The weakest link

What does your OSS mean to your business (or your customer’s business if you’re a vendor / installer)? In the upper echelons of the business, OSS are often seen as being a significant financial burden but a necessary evil, a means to an end (or any other negative cliché you’d like to throw in).

But how do you start to change that perception? How do you turn your OSS from being seen as an expensive cost centre (ie consuming resources but not generating any income) to a valuable contributor to the success of your organisation?

In most cases, projects look at the bottom-up approach. The type of questions that are asked tend to be focused on defense:

  • How do we reduce our costs
  • How do we automate more steps
  • How do we get more efficient at performing task A
  • How do we manage technology X
  • How do we incorporate product Z into our services mix

What if we take a different view – the top-down approach?

What are the 5-10 most important metrics that your organisation’s leadership team talk about? Revenue, gross margin, ARPU (average revenue per user), growth rate, customer churn, cost of customer acquisition, etc. If you don’t have direct access to your organisation’s leadership team to ask them directly, you’ll invariably find their focal points in corporate communications such as annual reports.

I’m certain a quick brainstorming session will highlight many areas where your OSS can contribute towards improving those metrics. Perhaps too many. So which do you prioritise effort on?

Which of those metrics represents the weakest link in your organisation’s chain? Which one in the 5-10 is your organisation struggling with the most? Did any of your brainstormed ideas contribute towards improving that metric? I’m guessing it’s a yes!!

Can you test the theory using a small bet (ie minimal investment, preferably without requesting additional budget)? Maybe that’s in the form of:

  • Analysis of existing data to test your hypothesis
  • Tweaking the collected data or standard reports to show improvements
  • Trialling (and measuring / analysing) process variants to see which produces the best results
  • Integration of new data sources into existing products
  • Rapid prototyping
  • etc.

Can we use this mindset shift to be the source of solutions rather than one of the perceived problems?

PS. Vendors / Integrators can also take note here. As Roger quoted on an earlier post (a complete OSS re-write), customers often perceive the following of their vendors:

  • It takes too long to get changes made
  • It costs $xxx,xxx for “you guys” to get out of bed to make a change

Clearly vendors / integrators are seen as the problem rather than the solution within some (perhaps many) customers. Sounds like an early predictor of churn to me, so perhaps a top-down line of thinking could reduce that risk?!

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