Maintaining Quality in Outsourcing Telco Services

Friday, September 30, 2011

Bozidar Spirovski

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More and more IT services are being outsourced. And as telco services are now easily integrated and transported over IP protocols, the outsourcing is being well established with telco.

But the issue with telco services is that quality in telco is very difficult to properly define. This is because there are parameters that are difficult to track – sound quality, response of system to tone-dial menu selection of an IVR, unexpected intermittent interruptions of voice communication, temporarily unavailable service.

And when part of the telco service is outsourced, it becomes even more difficult to manage the quality of such services.

Here are some elements that will affect the quality of outsourced telco services:

  • Oversubscription to outsourcing service – the service may be of a variable quality, with off and on periods when service is poor and then it’s great. This is usually connected to oversubscription of the outsourcing service, and when their services are overloaded, the customer facing service is of poor quality.
  • Availability of the outsourcing servers – simple and straightforward, power outages, server outages, cooling outages all create failures that interrupt service. Even if there are secondary servers, the switchover will fail all active connections
  • Connectivity to outsourcing service - most outsourcing services are far and away, most often in Asia. So internet links will be the primary connectivity media to such outsourcing services. But the internet as a medium has a lot of possible issues and failures of connectivity paths are not that rare.
When the outsourcing service is part of your call management, things get very interesting. Services that are part of the call management process that are easily outsourced are ringback tone, voice mail, autoanswer etc.

How to solve this issue of quality when outsourcing? There is no magic bullet, but here are some experiences and pointers:

  • Of course, you will create the standard contract with availability, packet loss and jitter criteria. (see related posts)
  • You can also include call disconnects or failure to connect.
  • It would be very good to try to connect this to customer complaint number, but the outsourcing service will be very reluctant to accept a quality of service condition is connected to a very subjective criteria that cannot be measured and confirmed by both parties independently.
  • Create a criteria of complaint to outsourcing service - for example, if the telco customer detects issues that are so large that they need to send a complaint to their outsourcing service more then 4 times every quarter, that would be a basis for a contract review. This clause is very wise to include especially in the first year of use of the outsourcing service, when you are still learning their weak points

Talkback and comments are most welcome...

Cross-posted from ShortInfosec

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