keyboard_arrow_left How to Build an Affordable 24/7 Network Operations Center in Telecoms keyboard_arrow_right

by Ralph Demelker, Founder
october 17 2018, 5:00pm

For any telecoms organisation, the Network Operations Center (NOC) soon becomes the heart of the company. Ensuring that your customers are well looked after in case of issues, and taking care of investigative work on the network is vital to maintain excellent customer service.

As well as reacting to issues, having the resource to proactively monitor and enhance the network is essential. The strategic layer limits firefighting and empowers your team to build a sustainable business with loyal customers.

During early growth stages, as your clients become larger and you win bigger and better contracts, the support requirements too increase. Strict SLAs fast become a necessity and a well-run 24/7 NOC becomes crucial in the evolution of your organisation.

Growing a 24/7 NOC: The Challenges

An effective and sustainable NOC is reliant on both its people and its structure. Get these fundamentals right, and you create a strong foundation for future growth. However, careful consideration is required from the outset.

1. Hiring the right people

Without doubt, the lifeblood of a NOC is its team. It is the engineers and support staff who monitor and detect the issues that can compromise the communication portals, the flow of data, and their security.

As with any new role, it’s important to take time at the hiring stage to minimise staff turnover. As the NOC is inherently customer-facing, communication skills must be combined with core engineering qualifications to provide suitable service levels.

In a global organisation, or one with aspirations, you must too consider language skills. Do you need bi- or multi-lingual engineers?

2. Structuring the escalation path

A common strategy for early-stage telecom companies is to use 3rd line engineers to cover the support desk, on rotation through the night and weekends. Over time, this becomes an incredibly expensive way to manage the majority of your trouble tickets.

Beyond the cost implications, you also risk losing your most experienced and valuable engineers, as the work becomes tedious, demotivating and unsociable.

Whilst a short-term fix, this approach is not a sustainable solution for managing your 1st and 2nd line support in the long term. There will come a tipping point upon which you need to invest in these specific escalation layers.

Creating a well-designed escalation path with clear responsibilities will mean you can stay lean and effective as you grow.

3. Centralised or localised offices?

It is not essential to localise your support in order to build a 24/7 NOC. An affordable centralised location can manage support during all time zones. Equally, a follow-the-sun model can be a great option if managed correctly with effective communication platforms. It’s a case of choosing the right approach for your organisation.

Centralising just your 1st and 2nd support desk, for example, could be a good hybrid model to follow. This will resolve 90%+ of network tickets and allow the team to proactively monitor for faults and manage customer expectations from one office space.

Network Operations Center
Reducing the cost of a 24/7 NOC

Identifying the right time to invest in a scalable 24/7 NOC is always a tricky judgement call. Until issues start arising with the immediate support solution that’s in place, the business is unlikely to make a change with such a significant cost attached.

Building 24/7 coverage of your NOC means that operating expenses will rise and change management is required, whilst the quality of customer service must remain high throughout. However, there are tangible ways to significantly reduce the most expensive costs - people and office space.

1. People

Talent comes at a price and the salaries of experienced engineers are expensive. Even once you’ve designed your escalation path, you’ll still need 24/7 cover for on-demand troubleshooting at a minimum, requiring three to four engineers on rotation.

But being open-minded about the location of your NOC can save you up to a third on salaries, from the 1st line all the way up. Our base in Davao, The Philippines, means we secure excellent engineers at internationally competitive rates, without sacrificing quality.

2. Office Space

Your expanded team need housing. Desk space, screens and even video walls require a significant amount of your operating and rental expenses budget.

Again, whereabouts is a key consideration. Whether your building centralised or localised support, certain hubs will be far more affordable than others. When going far afield, be sure to consider local weather and geography. We selected Davao over Manilla as the home for our NOC as it is a typhoon-free city.

Beyond the location, considering a fully outsourced solution may be an even better option. That way you won’t have to manage rent and utilities in unfamiliar cities with unknown regulatory and tax matters. Plus, the economies of scale are a great competitive advantage.

Of course, not all outsourcing solutions are built the same. Finding a complimentary partner with the experience you need and at a good price is a tough order.

How we can help

At RPN, we offer bespoke support solutions as an extension of your business. We can help you build a resilient, secure, yet affordable solution while allowing your business to focus on what it does best - your business.

We keep costs low through our operational headquarters in the Philippines, and our service-level high through specialist talent resourcing and competitive employee-benefits. Read here for more information.

If you feel your organisation could benefit from our services, please get in touch.

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