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Don’t break the orders!

In Disney's computer-animated film“Ralph Breaks the Internet," Wreck-It Ralph and his best friend Vanelloppe von Schweetz need to “go inside” the Internet to save Vanellope's video game. Their end goal is to purchase the cabinet's broken steering wheel from eBay to be delivered on time so the machine can be fixed before the owner sends it to waste and, in the process, they need to complete several subsequent tasks where the outputs directly impact their course of action. In summary, it is a giant order fulfillment movie!

A man sitting on his knees in a lab
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The challenge 

Order fulfillment has always been a challenge for service providers that have to deal with several different IT and network systems in order to deliver a customer purchase that could encompass several different workflows depending on purchase type, channel, customer type and many other variables. For example, a  person buying a simple post-paid subscription online has a completely different fulfillment flow than an enterprise purchasing hundreds of devices with different plans for several branches and departments through the CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) interface. In recent years it has become even more complex with the introduction of new customer demands as a result of  digital transformation trends along with the “Amazon-like” shopping experience – marketplaces, all digital commerce, do-it-yourself, shopping cart, express check-out and seamless and quick delivery.

Nowadays, whether buying shoes, a data add-on to watch Netflix at high speeds or a Dollar Shave Club subscription through the operator marketplace, the user expects to start using their purchase  right away without hassles. It means that the CSP order fulfillment system  must be ready to not only execute in real-time the workflow to orchestrate the orders between several systems – for example, update billing system with new purchase, activate the new profile in HLR, update user information in PCRF, inform third parties about the purchase through open APIs, and so on – but also to handle unexpected responses and errors in a way that will not disturb the user experience. Beyond that, these systems need to be flexible enough to allow quick changes and updates to existing flows based on new customer demands, marketing campaigns, IT or network updates and many other variables. The performance of the order management system may be the difference in the attempt to increase monetization of network assets.

In this new digital era, it is extremely important that an order care system streamlines order management through negotiation, validation, decomposition, routing and status tracking. It must also handle multisite, virtualization and multiservice order  structures with configurable workflows, along with flexible policies to fulfill partial orders, escalate stalled orders and roll back failed or cancelled orders. Additionally, it shouldprovide updates to external systems to reflect real-time order status. Plus, it needs strong fallout management capabilities that let you efficiently handle exceptions and notifications so operators will know quickly if and when customer requests can be fulfilled.

Key features to keep in mind when implementing a order management system

When implementing or updating order fulfillment capabilities, service providers must have the following key features in mind:

  • Catalog-driven order automation: Automate the entire order management lifecycle using pre-defined and proven process components;
  • Order negotiation: Readily offer pricing, availability and multi-featured bundles and discounts, and validate even the most complex order prior to provisioning;
  • Reduced system and operational cost: Coordinate automated service order processing and manual work activities in one system;
  • Increased deployment speed: Reuse proven workflows, take advantage of 100% configurable business logic, user and system interfaces and fully customizable reports and dashboards;
  • End-to-end order status visibility: Drive continuous process improvement using reports and analytics.

In the movie, Ralph and Vanelloppe (spoiler alert!) almost lose it among lots of confusion and bad decisions to handle the outcome of their orders. But in the end, they are able to “orchestrate” everything and reach their goal (and more!). This is expected in a Disney movie but not in the live network of a CSP – never let your customers think about what may be happening behind the curtains to get the purchase activated as it may lead them to churn and look for another company that will not give them food for thought. If your order management system works well, the  outside world should never know that it even exists, so we don´t need Ralph and Vanelloppe inside it to handle your orders.

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