Best practices for service delivery: Translating customer needs into network services

Robbie Harrell
21 Nov 2008

Translating customer needs into network services is part art and part science. Best practices have emerged around identifying customer needs by developing a checklist to help you define a customer's business requirements, then translate them into technical requirements and technology solutions. After that, you need a project plan designed to help you drive projects to completion. Finally, understanding the essential steps of a successful implementation process will keep projects on track and on budget. Download this Telecom Insights guide to improve your end-to-end network service delivery process.

In this series:

Checklist for defining customer requirements

Best practices for flexible project plans

Essentials for painless network service implementations

Service delivery best practices: Checklist for defining customer requirements by Robbie Harrell

Network services can be defined many ways. Some examples include deployment of VoIP and video over IP services or business critical applications like SAP, CRM, or Citrix, which depend on the network to function. The majority of organizations today rely heavily on the network and network service delivery capabilities to run their businesses. In most cases, there are usually technology modifications or deployments required to enable those network capabilities and services.

Business requirements drive technology initiatives. Therefore, understanding and capturing the customer's most important business requirements and translating those into technical requirements and technology solutions is a critical aspect of successful network service delivery.

Gathering requirements is an intensive process. In general there are three key areas of requirements that need to be addressed. The areas are:

  1. Business requirements
  2. Technology and technical requirements
  3. Integration requirements

Business requirements
Business requirements focus on understanding where the customer is going in terms of future expansion into new markets, deployment of new service capabilities, funding and executive vision for the organization. In most environments, it is a business decision that drives IT initiatives.

The IT department is responsible for network reach, support for mission critical application delivery and uptime and performance of the network. Sometimes the IT department communicates with the business units and vice versa, but at other times, IT is in reactive mode.

It is recommended to define and capture business requirements up to three years out to determine what network services will be needed to support the customer's business.

Technology and technical requirements
Technology and technical requirements are defined after business requirements and are, in fact, driven by the business requirements. Technology requirements include determinations of vendor alignment and standardization requirements. The technical requirements are details of the design of the solutions that will be deployed to support the business services. The business is enabled via applications delivered over the network, so there are key technical requirements that must be addressed, including:

  1. Architecture requirements: These provide input to decisions around major network technology decisions in key areas such as LAN and WAN, datacenter and operations. Examples include MPLS for WAN transport, data center consolidation, and centralized versus distributed IT operations.

Bandwidth and scalability requirements: These define where application services need to be delivered and how much bandwidth is required. This drives decisions around WAN reach and remote access as well as infrastructure sizing.

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