Seamless end-to-end product ownership and delivery through outsourcing
- Telco original equipment manufacturers are under the pump to deliver new products and services for less, during inflationary periods.
- It can be immensely demanding for them to juggle it with continuing to increase turnover from their existing products.
- The solution, for the organizations, is to outsource the end-to-end product management of an existing product to a dependable vendor.
Soaring inflation is causing telcos to struggle with their finances. In the next two years, it is expected to take at least three to five percentage points off the EBITDA margins of most telcos. Unsurprisingly, telcos will pay attention to reducing external spending and capital expenditure. A domino effect means that telecom original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will not be far behind.
There will be pressure on them to launch products and services that provide customer satisfaction at a low cost. They will be required to focus on new products that can cater to future needs while staying relevant in the market. At the same time, they will need to concentrate on maximizing the revenue being generated from existing products which run the risk of losing importance in the market in the future.
Managing maintenance of existing products – while also dealing with the challenges of building new products – can be laborious for telecom OEMs.
Maintenance of an existing product requires a robust team of experts to sustain and manage it. However, managing this while simultaneously dealing with the challenges of building new products can be difficult for telecom OEMs. With the success of the product heavily dependent on the expertise of the team working on it, choosing to outsource it to a trusted external partner can be a good option – and also be more cost-efficient.
A case study
A leading OEM and telecom networks enabler found itself in this situation when it needed to sustain one of its products while, at the same time, develop new products in response to market demand. It is a media gateway product that enables voice and data communication between circuit-switched networks and packet-switched networks used by major telecom providers around the world. The client, which provides communications software, internet protocol (IP) and optical networking solutions to communications services providers and enterprises, was seeking support with the maintenance and testing of the product.
Partnering with a trusted vendor
The need prompted the client to consider Infosys as a partner, where it had a previous long-standing relationship for similar projects. It entrusted one of the related product releases to Infosys, which Infosys managed independently and delivered successfully without quality issues.
The need prompted the client to consider Infosys as a partner, where it had a previous long-standing relationship for similar projects.
Infosys now manages the full lifecycle for the client’s product. The engagement includes product development, sustenance and testing, requirement gathering, effort estimation, design, coding, build creation, feature integration, system test, documentation, and release handover.
In addition, Infosys also handles defects for the client, covering their assignment, analysis, recreation or replication, root cause identification, queries, installation issues, and documentation towards solving the defect.
A redefined software design strategy
The need to provide a stable product environment was of utmost importance, and resolving each issue quickly was imperative. The Infosys team laid equal emphasis on identifying the root causes of system failures to ensure sustainable and reliable communication services.
A team comprising Engineering SMEs from Infosys – with domain expertise in VoIP and related protocols – was set up to formulate a process that improved software quality across the board. The team started with defining and streamlining the steps in handling backlog defects as well as new feature implementation. It analyzed each defect and identified where those defects arose. The outcome of this analysis was a redefined software design strategy. Several quality gates were implemented including multiple code reviews and unit tests, and checklists were updated as per Infosys’s policies and best practices. This helped catch most of the issues before the release of software to the client. This approach came to be implemented for not just new features in the product, but also existing features incorporated earlier.
Infosys deployed its deep knowledge of the client’s business processes gathered during the years of association with it during previous projects to put in place frameworks that introduced high-quality standards for product management. Further, the team set up a streamlined and well-defined process for all activities involved, to provide cost advantages to the client.
Infosys tapped into its deep knowledge of the client’s business processes to put in place frameworks that introduced high-quality standards for product management.
This was achieved on the product line via:
- Thorough planning of major, minor, and sustaining releases (including bug fixes and verifications).
- Introduction of an AI platform which helps in initial analysis of bugs, requests for missing information, and performs automatic crash analysis, saving significant amount of development time and effort, improving productivity.
- Introduction of a natural language processing (NLP) driven search function to assist customer support groups to self-solve queries.
- Closely working with service management and managing Critical Account Program (CAP) calls – that involve interactions with the client’s senior management team across streams – during customer escalations/critical incidents.
- Certification testing for marquee customers to reduce recurrence of bugs.
These initiatives resulted in improved service quality for end customers, and saved time and effort for the client’s management team.
Continuous improvement over close to four years with framework modifications and development of proactive value-added features (such as enhancing the call memory framework to capture and fix possible leaks upfront during implementation, and re-designing call processing to solve related issues) has led to a 90% reduction in in-hand customer bugs, a 95% reduction in incoming bugs, and zero network outages reported over the past year and a half.
The continuous improvement process included:
- The integration of an automated tool for assignment and back-tracing of bugs in Jira (Atlassian’s bug tracking tool), reducing the bug resolution effort by approximately 20%.
- Development and deployment of a continuous integration and continuous delivery framework which removes manual intervention from the build environment and automatically tests the program, saving 25% of effort per build.
- Reduction of licensing costs by 80%.
- Reduction of feature execution timelines.
- Creation of a Wiki page for the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) teams to document details related to issues, reducing the time taken for resolution and the number of iterations between the engineering and TAC teams, and the end customers.
- Development of a framework to analyze the customer configuration dump and feed the information to an analytics platform, which updates the type of calls and enhances the regression suites.
- Automation of 90% of regression testing and 50% of performance testing.
Infosys helped the client achieve reduction of licensing costs by 80%, and the automation of 90% of regression testing.
Most importantly, trusting Infosys with the operations and management of their product 24x7 – which includes end-to-end engineering ownership – has helped the client’s management team focus on their core business. “Our partnership with the client is an excellent example of service delivery excellence, where the Infosys team worked on co-developing and future-proofing the product. This resulted in creating a product that has near-zero network outages and offers reliable communication services across its lifetime,” says Vikram Meghal, VP and global head of engineering services, Infosys.
“Our partnership with the client is an excellent example of service delivery excellence, where the Infosys team worked on co-developing and future-proofing the product,” says Vikram Meghal, VP and global head of engineering services, Infosys.
Outsourcing the end-to-end management of a product line to a vendor can be beneficial to telecom OEMs at many levels making it a recommended practice. However, the key to achieving success in this strategy is for them to identify and invest in a partner with established experience and proven success in running programs like theirs. This will not only ensure a quality delivery, but also the best experience possible to users of the product.