02 Nov 2010


BT Operate’s Lead to Cash unit rolls out Service Manufacturing – its new Lean approach based on sfn

close up of fibreoptics

In telecoms, demand continues to grow for bigger and faster networks supporting complex corporate applications, and competition is increasing from global systems integrators. BT Operate ruthlessly drove out “waste” in its end-to-end order to delivery processes, so that it could efficiently deliver global networked solutions to the world’s largest and most demanding customers.

The company focused on two key areas: ‘right first time’ (RFT) and reduced cycle times.

RFT aims to ensure that an order passes through each stage in the delivery process only once. By using sfn, BT Operate’s Lead to Cash unit has been able to drive up RFT from around 60% to consistently above 95% for its major customers and product families. The increase in RFT has enabled the almost total elimination of re-work, thus liberating significant numbers of people to deliver value where it was needed and drastically reducing delivery costs.

Reducing cycle times involves delivering efficiently, as close to the customer committed date/time as possible. Thanks to the insights provided by sfn, the percentage of deliveries on time has increased and been sustained at well over 90%. By reducing the variables around cycle times, contractual dates have been met (avoiding  late penalty payments) and customer satisfaction has increased.


BT Operate is spearheading its entry into “Lean” through the introduction of what they call “Service Manufacturing”. There are two main elements to this – Service Integration and Service Delivery. Service Integration is a complex process, pulling together many components to deliver an initial solution to a pilot area for a customer. The completed programme is handed over to Service Delivery for rollout.

‘In simple terms, in Service Integration we must rapidly build an operational model of the process flow, implement that flow, and use sfn to help streamline that flow’, explains Joe Hodges, Director – Service Integration. ‘Once things are stable and we have RFT percentage achievement in the high 90s, and variance of “Delivery to Promise” as close to zero as practicable, we “off-board” the remaining bulk of delivery through Service Delivery.’

Throughout Service Integration and Service Delivery, the concepts of Service Manufacturing are applied, from the CEO through to the team of engineers delivering the solution – the key elements being to drive out “waste” demand and drive in “value” demand.

Providing sfn to users involved in front-line processes gives them the capability to identify wasteful activities at the activity level. They require no management intervention. They can see immediately from sfn where corrective action needs to be taken, and whether their corrective action is improving things or not.


‘We started by using Lightfoot’s Managed Service, whereby they set up all the sfn licenses and technical linkages to our data on their own secure computer systems,’ says Hodges. ‘They trained our users on how to use sfn and, more importantly, delivered a number of coaching workshops on how to get business benefit rapidly.’

- Lightfoot Solutions has been exemplary in providing us with the support we needed when we needed it

Joe Hodges, Director – Service Integration


‘After 3 months or so of delivering significant staff savings, we decided to scale up and bring the sfn solution in-house. Lightfoot not only installed sfn on our own in-house IT infrastructure, they trained us how to do it for ourselves, including training us on how to connect to other data sources.’


As the BT teams became more familiar with sfn, they realised that it had applications beyond these Customer Journeys. For example, the onset of the credit crunch through 2009 caused expenditure on Travel and Expenses to be highly scrutinised: by applying sfn to this data, the company could see at a glance any peaks or negative trends in expenditure, and where these were being driven from. In a few weeks, the costs of travel and expenses became significantly more predictable.

BT has extended the solution to better management of projects and operations for energy usage and failure prediction in exchanges, the Openreach network, data centres, internal IT systems and platforms, as well as to products such as Recare and Payphones. This has enabled the company to massively leverage its investment in sfn.

Speeding BT order processing for high-bandwidth mobile providers
How sfn has helped BT to deliver an improved order processing flow and customer service

Managed Ethernet Access Service – MEAS – is BT’s next generation data service to mobile operators, that connects the remote mast (or aerial) to the mobile operator’s core network. Using sfn allows BT’s Service Delivery Optimisation unit to identify the root causes of issues that might impact the service.

MEAS helps BT’s customers to supply high quality service to content-hungry smartphones, tablets and mobile broadband devices. BT Wholesale manages MEAS contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds – these contracts are strategically important and need to be delivered flawlessly. Failure has a negative impact on the customer experience and impacts revenue.


‘To ensure that we got to the root cause of the issues quickly we used the Service Manufacturing tool sfn,’ says Luke Beeson, Head of Service Delivery Optimisation, ‘ which allowed us to perform forensic analysis to task level across the Lead to Cash MEAS Service Delivery process.’

‘We used it to identify failures in process, people and technology that contributed to the performance of BT’s “right first time” KPI, as well as identifying the variables or instability of cycle time in stages of the delivery process.’

This has led to changes in the way the company processes orders received from customers, including the instruction of an automated order validation tool. By using sfn to identify specific tasks that are taking longer to complete than targeted, operational teams are able to formulate and implement process changes to bring task times within target and so improve the process flow