a leading CSP in the US that offers voice and data services across 25 states. It was dealing with a lot of complexity from legacy systems and enhancements it made over the years. The provider was also challenged with staff turnover and training new resources for this highly specialized area of the business. Knowing about our decades of expertise and responsiveness, it brought in our Managed Services team which was able to step in to create efficiencies and automate some critical areas of its wholesale business — which in turn helped it generate revenue more quickly.

What’s your opinion on utilizing offshore resources?

Today, many companies successfully utilize offshore resources to help control costs. It’s all in the balance and who you work with. At TransUnion, we utilize a best-practice, dual-shore model. Our customers typically interact exclusively with our onshore personnel while deriving the efficiency benefit of our strong and experienced offshore team. We’re fortunate to have worked with our offshore resources for close to 20 years. We know their strengths and they know our business. We use a combined approach leveraging these strengths so our customers receive the best outcomes: cost savings and a job done right.

However, I will add we can support your requirements with onshore resources only — based on your preference or security requirements.

What’s the process/delivery approach before starting a managed services project; how does TransUnion step in?

Because of our deep industry knowledge, we can get things rolling quickly. It all depends on the CSP’s requirements and how fast it can provide the data needed to get started. At a high level, the key steps of a typical project include a project kick-off session, transition workshop, staff training, and final go-live readiness review. Along the way, we gather information, learn how the carrier operates and identify the steps that need to be accomplished to ensure a smooth transition of operations.

How are TransUnion’s managed services different from other companies providing this service?

Our managed services stand out through a distinct, results-driven approach based on outcomes rather than headcount. With long-tenured expertise in filling customers’ knowledge gaps and improving operational efficiency, we deliver customized support tailored to each CSP’s needs while helping them reduce costs. We prioritize results, ensuring faster order processing and ongoing enhancements through regular reviews and automation. Offering robust SLAs and integrating technology solutions, our decades of telecom experience enable us to hit the ground running, requiring minimal ramp-up time for swift and effective implementation.

Want to learn more?

Learn more about our Managed Services and Universal Order Connect, and download the eBook — How CSPs Are Augmenting Staff and Remaining Competitive with Managed Services — to find out how outsourcing (particularly managed services) can be a valuable, strategic tool for service providers looking to remain competitive in today’s challenging market without increasing headcount.

Do you have questions? Our team is ready to help.