Carrier Management Service Reviews
One thing I found is that Telecom Providers love service reviews. The Account team gets a clear picture of their performance and can develop plans to improve. As your advocate, they can work through their company's internal organizations and push for improvement, also allows their senior management to what is working and what does not.
Many years ago, when I was on the front line in deploying our network backbone. I was extremely critical of our providers. They sold a service, and in my opinion, they were not delivering to expectations. I was chatting with my CTO, and I mentioned that I was under the impression the head of sales of our primary provider was not too fond of me. To my surprise, he said that he appreciated me; because of my demanding nature, I made his company better and paid dividends to other customers.
If you are in a sourcing position, you should spend the time to have reviews and engage all internal parties for their input. Reviews will help in the selection process; sometimes, it is not always about price. It takes time to pull away from your day to day and look at the whole and give an accurate assessment. A bi-annual review works well, provides time to correct identified areas, and also enhances the relationships with the communication between you and your partners.
There is much subjectivity in this review process, but try to make it objective. Comparing providers against one another can be a start, grading them on a curve. You may find all of them require improvement in a specific area (Billing is a common sore point). A point system or grade system is something all parties can understand.
Areas to Evaluate:
1. Product offering. Are they wholesale, enterprise focus, do they meet your companies needs. Maybe they meet requirements in some areas but not all.
2. RFI/RFP response, communication, compliance, and intervals. Communication is critical, let your provider know far in advance that you are putting an RFI/RFP together and what you expect from the providers. The notice allows them time to secure their resources to provide the best response possible
3. Service Implementation. Do they meet the FOC? As part of the awarding service, there is the desired date. Providers are selected based upon their ability to meet this date. Planning is required, revenue and cost projects adjustments are for both parties based upon these estimates. Meeting the targets is essential.
4. Installation. Does the service work upon delivery? Unfortunately, more often than not, the service is delivered and passed to the customer, and it doesn't work. I have my team spending days and sometimes week to get the circuit operational.
5. Performance. Is service working as promised once installed? Are they exceeding the SLA's? Make sure you set limits on planned maintenance in your MSA's. I have seen somewhere the carrier has an 8-hour window every day to perform maintenance with little or no notification. Eight hours a month is sufficient if they have a well designed and robust network.
6. Billing. As mentioned before, this never seems to go smoothly. Look over the invoices carefully. Some providers like to sneak in "Fees" that are unwarranted. In my opinion, all costs associated with delivering the product are in the price of the service order. Credits for SLA violations are also a problem; a customer should not have to fight for what is rightfully yours. Check out my blog on Force Majure, the provider's accounts receivable department like to use that clause all too often.
You can always modify your list and add to it or take away. Evaluations should be a work in progress, ever-evolving. Remember to recognize the good; sometimes, a carrier comes up with something that is so far out of the box and beneficial! A top carrier sent automatic credits based upon outages; we did not have to request them. I would always ask, I am glad somebody listened.
We welcome comments, and at 3 Eagles IT Solutions, we can set up evaluations and ensure your company is getting the service you ordered! Schedule a call now.