Executive Summary / Abstract
Created in the year 2000 with the purpose of commercially developing the Central America region by rendering services of International Data Center, data and voice transmission, basic telephone and long distance, wholesale, and Internet, Telecarrier is a leading company in the telecommunications industry within the LATAM region.
It has a fiber optic network infrastructure with high capillarity levels, fully integrated with IP technology, capable of transmitting data, voice and video, assuring its customers a fast, reliable, redundant, and scalable service.
As a consequence of both the fast growth experienced by the industry and market consolidation, in November 2009 Telecarrier merged with the telecommunications group Medcom Holdings, INC, owners of Cable Onda, S.A.. This was an unprecedented merger in the market which made Telecarrier the company with the highest potential in the region.
It currently has thousands of domestic, multinational, corporate, and large customers among which is the National Government.
During the first half of 2008, the company identified the need to optimize core processes as part of an integral project that underpinned its market growth. Thus, commercial (pre and post sales) and backoffice (sales administration and finance) were earmarked as being the most significant processes in order to achieve competitive advantages.
At a technological level, proposals for customized development, and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) were analyzed as short–term solutions, or the adoption of a work philosophy based on process management, and the incorporation of BPM (Business Process Management) technology as a mid-term and long-term alternative; the latter having been chosen on account of its flexibility, scalability, and core-process traceability.
The implementation of the project took twelve months, and it involved the whole organization as well as the CEO’s full commitment, as it was a corporate project designed on five pillars on which the work was initially carried out:
- Alignment of the project with the business strategy.
- Core process identification.
- Allocation of resources needed the setting of governance bases.
- And project document analysis).
Management metrics after the implementation are relevant, taking as a reference the original situation described. Among the most remarkable ones are the optimization of those processes linked to commercial presentations, sales closing rate, administrative processing, and productivity at the Human Resources level.
Due to the characteristics of the market in which Telecarrier operates, the adoption of a process management philosophy and the incorporation of a BPM technological tool implied a cultural challenge. Therefore, key aspects were spotted which were essential for the success of the Project: identifying the current situation, assessing the corporate culture and company style, understanding roles and skills, and choosing the best executive sponsor.
“The first of these aspects -“identifying the current situation”- was really key and forced all of us taking part in the project to find out which were the technical needs and opportunities to acquire new technologies; assess their use in the industry in which we were involved, the degree of technological maturity, define technology selection criteria in order to evaluate tools available in the market, and prepare the organization for a cultural change”, explained Mr. Mariano Saibene, project leader.
“Prior to making a decision, we analyzed several options, and searched for success cases about similar problems in Panama. We ruled out acquiring a CRM because we considered that, information-wise, we were not mature enough to provide adequate input, and we explored, among other alternatives analyzed, an in-house development that contemplated specifically the problem to be solved”, added Mariano.
“This first analysis-stage took us 6 months and allowed us to realize, from an organization point of view, how rigid our IT structure was when considering the needs of the business. This entailed the search for a technological tool that could bridge this shortcoming; thus, with the support of Universidad del Istmo (http://www2.unis.edu.gt/), which provided an objective view, BPM was chosen”, concluded Mariano.
Qualitative results have shown a coherent alignment of the business dynamics in face of the technological requirements, and after over 12 months of use, final users appreciate a remarkable improvement in results, when compared to the previous situation: “the best feature of this project is its flexibility to adapt to change, its speed, and the simplicity with which business rules may be changed, providing superb response time both at the process and the implementation level” (applications), as its main final users mention.
As an organization, Telecarrier had information scattered in various places, few processes (mostly informal ones), and a lack of traceability of the company’s core-process –Sales. This was the outcome of an exponential growth, well over the original scheme of the business plan, which was chaotically administered, with tasks carried out manually and with high levels of inefficiency.
“When the project was started, we did not face any financial or context-related challenges. It was the time to find a solution to the problem. The task we had identified promised to be arduous, for the company did not have any documented and sustained processes. The few existing processes were completely informal”, explained Mr. Mariano Saibene.
The team acknowledged that getting both, process owners and final users, involved in whichever project would be faced was essential. To this end, several internal activities were carried out to enable the joint selection of the technology the company needed in line with the problems spotted.
“During the stage prior to the commencement of the project, we really felt eager to attain improvements, but we did not know where the starting point was, which resulted in several mistakes, typical when trying to identify a technological solution beyond our reality as an organization”, Mariano added.
This situation made Telecarrier aware of the need for a process map, for identifying improvement points, and for thinking which the technology that would adapt to the business requirements was. The requirements at an IT and business level, were clear: The organization called for a work philosophy that would allow the deployment of a continuous improvement process, sustained by a flexible and agile technology.
The process to assess suppliers of BPM technology was lead by an interdisciplinary team, which involved different levels in the organization, from the CEO to the sales staff, who planned to execute the process at an operational level. In order to achieve a better level of organization, bid specifications were prepared including –besides legal and administrative aspects- a number of technical requisites that would allow for consistent assessment. Among these, the following stood out: the requirement of a concept test (relatively simple with few activities), with the alternative of requiring integration tasks, the definition of indicators that would enable process performance measurement, delivery of a document with the written detail of the process, a short list of changes to evaluate the flexibility of BPM technology. And lastly, the requirement that the concept test should not stretch beyond three work days.
“These points provided a homogenous understanding of the different alternatives available in the marketplace, given that at the beginning of the Project we found technological alternatives that partially contained BPM functionalities”, explained Mariano.
The Key Innovations
At a business level, Telecarrier identified value loss in three areas: the first “gap” was found in how to convey the company’s strategy in business processes; then, in how to achieve process implementation through technology, and thirdly in the very structuring of processes which add value.
