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Transformation: "A marked change in form, nature, or appearance" (Oxford Dictionaries)

Doesn't the term "transformation" sound great? Sure it does. But what does this term mean for a company which wants to undergo BSS/OSS transformation? In order to keep up with the competition, ever-changing customer needs and digital disruption, companies must continuously consider new ways of easing, evolving and adapting their business processes to new technological trends. So, why not transform all businesses radically?

Easier said than done - according to a leading consulting company, 70 percent of all corporate transformation programs fail. The replacement of the legacy system is a difficult undertaking when ongoing business activities must not be interrupted - it is almost impossible without a temporary business freeze. As you cannot replace the engine of a plane when it is flying, you cannot simply change the legacy system of a business while business is going on.

The main reasons for transformation failures are the lack of business participation, focus and commitment, as well as the lack of proper project management and management guidance. It is also difficult to find the right partners that take E2E responsibility for both transforming B/OSS functions and processes.

How to overcome these stumbling blocks and successfully undergo business transformation?

1. Plan your Project Precisely
Define a very clear scope of the project and make sure all stakeholders sign on it.Determine precise targets and strategy. See the big picture as well as the details that might have an impact on the project's success. Identify the status quo of the legacy system and suitability of the hardware sizing. Identify trends, environmental changes and possible data silos. Emphasize a common vision to move in the right direction - unclear goals might result into lost focus, delayed implementation, and costly project durations.

2.Determine the Migration and Roll-out Strategy
Take technical as well as business drivers into consideration. If the business aspect of a transformation is not valued enough, it will cause complications in the future. There are three options for the rollout:

a. The Big Bang.
All customer and function data is moved to the new system. It requires a long preparation time including trainings and informing customers. This approach has a high success rate because it shortens the project time and there is no need to run both the new and old legacy system in parallel.

b. Fully migrated functions, partial customer integration.
Two systems are maintained in parallel and customer information is moved step by step into the new system. The handling of this approach is very difficult due to possible disruptions - but it secures a smooth transition and minimizes side effects.

c. Fully migrated customers, partial function integration.
Similar to the previous approach. The functions are moved step by step into the new system. This approach has a tendency to be a never-ending project due to possible disruptions - the time for migration completion should be minimized.

3. Involve Executive Sponsorship & Cross-functional Teams
Transformation does not only involve IT - all departments must be integrated and form a cross-functional team that is supported by a highly capable leader.

4. Know your Team
Who is capable of what? Identify the weaknesses and strengths of the team members and use it as an advantage. Do not forget to include employees who know the departmental processes and system usage.

5.Find the Right Players
Since next generation business models may require multiple shareholders (CSPs, Solution Partners, external suppliers), it is crucial to coordinate this partner value chain appropriately. With the right players, focus on building flexible B/OSS systems that include unique abilities to open networks and systems to business partners in order to run real-time operations and manage huge quantities of data, applications, devices, and interactions.

6.Educate your Project Staff
It is critical that your team knows the industry standards and frameworks - adopting them is useful for the entire project lifecycle since it reduces the time spent in design, development and integration phases. Especially if multiple domains are being transformed, this facilitates the efficient and right implementation process.

Implement a communication plan to avoid mistakes, misunderstandings, double work, demotivated employees, and longer implementation times. Communicate to inform and update all team members about any developments in the project and keep the communications synchronized - avoid emails.

8.Be Agile to Change
Even if the project is planned carefully, there might be unexpected changes in the economic/technological environment - the key to success is to act fast and adapt the project accordingly.

9.Test! Test! Test!
Ensure operational readiness and do functional tests because incomplete software and the lack of interoperability can be fatal. Performing iterative functional tests, E2E tests and load tests are vital to the transformation success.

So, be brave and start transforming your business, because even if "the world hates change, it is the only thing that has brought progress." (Charles Kettering).

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