17 May 2016

Order Management for Digital Services

Today’s environment for communications service providers has changed forever.  Consumers and businesses expect the order to activation (O2A) process for CSPs to mirror those of the likes of Amazon and Apple – customers have no patience for failure – none whatsoever.  So CSPs are under pressure to deliver complex, multi-faceted, and rapidly changing products shackled within the confines of ill-equipped legacy platforms.

Innovations in digital eco-systems through the Internet of Things, business data services, and NFV/SDN infrastructures are being layered on top of traditional services and networks. Mergers and acquisitions are adding even more complexity to the IT landscape.

At the heart of this complex environment lies the CSPs order management system. The system must be equipped to handle orders from any channel, for any type of product – single or bundled – for delivery across a hybrid of networks, devices and partner eco-systems.

How can service providers overcome the challenges of an ever-changing digital landscape to provide the zero-touch, zero-fallout experience their customers expect? The answer: order management purpose-built to quickly launch and deliver new digital products, consistently and with order fallout rates of less than 0.1%.

Legacy Order Management will Fail to Survive in the Digital Age

Without a centralized view of what is being sold, who it is being sold to and what is technically feasible to sell, communications service providers can expect weeks, if not months of delays for delivering new products. In order to consistently launch new digital products in this complex environment, it is crucial that order management systems be driven by a centralized product, service and resource catalog.

Most order management software vendors claim today that they are catalog-driven. However, for many vendors this simply means loading data from disparate repositories (data silos) into custom tables held within the order management system. The data quickly ages as new product offerings are created and handed off from one team to another for enrichment of various aspects of the model until they are ready for consumption by the order management team.  This “waterfall” approach to defining the specifications that drive order management is costly, time-consuming, fragile and error-prone.  Without collaboration tools, it can take weeks or even months for individual teams to first define, then debug their respective aspects of the model and for the order management team to re-sync the data.

An alternative, though certainly not superior, approach is to perform a synchronous pull of the data needed for fulfillment from the various data silos into custom tables held within the order management system.  To be effective, this approach requires data to be pre-synced across repositories prior to import, which is only possible with sophisticated debugging and collaboration tools for the various model stakeholders.  In the absence of these tools, fulfilment modellers end up coordinating the debugging and data re-syncing processes across the various teams.

With both of these traditional architectures, stakeholders are forced to work in an environment without an end-to-end view of the data model and without the tools needed for collaborative, real-time enrichment of the model as offerings evolve. The resulting “information disconnect” means that launching new products is a long, labor-intensive, fragile and error prone process.

ORDER MANAGEMENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE

Next generation order management systems, worthy of the pressures facing a digital service provider, have been architected from the ground up to be enterprise catalog-driven.  They place an emphasis on collaborative tools that allow product managers, fulfilment designers and others to work collectively on the master model and fulfilment strategies.

The key characteristics of a truly next generation order management solution are:

Enterprise Catalog-Driven by Design

  • Referring dynamically to an external, comprehensive catalog to ensure that the business rules for products, services and resources (whether commercial or technical) are accurately utilized during fulfilment
  • Viewing the end-to-end product, service and resource model along with associated fulfilment configurations from a single console
  • Collaborating between Product Managers and Fulfilment Designers within a cohesive specification-to-workflow environment

Design-time Validation of Configurations

  • Validating the end-to-end fulfilment configuration prior to deployment to runtime provides fulfilment designers with the confidence to know what they are modelling will work.
  • Generating order instance scenarios at design-time in order to see what the fulfilment model would look like at runtime

Full End-to-End Visualization

  • End-to-end tracking of orders through the system from the moment they are received through to assessing validity and orchestrating delivery
  • Accessing the orchestration flows graphically at both business and system interaction (technical) levels
  • Providing design-time visualization of proposed orchestration plans for order instances

Purpose Built for Order Orchestration

  • Providing full product life cycle modelling, validation, decomposition and reflection services as well as Master Data Management (MDM) of the full PSR model
  • Being highly scalable & performant supporting hundreds of thousands to millions of complex orders per day, including real time scalability to handle increased volumes

Industry Standards Compliance

  • Complying with TM Forum standards, including Business Process, Information and Application Frameworks
  • Using Business Process Modelling & Notation (BPMNv2) in all workflow modelling for both business and technical workflows
  • Complying with TM Forum OSS/J JSR264 Order API specification

This architecture results in a truly agile environment capable of rapidly responding to the needs of the business and allows providers to orchestrate services of any type, from any channel, across any system stack and any network.

With true enterprise catalog-driven order management, the old, unfulfilled promises of time-to-market for new offerings, precision in fulfilment and customer satisfaction can be finally realized, delivering against the new realities of the digital world in which customers expect compelling new products to be provided at the press of a button or the flick of a switch.

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