Making Avaya Easier To Do Business With

This past summer, I started a new chapter in my career as the product management lead for Avaya’s Support Advantage maintenance offer. For the first time, I’ve been “up front” in the business, instead of being on the “back end” of support delivery.

As I learned more about our quote-to-order-to-renewal processes, I began to understand why many Avaya customers and partners love our products, but find us hard to do business with.

On behalf of Avaya, let me say: We hear you. We get it. We can be hard to do business with.

I want you to know that I’m not alone in this; there are many of us, all the way up to the CEO, that are committed to improve ease of doing business with Avaya. We want to be open about our problems and let you know how we are solving them.

Earlier this month, a number of us met and built our vision of how doing business with Avaya maintenance should look like. We made sure all our known problem statements were addressed in this future vision and then began understanding what we have to do to get from here to there.

At this point, we are too early in our planning processes to share that information publicly, but I wanted to be as transparent as I can that we are actively working on this as one of our highest priorities.

What I can share with you today are some improvements we have already implemented to make quoting and ordering maintenance run smoother. I thought a good way to explain these would be to use the same problem statement and resolution pairs that we used in building our vision.

Polling Products for Maintenance Quotes

Problem: For much of our maintenance renewal quoting, we rely on successful polling of customer equipment to produce accurate pricing for our renewal quotes. Polling depends on a successful connection to the device. When this connection fails, the quoter needs to open a ticket with Avaya to investigate and resolve the problem. The large backlog of these tickets was causing an extreme delay in renewal quote delivery.

Resolution: Resulting from a lean event last spring, a measurement system and cadence was put in place to get a better grip on results in this area. Subsequently, we’ve implemented better self-service tools, improved technical polling logic, expanded the time frame for acceptable polls, and improved training for user reporting and issue resolution. The end result is a backlog that has been reduced by more than 75% since May 2013. Going forward, we are looking on making improvements to reduce the dependency on these polls, further improving the process for simplicity and dependability.

Entitlement Feed Issues

Problem: Previous to January 2014, Avaya did not proactively monitor the feed from our licensing system to our customer install base records. As a result, we were averaging ~50 customer identified discrepancies every month. Each of these issues would typically end in an escalation.

Resolution: Working with Avaya’s IT department, we were able to not only fix some known issues with the feeds, but also put in place monitoring so that any failures would be identified and resolved with little to no impact to our customers. We are now seeing zero customer found issues every month.

Letter of Agency (LOA) and Delegated Administration Permissions

Problem: LOA (Letter of Agency) and Delegated Administration requests to grant Business Partners permissions for Quoting, Registration, Delegated Administration, and Right to Terminate Orders, required a complex, manual ~8+ day process.

Resolution: Implemented the Customer Authorization Tool (CAT) to submit and track LOA and Delegated Administration requests, via an automated digital signature approval workflow that updates Avaya systems in real-time to add and expire permissions for access to: Quoting Tools and ACSBI, Registration Tools, License Management, and Web Ticketing.

IP Office Support Service (IPOSS) Maintenance Contract

Problem: Lengthy, manual process with duration time of 5 or more days to generate a maintenance contract.

Resolution: Introduced automated, Web-based Token process and functionality to allow users to create an installation location and/or gain temporary access to an existing location (Account Creation), perform IP Office equipment registration at the moment of product installation (via stand registration), plus activate the IPOSS service contract (Token Redemption) using the Global Registration Tool. This automated process dramatically reduces the time it takes to establish and execute a maintenance contract for customers’ IP Office equipment from days to minutes.

Global Registration Tool (GRT) R 3.0

Problem: A cumbersome registration process spread across multiple systems, teams, and manual procedures resulting in a lack of compliance endangering the integrity of customer records. This lack of integrity is a constant inhibitor to records accuracy, quote speed, serviceability, & connectivity, and thus Avaya’s overall ease of doing business.

Resolution: We released a game-changing version of our registration tool and process this past fall with the release of GRT 3.0. Not only did this release consolidate all registration systems and processes into one tool (from 3 to 1) but it also essentially cut the cycle time in half by automating technical records building and equipment removal.

In tune with what our product support team has done at support.avaya.com, we’ve also been focusing on exposing our users to all the knowledge we have internally through self-service. We have been actively publishing new content using the Avaya Mentor format to help people understand GRT, CAT, and our IPOSS Gift Card concepts. The team has also exposed some of our tooling to the users to allow them the ability to run their own product polls for maintenance quoting.

A special thank you to the leadership of Darleen Tibbs, Tom Powers, Uwe Ehlert, Chris Wey, and Keith Clemente, who, along with the support of their teams, are driving fundamental change in our tools and process to make Avaya easier to do business with. We also want to thank our partners and customers who take the time to work through these issues with us and provide feedback on approaches.

So, what’s next? Well, we’ve got a lot of irons in the fire at the moment. The largest project in this space is merging our heritage-Nortel offers and process with the rest of our business. This will mean less maintenance offers to understand, fewer tools our partners and distributors need to learn and use, and overall simplification. There are many others as well that will build upon one another to bring dramatic change to this part of our business. As these projects evolve from vision to committed projects, I will share more about them here.

In the meantime, if you have pain points in how you do business with Avaya, please reach out to your account team to make sure that we are aware of them and can solve them in time. You can, of course, also reach out to me via email or Twitter and let me know. I can’t promise I’ll be able to fix your issue in any given timeframe, but I will promise to make sure you are heard and that we will add your problem statement to our list for solving.