Having spent much of the last 20 years talking to operators, there are constants in big transformation projects. Here are my top ten tips for successful IT transformations.
1) Before you start, make sure you have the resources (people and documentation) to get into the old systems. Too often the people who knew the old systems have left!
“The system was in no way table driven, and to change anything meant brave expeditions into the code itself.”
CTO, Mobile Operator, Asia Pacific
2) Without a Board Level sponsor, do not start. You need authority to cut through the politics.
“The CEO was on the steering committee and therefore the team had decision making abilities at the highest level.”
CIO, Major US carrier
3) Get as much of the business involved as possible, but maintain control.
“A bigger opportunity was missed – to work with Marketing and other areas of the business in the rationalisation process. Better, more relevant products could have been designed and launched.”
VP, Billing, European operator
4) RFPs – are a pain and some think irrelevant in such a fast moving environment. But they provide clarity, a check-list and foster honesty. They are a necessary evil.
“All RFPs stink, frankly, but I have yet to find a better process for sorting out the best supplier fit for the business. The more specific an RFP is the clearer the answers will be.”
VP of IT, North American Carrier
5) When selecting which system to consolidate on to, design a functionality matrix, and be clinical about which systems meet the criteria.
“Experienced heads when you are in the middle of a merger or a migration are like gold dust.”
Billing Manager, Mobile Operator, Europe
6) The most difficult part of a transformation is parity, maintaining business as usual in the midst of massive disruption.
“You should never underestimate the amount of the effort involved. The advice is to work out the worst case in terms of effort – and then add 50%.”
Veteran IT Chief, North American Carrier
7) The thing that most operators wish they had spent more time doing – testing. Test, test, then test again.
“The aim should be to migrate as little of the old complexity as possible.”
IT Director, Triple Play Operator, North America
8) Communication: brand the project, communicate what you are doing with the business. Explain the disruption, sell the benefits and people will be on your side.
“The business probably does not understand the business potential of the new systems anyway.”
Billing Strategy Manager, Quad Play Operator, UK
9) Do not expect to get to one system. You will get to three or four and then investment and resources will find more urgent projects. One system is not a realistic goal. Several iterations of a system is a better one. It will have the same benefits – licensing, training, maintenance. Aim for different iterations along business lines – consumer, SME, corporate.
“Software will not fit your requirements completely – it never has and probably never will.”
Head of Billing and Payments, Wholesale Carrier, Europe
10) And finally – the most difficult thing?
“The most difficult thing in a billing conversion – based on 25 years experience of doing this – is getting people off old ideas and selling the idea to the business. Technology is the easy part. The funny thing is that IT ends up selling business agility to the business.”
VP of IT, North American Carrier