Network migrations are never perfect. Changing telecommunications network providers can be time consuming, painful, and costly to any business if it is not done correctly, under the watchful eye of an experienced Telecom Project Manager. Don’t get me wrong, even with an experienced Telecom Project Manager, there are going to be inherent risks. It’s still telecom, and there are still carriers involved. A skilled Project Manager will always base their project plan on Pareto’s Principle of 80/20, and no successful Project Manager should ever promise a snag free project. Telecom projects have risks. They just do. It is all about how you manage to those risks that makes the overall difference in delivering your project as promised, on time and within budget.
The 80/20 Rule as it relates to a successful network migration means that in any set of project tasks (ordering, provisioning, turn-up, cut-over, equipment installation, etc.), 20 percent of the tasks (usually the first 10 percent and the last 10 percent) consume 80 percent of the time and resources while also contributing to 80% of the potential risks. It is essential, in order to optimize resources and reduce risks, that this 20 percent be the primary point of focus so we put together the top five (our standard 20%) network migration implementation risks that our Renodis Telecom Project Managers focus on to deliver successful projects to their end user clients.
The Top Five Network Migration Implementation Risks Telecom Project Managers Should Focus On – #1 Facility Issues
There are many facilities issues that can come up during a migration project. We decided to outline the two major ones; Wiring/Cabling and Building Access. Wiring/Cabling to and from the demarcation point (dmarc) is an intricate part of a successful turn up event. If the wiring/cabling configurations are unknown, or not properly documented, turn-up dates may need to be rescheduled if the technician arrives on site to do the circuit activation and the connection has not been extended. The same goes for building access. If the carrier or vendor technician arrive onsite, and does not have the required credentials or proof of insurance if it is required for access to the building facilities, project dates can be significantly delayed while proper permits or insurance certification documents are requested.
The Top Five Network Migration Implementation Risks Telecom Project Managers Should Focus On – #2 Carrier Order Verifications
Check, check, and re-check is a required mantra when it comes to carrier orders. Proactive monitoring of all aspects of the order process from initiation to completion is a critical component when it comes to keeping project timelines on track. Many times, no matter how diligent you are with your orders, information gets missed or keyed incorrectly. Not catching this up front will cause delays. Another thing that will cause delays during the carrier order process are unforeseen facility issues. These issues could range from lack of central office space to lack of copper/fiber network facilities. Timely identification of the potential issue and proper escalations with the correct departments will reduce your risk of project halting delays.
The Top Five Network Migration Implementation Risks Telecom Project Managers Should Focus On – #3 Equipment Support
Project delays due to equipment related issues are unfortunately pretty common. Out of the box failures, mismatched configuration parameters, or incorrect settings can all bring a network migration to a screeching halt. Pre-testing along with qualified, experienced turn-up support are the key to minimizing project risks as they relate to the equipment. The night of a cutover is not the time to find out that the equipment is not set up, or functioning correctly. Of course there is no guarantee, even with pre-testing, that there will not be any issues. This is why you have to plan for accessible, experienced support to be either on-site, or available via remote access to troubleshoot the issues.
The Top Five Network Migration Implementation Risks Telecom Project Managers Should Focus On – #4 Configuration Checks
This one is basic but extremely important. Verify the signaling and configurations being assigned to your circuits and related equipment if it is supplied by the carrier or a vendor. Have the IP’s assigned by the carrier been correctly built into the equipment by the customer network team? Are there any special configurations that were requested on the order to the carrier. Did the carrier follow through on implementing the requests? What QoS (Quality of Service) was requested? A simple check point verification of this small item will save a lot of time and service issues post turn up. Mismatched templates will provide poor service quality at the site, as well as across the network.
The Top Five Network Migration Implementation Risks Telecom Project Managers Should Focus On – #5 Turn Up Issues
All the items I mentioned in 1-4 lead up to item 5. At the end of the day, it is all about the successful turn up. A lot goes into planning a turn-up/network cutover. There is scheduling, pre-wire, pre-test, pre-configure, verify, validate, and coordinate, to name a few. Be sure that there is a reliable, and reachable contact at the site. If the person at the site is not the technical contact, be sure that the technical contact is engaged and available in addition to the site contact. Set up a conference bridge. This helps keep everyone on the same page during the actual cut over. It also allows people to drop in and out to engage additional resources as needed when things come up. Be sure that you have the bridge information pre-noted on your initial order, or at a minimum, added to your carrier reservation at the time of scheduling.
If at a minimum, this 20% is planned for, addressed and focused on from the start to finish, the success of the overall project will increase ten-fold. It is imperative to plan and prep, and prep and plan, but only if you are zeroing in on the right things.