Project Management

Communications Options provides project management services for our clients ranging from relatively straight-forward implementations of new telecommunications systems, to large international telecommunications infrastructure projects. As you will see from the case studies and observations below, communications Options assiduously avoids risk in its management of projects.

With the cooperation of a Canadian provincial telephone company we set up and operated a facilities-based reseller. The provincial telephone company owned 20% of the reseller and our firm owned 80%. As the reseller was unregulated, it was able to offer lower rates than the provincial telephone company, and thus attract Call Center business to the province. We project managed the entire design and creation of the facilities, leasing two DS-3s and setting up our own border crossing to route traffic through the US, the first border crossing owned and operated by any company other than a Type 1 carrier. We also set up the customer service, billing, and collection functions.

The implementation of new corporate telecommunications systems benefits from our project management involvement because we understand the issues involved in moving to new systems.

Every time that changes are made to a telecommunications system there is a risk of failure. This risk can be minimised through careful management of the implementation. The system provider needs to provide a detailed implementation plan that maximises the degree to which the new system is implemented “parallel” to the old system, and minimises the elements that need to be “flash cut.” A parallel cut occurs when telephone systems are set up to run in parallel before cutover occurs from one system to another. Parallel cuts eliminate risk because they allow the new system to be pre-tested before cutover. In the case of parallel cuts there is no requirement to develop contingency plans for fall back to the old system, in the event that problems occur in the implementation of the new system. Parallel cuts should always be used in place of flash cuts if there is insufficient time for testing of the replacement system in advance of commissioning. They should also always be used in place of flash cuts if there is insufficient time to implement a fall back strategy.

A flash cut occurs when telephone systems are taken out of service before being replaced. Usually flash cuts are performed only for small systems, or for systems that are not critical. Flash cuts are risky because the new system cannot be pre-tested. Contingency plans are usually developed to allow fall back to the old system in the event that problems occur in the implementation of the new system. Flash cuts should never be attempted unless there is time for sufficient testing of the replacement system in advance of commissioning. They should also never be attempted if there is insufficient time to implement the fall back strategy.

Implementations should always be undertaken outside of normal working hours, and preferably on a weekend, or a long weekend, to maximise the length of time available in case of problems with the implementation.

The implementer of the system must give you a detailed test plan so that you can ensure that every single element of the system has been tested prior to system acceptance. All this testing has to be completed before the opening of business on the Monday morning after the cut.

When new systems are installed, the equipment supplier provides training for the users. It is important to ensure that the training is adequate. If the training is inadequate the users will not accept the system. They will be unaware of the enhanced capabilities of the system and will not be motivated to find out.

There are two methods of training users. The first method, Individual Training, ensures the best results. In this scenario, the implementer’s Service Adviser meets with users, in small groups, and gives a one hour hands-on demonstration of how the system works.

The second method, Leadership Training, or Train the Trainer, is a greatly inferior method of training. In this scenario, a Service Adviser teaches one session to a selected group of users called Leaders. After the training session, the Leaders are sent out to train all other users. Leadership Training is much cheaper for the implementer to provide.

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To learn more about what we can do for you, call us on +44 203 586 4266.