April 29, 2020 by Bill Mueller

Eliminating the Noise (and Chaos) in Network Deployments


Before stay-at-home orders were issued, in early March, I had the honor of participating at the annual Big Sky Tech Fest in a panel with Mid-Rivers Communications, Southern Montana Telephone, and Triangle Communications on ways to accelerate network deployment and create maintenance efficiencies. Ray Williamson with 3 Rivers Communications moderated the session and led the panel in a discussion of concerns about unwanted noise in network deployments, especially those due to challenges with standardization, communication, automation, and quality validation.

Deployment projects, especially those that require several internal and external organizations and contractor teams to complete, operate much like an orchestra. Within an orchestra, communication between the performers and the conductor is crucial to avoiding musical chaos. The same goes for successful deployment projects. The need for clear standards and best practices, automation and communication, and finally validation is important to avoiding project chaos.

What is causing the noise that hampers project execution? The panel discussed a wide range of issues such as:

  • incomplete field completion notices
  • proper photo documentation and benchmark readings
  • documents waiting to be transcribed and uploaded electronically
  • field data accessibility
  • quality reviews with actionable instructions

Ultimately the importance of capturing field data and converting it to actionable information became obvious from the stories that emerged. This became more apparent as we discussed project communication and validation lifecycles. Completion notices, photo verifications, and project data uploads provide the foundation for successful project execution. It was agreed that making sure the data is accessible, usable, and actionable is critical to project success.

However, while service providers realize a change is necessary, there are only a few that put these changes into action in their deployment projects. At the event, I polled the audience and only 10 percent captured and stored any kind of installation information. Even more telling, not even one used the information after they captured it.

Ray and I went on to discuss three specific case studies that demonstrated the benefit of implementing an approach to better standardize, communicate, and validate across the project lifecycle. The first involved a CSP with a multi-state deployment of over 2,000 nodes serving 5 million subscribers, the second was a regional CSP project involving over 100 installations a week across 20 exchanges, and the third was a large regional deployment project that involved 231 field locations across 40 exchanges serving 18,000 subscribers.

In all scenarios, by focusing on 4 key aspects during the project lifecycle, the CSPs were able to improve the efficiency and completion of the respective projects:

  1. Establishing standards based end-to-end project execution methodologies and best practices
  2. Addressing and correcting informal completion processes
  3. Automating field execution and information collection
  4. Establishing more efficient and scalable information storage and accessibility to data

The key was making the information collected easy, accessible, and actionable which can be enabled through various approaches. In this case, these CSPs used the tools, best practices, and resources that make up the Deployment Enablement Services. You can find out more about this collection of Calix Professional Services here. I also encourage you to check out the video featuring 3 Rivers on their use of Deployment Enablement Services. If you have a project deployment best practice I didn’t cover, please share that with me and we can discuss it in future blogs.