Are you spending too much time dealing with frustrated customers whose orders got tangled up in your order management process, leading to missed deadlines, hitches in managed service delivery, and more?
Depending on what part of the telecom industry you work in, this might be an angry cable customer whose installer did everything right, but everything on the bill is wrong. Or perhaps your team is missing milestone dates that put the Firm Order Commitment (FOC) date in jeopardy for a major enterprise-wide order.
An order is considered “lost” when it falls out of the automated process for an unknown or unexpected reason, especially one that someone doesn’t process manually. There are thousands of ways orders can go wrong with telecom order fulfillment as it moves through your order flow; we know because we’ve researched many of them. The only way out of what may seem chaotic is to create a highly visual, simple order tracing dashboard for your customer service, order management, operations, and IT teams. They can better understand exactly what’s happening, starting with the lost messages and data that drive order fallout.
The danger zones in your order management system
We don’t have to tell you how complex telecom order systems are. You have a clear picture of the multiple (often legacy) systems at the heart of your automated order fulfillment process, which can include ordering, billing, provisioning, and clearinghouse systems for public telecom utilities.
Complexity itself isn’t the core issue (though it doesn’t help). The real issue is that interconnected systems can act as a series of black boxes, making it difficult to determine when, where, and how order fallout occurs. The borders between systems are especially vulnerable points, where acknowledgment (ACK) and non-acknowledgment (NACK) message notifications are meant to confirm whether an order has moved forward or not. But NACKs alone may not deliver enough information to help you diagnose the root cause of lost orders.
When messages go missing, trouble follows
Let’s look at some common causes of telecom order fallout that service providers experience related to system connectivity and application errors.
Missing data. Let’s say an order goes into the system without a full address or zip code. Could be a simple data entry mistake. Or maybe it involves a building without an assigned address yet, or data that hasn’t come in from another source. Error messages might appear, but if they’re too vague or the notifications don’t get to the right people, the order’s in limbo.
Multiple versions of one order. Order management solutions that don’t handle supplements smoothly can create nightmares. There can only be one valid order moving forward at a time. Poor implementation of business rules can cause problems with how the supplements are processed which can cause delays, confusion, or lost orders.
Messages stuck in retry loops. Interconnected systems usually configure built-in retry capabilities to allow for system downtime and other issues, but some legacy systems lack this capability. Retry settings must be well thought out to avoid stressing the systems by limiting the number of retry attempts or setting a reasonable amount of time between retry attempts. If error messaging around retry attempts isn’t robust enough, it can be hard to know that a timeout caused the problem.
Varying response times across systems. Imagine that the downstream system is moving slowly for some reason, and when it finally responds, it sends the responses out of sequence. Systems might also be expecting version 2 but get version 3 – possibly thanks to bad data, system blips, or unique requirements in the order that are not accounted for. Orders can fall out under any of these scenarios.
Password troubles. Automated workflows linking multiple systems often require login information to pass between systems. When passwords expire without notice, order processing will inevitably get stuck.
5 strategies for better order management workflow
At Seygen, we’ve successfully worked with communications service providers for more than 20 years – all sizes, all sectors, all seeking ways to improve the lifecycle of the order management processes. Here are 5 key capabilities we build into our order management solutions that keep our clients’ telecom orders flowing with far fewer hangups.
- We build unique order identifiers into the messages that allow our systems to track order progress all the way through. Working with our clients, we help them think holistically about which identifiers make sense, based on data and reports they’d like to have later. Then we make sure that the chosen identifiers – for example, order numbers, customer numbers, or phone numbers – are stored so that orders can be traced from system to system.
- We make ACK and NACK messaging more robust to create a clear log of what’s happening with all orders. We put a layer on top of the ACK/NACK messages to provide business-specified data to trace or search for the order. This generates abundant detail to pinpoint where order fallout is occurring.
- We build in timeout and retry logic that allows retry attempts for a defined amount of time, then present a detailed error message to a human, giving them a sense of where the problem lies. Clear, specific error messages are part of all Seygen systems because we want to reduce guesswork and empower fast corrective action.
- Our software logic stores and holds messages when one system is down, with the capability to pick back up again where it left off without confusing the downstream system by sending everything at once. This can keep order processes running smoothly around scheduled system maintenance and unforeseen outages alike.
- Our robust user interface features a clear, easy-to-read dashboard showing orders moving through the workflow and alerts revealing order acceptance and failure, mediation failure, and delivery failure. From the dashboard, you can move to detailed activity logs that help you monitor throughput and troubleshoot more effectively. Even when there are no errors flagged, the activity logs – driven by unique common identifiers and customer-defined order milestones – reveal the flow of any order, making issue resolution faster and easier.
A holistic approach to telecom order management
At Seygen, we know the importance of thinking through each aspect of the interrelated systems in your order handling workflow. Our solutions reflect the experience and insight we’ve gained as valued partners in the telecom industry. We design for what goes wrong so things will go right for you and your customer experience.