Attaining a consolidated, accurate inventory is difficult for many communications providers. The challenges include: data housed in multiple systems (e.g., billing, CRM, ordering, provisioning) and manual update processes – both of which lead to “dirty” data. However, achieving cleaner inventory data opens many opportunities to carriers – including enhanced cost auditing, reducing revenue leakage and network optimization. And, as a survey earlier this year from Stratecast Partners reveals, most carriers view inventory management as key to managing operational and capital expenditures, launching new services, and ensuring data integrity.
Because managing inventory crosses many functional lines, any inventory management improvement project should start out with a clear set of goals, leadership buy-in, and identification of stakeholder organizations (which could include IT, provisioning, product management, network engineering, billing, revenue assurance – and others). Then, carriers should look to define data sources and interfaces between them. Data analysis is a logical next step to understand the quality of data available from various sources and how this data matches up against project goals. Following that, a common information repository should be established to consolidate and standardize data into a single, logical inventory. Carriers should also be sure to establish ongoing data reconciliation processes are in place to update original data sources and identify opportunities for increased automation.