Fine Tuning Wireless and IoT Operations

Published by: Peter Dobbs

In our experience, strong change control processes are the acid test of effective wireless management. Without strong change control, your employees will struggle in meeting their goals. Specifically, you may see the following symptoms of poor change control.

Change control is the process that translates user needs into action. If it is slow, manual or inefficient, productivity suffers.

In large organizations like governments or publicly traded companies, the need and expectation for smooth wireless change control is even higher. In our experience, managers are well equipped to manage their financial and HR responsibilities. They have the training and tools to succeed there. Managing wireless services and devices? That is a different story.

Do You Have The Symptoms of Poor Wireless Change Control?

In our experience, strong change control processes are the acid test of effective wireless management. Without strong change control, your employees will struggle in meeting their goals. Specifically, you may see the following symptoms of poor change control.

1. Productivity Limited By Manual Procedures

Each year, you are probably asked to take on more responsibility with the same resources. It is difficult to square that circle, yet you are determined to try. You may decide to meet with your team and review everyone’s activities. What activities can be reduced, transferred to another department or otherwise improved?

Before long, you may find out that your staff relies on manual procedures to carry out change control. Improving productivity without transforming the process will be a difficult proposition.

2. Employee Experience Undermined By Errors and Quality Problems

No process is perfect. Unless you are managing nuclear power, your organization can probably tolerate occasional errors. That said, if errors become a way of life, other stakeholders will become frustrated with wireless and IoT operations. In managing wireless changes, quality problems appear as rework and complaints. For example, a new hire requires a smartphone and, through a series of missteps, weeks go by with no results. As a manager, if you receive multiple escalations each month about errors and delays in the wireless process, then you have a problem.

If this trend continues, support for wireless and IoT operations may suffer internally. Declining support will lead to a vicious cycle of declining service quality.

3. Reconciliation Challenges

Keeping the books in balance is difficult. Accountants have years of training and robust systems to help them. In our experience, few wireless and IoT operations teams have that level of skills. Consider the following scenario:

Last month, you had 980 active wireless subscriptions. This month, you add 20 subscriptions and adjust five other plans. How do you know that those changes have implemented and you are being billed correctly?

For many organizations, the answer boils down to either a manual process or none at all. In essence, the administrator would require a reconciliation process to keep everything organized. That might mean using an Access database or Excel spreadsheets with historical data. Alternatively, your staff may need to review invoices side by side to attempt to pick out anomalies. Manual reconciliation is difficult and time-consuming, and for that very reason, it is often not performed.

Move Add Change and Disconnect (MACD) Assessment Questions

To assess the health of your wireless and IoT operations from an MACD perspective, answer the following questions with a yes or no response.

 1. My organization has a written procedure that explains the wireless MACD process.

2. More than one person has the training, system access and authority to carry out wireless MACD processes (i.e. there is no “Single Point of Knowledge” failure)

3. I have defined key performance indicators (KPIs) for the wireless MACD activities.

4. Management receives regular reports on MACD activity on a monthly basis.

5. You have received multiple complaints from other stakeholders in the organization about wireless and IoT operations (e.g. subscription plan changes, issuing new devices or incorrect charges)

6. The organization has defined wireless cost reduction goals for the team (e.g. reduce international roaming fees).

7. My organization has defined service levels for fulfilling requests (e.g. we fulfill 90% of new device requests within five business days.)

8. My organization has communication and training plans to communicate wireless policies (e.g. new employee onboarding package and an annual update process).

9. My organization has insight on how to reduce the frequency of new wireless and IoT device purchases and a process to redeploy existing devices (e.g. the ability to easily identify that there are available devices and know the age, condition, and any issues the device may have had).

10. Full audit trails are generated and retained on wireless devices to satisfy internal control requirements (e.g. documentation of approvals and decisions are generated and retained as per records retention requirements).

If you answered yes to more than half of the questions, congratulations! You have already laid the foundation of an effective MACD program. If you answered yes to less than half questions, you have discovered the need for improvement. Finding expensive problems in your organization on your own is much better than someone else finding problems.

The Way Forward To Improved Wireless and IoT Change Control

The journey to improved wireless and IoT change control does not have to be difficult. To improve efficiency and transparency, use the following principles.

Equip The Wireless and IoT Operations Team

By equipping the wireless and IoT operations function with training, they will have greater capabilities to prevent waste. Training may cover regularly updated internal processes, new software to use and education in the wireless industry. This training equips the train to ask better questions and notice problems.

The Key Measure: Has everyone in the department been trained on a documented process to carry out wireless MACD activities?

Refresh Wireless Policies and Processes

Most employees do not give much thought to wireless and IoT operations because they are focused on different concerns. That said, every employee needs the fundamentals. For example, managers and employees leaving the organization should clearly understand when and how devices must be returned. We recommend providing a wireless device lifespan policy. If employees know that devices are expected to last three or four years, they are likely to become more careful.

The Key Measure: Has the enterprise published and communicated wireless policies and procedures to support efficient MACD?

Seek Out Enterprise Optimization Opportunities

As the department becomes more proficient at managing MACD changes, there is an opportunity to ask larger questions. For example, look for trends in MACD changes over time. You may find that subscriptions are frequently adjusted due to international travel. Instead of processing the changes, it may be more efficient to negotiate a different default subscription.

The Key Measure: In the past 12 months, what enterprise improvement suggestions have the wireless and IoT operations or MACD team made to save time, reduce cost or improve service?