Don't change bill format amid BSS conversion

Alex Leslie/TM Forum
16 Sep 2010

A recent discussion with a senior IT Manager at a North American CSP revealed some interesting perspectives that will either bring tears to your eyes or make you laugh out loud.

He was in the middle of a major system conversion. The billing system had been built in-house many years previously, and the reluctance to change was huge. As the business expanded and developed multiple services, the flaws began to show. There was no single view of the customer, and there were embedded 'silos of thought,' as he put it, running through the organization.

The impetus for change came from the CEO who was seeing unhappy customers, increasing costs and the agility of the business being impaired.

Billing had inherited many taskmasters over the years scattered across the business. Marketing, finance, IT and customer operations all having a piece, and any change, or even the threat of change, resulted in all wanting a voice – and all wanting different things. After all, they all have different priorities, don't they?

A system conversion or transformation of any size is reliant on communication. It became a bartering exercise within the business. Its success or failure depended on regular communication with the Board, or lack of it, and the ability to leverage their authority.

The most difficult thing in any billing conversion is getting people to let go of old ideas and selling the new ideas to the business. The technology is the easier part.

After he broke through the reluctance to change, he was asked to take on every new conversion or upgrade that was going on in the company. He started doing the billing one, and then a new sales portal/self service installation, which included the dealer platform that needed to be attached to the existing system, and then migrated to a new IVR system as well. A several thousand seat call center overhaul followed. Then came the Enterprise Data Warehouse, a key part of the single customer view.

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