Eliminating Bad Data and Consolidating Tools with Enghouse Networks
When you're a wholesale and enterprise network service provider, bad data can have a domino effect on your business. If you lack visibility into any aspect of your operations, be it your front office or your network infrastructure, you can't move fast enough to best serve your clients. And with so many moving parts in today's telecommunications businesses, taming your data can be challenging.
Our company is a national fiber provider and an internally managed telecommunications infrastructure real estate investment trust (REIT). We provide wholesale and enterprise services to businesses and government entities, including dedicated internet access (DIA), ethernet, cloud connect, dark fiber, managed network services, IT services, voice, and e-rate. We also acquire and build wireless and fiber infrastructure that we then lease to other telecommunications industry players.
Our Billing Process Was a Mess
In 2018, we found ourselves facing billing issues. After a series of mergers and acquisitions, we had five or six separate invoicing systems in place. Billing was decentralized, nothing was automated, and these systems didn’t talk to one another or any of our other internal systems. To sort out this mess, we sat down with Saras Partners, a boutique consultancy that advises companies in the technology, media, and telecom sector.
Saras had worked with in the past and recommended it as a way to consolidate and standardize our billing platform across our business units. CustomCall is an integrated order entry and management platform for telecommunications providers. Its workflow, billing, and provisioning capabilities reduce time to revenue and allow enterprise and wholesale service providers to react quickly to new business opportunities and our customers' needs.
Enghouse Networks Brought More to the Table
Saras invited Enghouse Networks to our offices to pitch CustomCall. When we sat down with their team, Enghouse Networks brought a lot more to the table than we'd asked, including their OSS and BSS process engineering and re-engineering solutions. We were already looking for a new inventory management system as we were using a combination of Oracle and Salesforce with only 70% data accuracy. Enghouse Networks’ OSS and BSS solutions promised 99.5% accuracy, which was where a multi-billion company like ours needs to be to ensure proper workflows and inventory management.
We liked what we saw and set up a proof of concept. Enghouse Networks engineers came to our headquarters and spent a week or two walking us through each of their systems, starting with CustomCall, and working through inventory and workflow OSS/BSS management solutions as well as , their ESRI-GIS network design and management solution.
Aside from the solutions themselves, one of our biggest concerns was longevity. We wanted a long-term partner who would still be with us a decade down the line. In the tech space, smaller, private companies are often acquired by bigger ones, and support dries up. Enghouse Networks is a publicly owned and traded company with an integrated portfolio and a proven track record of backing their products and customers for the long haul. Their values and approach to business were very smartly aligned with ours.
Following these initial informational sessions, Enghouse Networks spent six months on POCs, demoing, piloting, and refining their solution as they got a better sense of our business. In 2019, when we started to roll out CustomCall, OSS/BSS, and NetDesigner. We started to see across-the-board improvements.
Automated Billing Changed Everything
Enghouse Networks automated our billing system and created a single workflow that allowed us to add, delete, and change customer accounts. They consolidated our inventory systems, allowing us to accurately track stock levels and invoice accordingly. All of this now happens on our backend and is transparent to our CSRs and sales teams, who can log into Salesforce and see the exact data they need to work with customers.
The result is a streamlined, universal billing process that reduces errors and allows our people to better inform our customers. When selling telecommunications services, you have to follow a certain sequence. If a customer asks for voice service, you have to sell and deploy fiber first. If they want local number portability, you need to have the infrastructure in place. Everyone can log into Salesforce and see the billing and inventory information they need, whether they're CSRs processing an order or senior management, looking at the bigger picture.
Enghouse Networks’ automated billing and invoice creation mean our customers’ bills are always correct. We have better historical and business intelligence, and manual errors no longer creep in. Our invoices are accurate and go out on time, which has greatly reduced customer disputes. Our billing system also resides on the cloud, so there are no servers to maintain. This results in optimized workflows and a better customer experience, both of which are good for our cash flow.
Streamlined Network Design and Management
Enghouse Networks also centralized and streamlined our network design and management tools. We previously used a combination of OSPInsight, 3-GIS, and spreadsheets to plan and maintain our network. Support was substandard, and we couldn't integrate our network mapping tools with our workflow, inventory, and inside plant management tools.
By moving to Enghouse Networks’ NetDesigner, we can better manage our resources and improve our customer service. We can engineer our networks and gather real-time performance and business intelligence data. In 2020, Enghouse upgraded our NetDesigner web portal with powerful new dashboards that offer enhanced business intelligence tools to our executives and better GIS data for our field workers.
These upgrades were part of an ongoing project that will also see us roll out , an outside plant inventory management and network planning tool. Aktavara will help us see who and what is connected to our fiber. If a network segment fails, we can drill down to a specific device and figure out the root cause of the issue. We can then determine the extent of the outage, implement corrective actions, and tell our customers exactly how long it will take to bring them back online.
Good Data Allows Our Business to Shine
Thanks to Enghouse Networks, we have enhanced insight and visibility into our operations and assets. We can provision our networks faster and offer better products and services to our customers. We can turn around issues more quickly, provide accurate invoices, and plan for what's coming next.
Bad data can bring a telecommunications company to its knees, but good data can set it apart from its competitors. Using Enghouse Networks’ robust invoicing, inventory, workflow, and network management tools, our business is free to shine.