5 Steps to Cost-Efficient SLA Reporting for Mobile Backhaul
Welcome to May 2013 issue of Creanord EchoNEWS. EchoVault is the leading Carrier Ethernet SLA management and reporting platform, helping Service Providers focus on aligning the network with the SLA to enable differentiation and improve customer satisfaction. This article focuses on providing stunning SLA reporting for Mobile Backhaul in 5 simple steps. It discusses setting up measurements and thresholds and starting to report on performance against SLA targets - the promises you have made to your customer.
Are your customers requiring SLA reporting? Very few Enterprise or Wholesale customers will sign a contract without a clearly agreed service levels. How can you maximize your success by fulfilling this requirement? Great SLA reporting can really help you differentiate.
All too often service providers still do their SLA reporting either manually after each month or based on incomplete or even erroneous data. Moreover, inflexible or equipment-specific performance data make it hard to provide comparable reports for different services. Sometimes an eager sales team sells services promising delivery and reporting in new ways and operations needs to be able to adapt quickly or risk an unhappy customer or even penalties. No wonder customers may find SLA reports hard to understand and view them with skepticism. Turning this to your benefit and strenghening the customer relationship by providing informative and attractive SLA reporting is not rocket science.
Your customer is paying for their service and therefore perceives a value in it. Instead of seeing reporting as a necessary evil, you can use it to your benefit - after all it is a chance to interact with the customer, so it is a great way to highlight the value of the service. Even if a service does not have a strict SLA associated, showing information on service quality is worthwhile as there will be an expectation of service quality to fulfill. So if you do not have an SLA, pretend you do and report as if you would. This will help ensure you are using the customer perspective in evaluating service quality. Done well, reporting will increase the attractiveness of the service as reports are what the customer actually sees in addition to their experience when using the service. For instance, providing a nice real-time view to status against SLA means that the customer will be able to check whether a problem they are having is due to the service provider or not - as well as showing how well the service provider is living up to the promise. Do not underestimate the power of word of mouth of happy customers.
Show potential customers what a great service you have and improve on it by ‘packaging’ it with nice reports. An appealing turn-up report at delivery increases customer confidence with the service. Real-time views to service status against SLA goes even further and increases trust in the provider. It may also decrease cost thanks to fewer calls to customer services. Monthly reports with clearly shown performance against SLA targets as described in the contract complete the picture and can help you win business, especially in wholesale. Of course, not having to do that monthly exercise of reviewing performance data from different systems and comparing against maintenance activities saves time and effort.
5 Steps to great customer SLA reporting:
- Choose appropriate measurement schemes to optimize cost. Schemes range from probe-based loopback measurements with no extra hardware on site to smart SFPs and demarcation devices according to the requirements of the customer. EchoVault supports the whole range from low capex/opex to versatile demarcation equipment with powerful monitoring capabilities.
- Configure Performance Management, PM. Delay, Jitter and Loss measurements are what is needed for most SLA calculations. According to your measurement scheme, set up loopback or end-to-end tests. With a multi-vendor system, the measurements can be retrieved to a central repository to standardize SLA reporting. Note that sometimes equipment providers call PM data SLA data. It is not. See next step.
- Configure SLA. This is where we go beyond network equipment capabilities. Thresholds need to be set according to monthly SLA thresholds, not PM thresholds. The SLA thresholds are almost always based on monthly targets and must be calculated rather than measured. There is a huge disconnect between a monthly target of, say five nines (99.999% availability), and a five minute performance target. You may also require for instance 95th percentiles or standard deviations to be reported. The equipment cannot hold the data for a month nor provide the required calculations, so you will need an SLA capable system.
- Set up SLA Templates for your services. This allows you to automate configuration of new service measurements and SLA configurations. With templates functionality you can also ensure that you are ready to incorporate new services that the sales team dreams up. Versatile SLA profiles help the NOC team fulfill new services without unnecessary delays.
- Set up SLA reporting in real time internally and to customers. Information helps account teams, executives in addition to the NOC team to understand how well the services are performing - where there is room for improvement and maybe even where there may be a case for an upsell. With EchoVault you can provide stylish reporting with an out-of-the-box solution.
Join us at CommunicAsia
Join us at CommunicAsia 2013 in Singapore on June 18-21. We will be exhibiting our latest and greatest together with FibroLAN at booth 1E2-1. Drop us a line now to book a meeting or a live demo. There are exciting announcements coming up!