OSS Systems Offer Partitioned View into
By Khali Henderson
Operations support system vendors
are enabling carriers to give their resellers partitioned views into the order
provisioning process via the Web. The capabilities go beyond electronic order
entry to providing resellers with real-time network availability and monitoring
of the order fulfillment workflow process.
"In most cases, a reseller
would submit an order to a carrier in paper or Web form. Somebody would have to
take that and rekey that information in a two or three-step process that doesn’t
give the reseller any kind of visibility into what the process is or how it is
occurring," explains John Konzcal, vice president of product marketing for
Telution Inc. Telution is one OSS vendor that is combining Web-based tools and
workflow engines that allow carriers to give resellers a view into the
"That’s really what most
resellers require because if they really own their end customers, they need
visibility into that process," says Konzcal.
With Telution’s COMX Order
Management module, a carrier can offer a reseller the ability to see what
primary services and accompanying service features are available to a customer
before submitting the order, Konzcal explains. Once the order is placed and
passes all the checks, the reseller can see all the individual tasks that need
to occur to fulfill that order. "I might be ordering a local loop from the
incumbent local exchange. I would see that as a task. I might, after that step
is completed, be provisioning a voice-mail system. After that, I might be
provisioning [a long-distance] switch. The resellers that deal with our
customers will see those individual steps and what the status of that is,"
More importantly, he says that if an
error occurs in one of the steps, COMX’s workflow engine includes the reseller
in the process so that simple fixes [ones the reseller can make itself] don’t
hang it up.
Similarly, the workflow can allow
for basic orders from the sales staff to flow to the engineering department for
their input before the order is submitted to the carrier. "An order entry
isn’t just one event," Konzcal explains. "It might actually be
multiple stages that need to occur and it might need to touch different
organizations making different decisions on how to fulfill that order."
This approach — a kind of
partitioned provisioning system if you will — is being embraced more readily by
wholesalers looking to offload some of the labor-intensive functions of dealing
with distribution partners. Z-Tel Technologies Inc., for example, is one that
uses Telution’s system to provide service to its resellers, like MCI and now
Still many are reluctant to open
their systems to their resellers, but are beginning to use partitioned
functionalities with internal customers like regional sales arms, which may bode
well for extension of those capabilities to trusted partners.
Industrial Logic Corp. CEO Richard
Graham says, "It’s going to happen, but old carriers are reluctant. There
is not a strong enough motivation to do it. First they do it internally and it
expands within the company."
ILC’s network management system,
MaxView, allows carriers to offer resellers a role-based view into the network
through its provisioning software, MaxView Scenario. He says a satellite
customer is considering the solution for resellers of its transponder time.
The reseller would access MaxView
Scenario through a Web browser interface, select the kind of service needed —
for example, a T1 line — and the software would handle the forming of that link
to provision that service.
"The trick is that the carrier
must ultimately agree to give those permissions, that access, to the
reseller," says Angela Renals, communications manager for ILC. "One
comfort MaxView provides the carrier in this situation is that the reseller
never tampers with the actual network equipment, he just chooses the kind of
link he wants to set up, And the rest is done behind the scenes. It’s like a
child-proof lock on the network, so the reseller has only as much authority as
is necessary to provision the service he needs."
Being able to manage all the network
elements is critical to making this work, says Graham.
ILC’s product comes out of years
serving the satellite industry, and Graham says is uniquely protocol-independent
making it especially suited to managing networks, which are commonly filled with
various legacy and next-gen equipment as well as varied makes and models.
Similarly, wholesalers also have to
rethink they way they look at their business, taking the view of supply-chain
business like manufacturing. "The idea of getting the supply chain pieced
together is quite new for telecoms," says Robert Curran, director of
corporate communications for Cramer Systems Ltd., a supplier of inventory and
provisioning software for telecom companies. He says that as a first step
carriers must first understand what they have to sell — what is their
"The network is the inventory
and the inventory is the network," adds Steve Plain, vice president of
product management of Cramer Systems. "It is what they have to sell to the
reseller or the end user."
Cramer Systems’ Cramer4 enables the
carrier to offer the reseller an abstraction, or product catalog, mapped to the
inventory. Effectively this would be a service view as opposed to a raw network
view, although in some reseller relationships access to the network view may be
The carrier then is able to see the
complete picture while its resellers only see a partitioned view of the network
that their customers are using or have available to them.
Cramer4 interfaces with legacy
order-entry systems as well as activation and workforce automation systems. From
the point the order is captured, Cramer4 looks at the options for providing that
service and automates the provision because it knows the inventory, capacity and
design rules, Plain explains, adding that human intervention, if necessary, is
dictated by the business rules or exceptions.
Enabling Partitioned Provisioning
Cramer’s suite of modules integrate with legacy systems and commercial OSS
How it Works
Telution’s COMX Order Management
application offers one example of a Web-based order fulfillment process:
* Wizard-driven order-entry process
allows order placement by customer service representatives and sales agents in
the call center or customers via the Web. Role-specific order entry enables
different order entry forms to be presented based on the specific user role,
such as sales person, customer service order entry clerk or provisioning
Integrated online knowledge base
allows users to search for help scripts to aid in sales, order entry or
Graphical product catalog
presentment simplifies the identification and selection of appropriate
services and offers.
Complete order validation
throughout the preorder and order process eliminates errors prior to order
submission, including integration to external databases (e.g., service
address validation, service availability validation, and facilities
Advanced workflow engine for
initiating and automating provisioning plans includes: executing tasks,
managing task status and exception processes, managing parallel tasks and
task dependencies, and handling communication to supporting OSS and network
Order decomposition engine
handles the complex process of decomposing a bundled order into individual
parts, and managing all workflow tasks to bring the bundled order to life.
Work order scheduling, routing
and dispatch is enabled with COMX’s Workforce Management application. The
application, integrated with COMX Order Management, combines work order
routing determination, scheduling, distribution, dispatch, and monitoring
into a single management tool.
Integrated order message queue
management acts as the "middleman" in relaying a message from COMX
to its appropriate destination, ensuring proper routing and delivery of all
Automated state management
provides real-time status on orders and tasks to users.
management console allows provisioning personnel to access their work orders
via the Web, update their orders in real-time, and alert enterprisewide
users of all jeopardies and errors.
Multitype resource management
handles the automatic assignment of inventory to orders (e.g., phone
numbers, user names, IP addresses, schedule dates, equipment) such that
inventory is reduced according to the provider’s preferred method.
XML-enabled integration layer
enables seamless systems integration to legacy OSS, network inventory,
network activation, and billing system connections.
|Cramer Systems Ltd. www.cramer.com
Industrial Logic Corp. www.ilc.com
Sprint Corp. www.sprint.com
Telution Inc. www.telution.com
Z-Tel Technologies Inc. www.ztel.com