“At the senior management and department heads levels, we were convinced that if these gaps were not closed, an integrated concept would be hard to achieve. We knew that process management was not a simple concept, and that BPM technology would demand a significant effort from the organization. But there was something we were absolutely sure about: it created value for our customers and for our business”, explained Mariano.
With this in mind, Telecarrier drew a cultural line identifying BPM technology as a management discipline that considers processes as assets that contribute directly to corporate performance, boosting operational excellence and business agility. With this definition, the company was able to acknowledge BPM’s impact on the business, and how, by means of the incorporation of technology, it was possible to attain competitive advantages in a booming market.
The initial situation entailed a problem with a high impact on commercial performance: Telecarrier recognized that it was losing sales opportunities due to the lack of a process that would enable measuring the time of each of the processes which added value to the company.
Among those aspects linked to the diagnosis, the following stood out:
- Lack of documented processes.
- High percentage of commercial proposals to prospective and actual customers containing both qualitative and quantitative errors.
- Too many rework tasks.
- Oversized areas involved in audit tasks prior and after sending commercial proposals.
- Activities carried out 100 percent manually, highly dependent on physical material.
- Lack of traceability of documentation from intervening areas.
“At the beginning of the project, our organization did not have processes documented. This was a drawback that we were able to turn into opportunity as it proved more effective and efficient to start process design from scratch”, explained Mr. Mariano Saibene.
The consequences of this diagnosis were clearly reflected in:
- Lack of pipeline and forecast measurement.
- Sales cycles above the industry average.
- Lack of proposal analysis per business line.
- No measurement of commercial performance of commercial officers.
- Market share loss.
Those processes surveyed which were later automated involve 100+ people -who perform 20 activities simultaneously- belonging to Pre-sales, Sales, Sales Administration, and Finance.
As mentioned in point 1 (Executive Summary/Abstract), the implementation of the Project took 12 months, and involved the entire organization, including the full support of the CEO, as it was a corporate Project. Such leadership was key to achieving the alignment of all resources taking part in the project, at every stage: prior, during and after launching. During the initial stage, Telecarrier organized several courses aimed, in essence, at getting familiarized with concepts and general principles of the business process management philosophy, of both macro processes and sub processes.
“We were convinced that, besides technology, we needed to wisely go through aspects associated with change management. For this purpose, it was essential that the entire organization acquire the corresponding training”, explained Mariano.
During the project implementation, Telecarrier directed training resources at getting the organization to understand the fundamental role of change agents in business processes: people, structure, the organization’s culture, and the use of information technologies for the business. This enabled the full understanding and appreciation of the development of a business process architecture, thus ensuring the simultaneous fulfillment of both business and market needs.
At an IT level, training was oriented to understanding BPM within the context of prevailing topics and practices in technology, management, organization, and relationships, including: Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Supply Chain Management (SCM), Enterprise Content Management (ECM), and Business Intelligence (BI).
At a management level, adopting the process management philosophy, and incorporating BPM technology helped Telecarrier define, measure, and manage fulfillment of its strategic goals.
“Before the automation of our organization’s core process, it was hard for us to clearly define commercial goals because we were always running into “bottlenecks” which diverted our center of attention from the main focus of the business”, explained Mariano. “Nowadays, we have management metrics on top of which we can build a process of continuous improvement, our ratios measuring customer satisfaction, commercial closing, and tactical marketing investment have improved” states Mariano.
In business terms, the main contribution of process automation was the attainment of a competitive advantage. Today, Telecarrier is the company exhibiting the highest growth in the central region, and its strong commercial approach has allowed it to enter in new sectors of an industry more and more dynamic, where commercial agility is a key element.
Lastly, as mentioned in point 4.4, the main challenges arising from change management were successfully met on account of the CEO’s strong involvement, coupled with the active participation of both the team which lead the project and final users at every stage of the project, even from its inception, when various technological options were still under analysis.
“Currently, key executives in the organization possess the ability to design, simulate, and monitor processes automatically, without the involvement of technical users: BPM has flexibility and capacity to adapt to the business that we needed something that no other technology offered”, explains Mariano.
Additionally, from the organization’s point of view, Telecarrier was able to direct efforts in a planned manner, aligned with its strategic goals, acquiring a road of continuous improvement and efficiency, as it turned inefficient activities into reduced costs by means of the use of process-oriented technology.
Automating the sales process enabled Telecarrier to obtain the following results:
- 60 percent improvement in management metrics related to commercial presentations.
- 28 percent increase in commercial effectiveness (closing rate).
- 75 percent improvement in ratios measuring performance of administrative processing.
- 0 percent error in contract-making.
- 22 percent optimization at the Human Resources level as a result of an improvement in efficiency and productive task reallocation.
By adopting the process management methodology and incorporating BPM technology, Telecarrier S.A. was able to optimize the industry’s key process, which in turn paved the way to gaining competitive advantages, such as Go To Market and Time To Market, which support the company’s strategic planning.
The Technology and Service Providers
The project was developed by PECTRA Technology Inc.: a company specializing in Process Management, with over 12 years of experience in the market and 200 successful implementations in the USA, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Chile. We have an extensive network of partners in the entire Latin American region and we provide services to more than 50,000 end users who, in turn, serve 6,000,000+ users/customers.
For more information, please visit: www.pectra.com.
Telecarrier’s IT Department along with PECTRA Technology’s Marketing Department has planned the data searching and writing this important document. Different techniques were used to collect the information. Interviews to the people in charge of the solution’s design and implementation were carried out (in an average of two hours each); and also a performance evaluation was carried out in the entire company to respond appropriately to the requirements demanded by the Global Excellence in Workflow Awards for innovation and excellence in workflow implementations.
© Copyright: This case study was originally published in the Excellence in Practice series in the book entitled “Delivering BPM Excellence”
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