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Business transformation and enhanced customer care at SLT

The Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka ordered Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) to make available detailed bills to its subscribers by the end of 2000. We are in October 2003 and yet to see that order complied with.

This is only one of the issues facing SLT's customers and in response, SLT points to the legacy system it is saddled with from the past. However, it appears that SLT has woken to the fact that there is competition and has committed to a business transformation process, which is good news for customers.

The billing system of a telecommunication company plays a major role in its success or failure. SLT has decided to address its billing system issue as one of its prime concerns.

"Our existing billing system has been purchased in 1996 when the network was less than 200,000 and in between, we have grown by almost 400 per cent. This alone would have compelled any company to look for a new billing system.

Added to that is the increased competition in the market and the customer becoming more and more demanding. The last straw was the issuing of External Gateway Operator licences. It became a matter of survival for us to have an end-to-end customer care system," Shuhei Anan, Chief Executive Officer of SLT said. SLT officers with the support of NTT personnel seconded to SLT at that time, have issued a Request for Proposal (RFP).

The responses were then evaluated, with reference site visits to companies which use the systems quoted. At the end of that process the integrated systems proposed by Convergys of USA, which is a Fortune 500 company and Clarity International of Australia, emerged as the front runner and were granted permission to run a Proof of Concept (POC) at SLT using data supplied by SLT. "As world class, best in breed products, we were confident that we would win the tender.

The use of a POC was an innovative and robust means of selecting the appropriate vendors", says Sandeep Shirodkar, Convergys Regional Manager. The POC ran for 14 days, during which time SLT personnel have put the proposed system through its paces and found it to be the best on offer. The new integrated system procured by SLT from Convergys and Clarity was named 'Customer Care and Billing System' (CBIS).

The CBIS project presented a real challenge to SLT and vendor staff alike. Given the state of the data available and the legacy systems running at SLT, the main task was the collection of data to populate the new CBIS system. According to D. W. R. Wijeweera, SLT's CBIS Project Manager, the existing data had to be cleansed; including grouping customers and creating segmentation and also correcting the errors. A more difficult task was the collection of network inventory data.

According to Sandala Edirisinghe, Chief IT Officer SLT is going through an exciting period of business transformation. The board of SLT has sanctioned substantial investment in evolution of all Business Support and Operation Support systems for the benefit of its customers. The current CBIS project involves enhancement to customer care, billing, customer order and telecom inventory and asset management, service provisioning as well as invoicing and electronic bill presentation".

The new Geneva Billing System from Convergys will enable SLT to provide its customers with a converged bill with prior notice. This may be particularly useful to SLT business users who may want to have a single bill for all phone, data and Internet-based services.

For SLT residential customers, it will deliver shorter waiting times for services, exciting new loyalty schemes and access to multiple payment methods including prepaid and automatic credit and debit card payment options.

The new inventory management system from Clarity will help SLT better plan for network capacity, network roll-out and service allocation, making SLT service management and distribution faster and more efficient. According to Edirisinghe, the internal efficiency gains will be massive and the initial investment will have a very short payback period". The CBIS project will deliver SLT management with an enhanced and concise view of service availability and telecom inventory.

Staff was given access to senior business consulting resources from UK based consulting organisation, Telecomguruz as part of the implementation of CBIS.

According to CEO, Anan, SLT is all set to leverage CBIS to the maximum. From the management point of view also, it complements strategic decision making.

As SLT's recent acquisition of Mobitel and the rumor of its interest in Lanka Bell clearly indicates, SLT plans to be a complete service provider offering all solutions a customer may require. CBIS would be one of the most important milestones in that pursuit.

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