Product Launch Software Support and Rollout Strategy

Centric helps telecom company be first to market with groundbreaking product offering.

The Business Need

Our client, a wholesale provider of voice services, decided to launch a new product line focused on cloud-based PBX phone services implemented in a wholesale model for their clients. Their clients, value-added resellers (VARs), would manage the phone service for their end customers, and our client would host the environment and software.

The client was positioned to be the first in the market offering this type of service and had put together an aggressive market launch schedule as other competitors were also considering a similar offering. In addition, the software vendor was putting forth an all-out marketing blitz including marketing and financial support to kick-start the launch, and the VARs were pulling together sales teams to sell the new product and implementation teams to deploy it.

Our client knew that they were breaking new ground. The chosen software had never been implemented and deployed in a wholesale environment before. The client’s objectives were clear; act fast, but with rigor, control both their costs and those of their VARs, define a pricing model that was flexible and create an implementation toolset that could support implementation for phone service from 100 to 10,000+ users…and be ready to go in eight months!

Centric’s High-Impact Approach

Our client asked us to provide the following services:

  • Thoroughly analyze the out-of-the-box software capabilities and functionality.
  • Identify the gaps between the out-of-the box capabilities and what would be needed for a wholesale deployment.
  • Develop and execute a mitigation plan to fill the gaps in lieu of the software vendor enhancing the software.
  • Document the gap software requirements.
  • Work with the vendor to ensure the software enhancements met the requirements.

All projects have unexpected complexities, and this one did not disappoint. Unforeseen issues seemed everywhere. Although these complexities and issues are never fun, we take pride in our ability to be agile and adaptive and find a way to make the project successful no matter what curveballs are thrown our way.

Reacting and Adjusting the Game Plan

Below are some of the challenges we encountered and how we addressed them.

Unexpected Operational Cost Burden:

Once the software was implemented and tested against the client’s wholesale model, a number of significant software issues were identified which, short of some major software enhancements, would result in both initial and on-going operational burdens for our client. Recognizing the issue, the Centric team jumped to action and worked with the software vendor to identify the requirements that would eliminate the unexpected burden. In parallel, we worked with our client to refine their existing internal order management and engineering processes to reduce the resources needed to setup a VAR and their customers. Lastly, we developed an automated toolset and a set of procedures for loading and maintaining end-customer data that could be utilized by a customer service rep instead of an engineer. These stopgap measures didn’t totally resolve what the software enhancement would, but they did eliminate the need for additional resources, thus avoiding a huge jump in operational costs.

Inadequate Implementation Toolset:

Another significant hurdle involved how to load large amounts of customer data when new customers came on board. We recognized early on that the out-of-the-box mass data loading toolset would require significant manual data entry by engineers, had very little usable documentation and no standard implementation processes and procedures. A new solution was needed. We ended up designing and creating an enhanced toolset that could be used by non-engineers. We automated the data setup and entry-loading processes and defined a common set of processes and procedures (including user documentation and training) that could be replicated for all end-customer implementations.

Complex Pricing Model:

The pricing model that was normally used by the software vendor was overly complex, inflexible and would have required significant software enhancements to be usable in a wholesale setting. It was also based on having to manage thousands of software licenses sold, which was totally different than how the client wanted to sell the product. Working with the client through a series of facilitated sessions, we defined a more flexible and simplified pricing model that met the client direction for packaging and pricing their product. The pricing model we created did not require any enhancement to the vendor software or database and fit perfectly into the design and implementation of a new invoice.

Results

This engagement was fun and challenging not only because it was breaking new ground for our client, but because (as with all engagements) we encountered challenges along the way that allowed our team to be adaptive and creative. And even better, the client successfully launched their product months ahead of their competition and on schedule with their targeted release date.