Project Management Institute

Alcatel gains global consumer confidence with project expertise

BY RUSTY SHELTON

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Rusty Shelton is the vice president/general manager of Alcatel's U.S. Network Services Division. Alcatel designs, develops and builds innovative and competitive communications networks, from end-to-end optical infrastructures, fixed and mobile networks to broadband access. With sales of $25 billion in 2001 and 99,000 employees, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries.

With project management as a core competency, Alcatel's deliverable becomes a blend of products and services—a solution rather than merely additional network elements. The criteria for success are simply timeliness and operability, but the actual outcomes are customer confidence in Alcatel's people, products, processes and services in addition to the company's enhanced expanded profile as a turnkey solutions provider. With the increasing commoditization of telecommunications products, a vendor's capability and reputation as a solutions provider becomes a valuable differentiator. Project management is a critical factor in this differentiation.

Globally, Alcatel has earned a reputation as a turnkey supplier, often providing a customized suite of pre- and post-commissioning services to design, deploy, commission and ultimately operate and maintain networks consisting of products from multiple vendors. These activities are addressed and managed as projects. As such, the key single customer point of contact is the Alcatel project manager. Similarly, the associated internal processes both demand and depend on management of all phases of each project—scope of work, individual tasks, milestone dates, budget attainment and change-order control.

The teamwork required in a project approach creates business and personal relationships, facilitating a broadening of the traditional customer-vendor relationship.

The company has reaped a number of long-term benefits from project management implementation. Customers' and industry recognition of Alcatel's global project management strength creates opportunities involving non-Alcatel products, opening new avenues for revenue generation and enhancing Alcatel's value to individual companies.

Two successes are in the wireless market. Globally, Alcatel continues to win large, multi-country turnkey deployments of networks utilizing technologies that range from microwave radio to the global system for mobile communication networks that will deliver wireless data services for customers and businesses during the next few years. These networks consist of several vendors'—including Alcatel's—products. In the United States, our focus and initial success have been metro solutions for wireless carriers. Several of these carriers rely on leased T1 and DS3 circuits in their networks, which create significant costs. Alcatel's solution has been to help the carrier obtain fiber (dark or lit), to design and propose a network solution (products), to offer turnkey design and deployment services (through commissioning and provisioning phases) and to propose operations and maintenance. A key element of success of these global and U.S. deployments is project management.

Once customers accept Alcatel's position as a turnkey solutions provider, they must execute the vendor procurement process only once, as opposed to purchasing products and services from multiple sources and suppliers. Herein resides the true benefits of turnkey solutions—Alcatel assumes various elements of a customer's supply chain involving network design, equipment selection, deployment, integration, commissioning and maintenance with a single proposal. This reduces the customer's costs, which further enhances Alcatel's position and the true economic value of its solution.

But the reality of Alcatel's ability to deliver the solutions outlined in that proposal requires a project approach. By nature, projects consist of Alcatel and customer teams establishing business processes and designing custom interfaces (people and systems) to meet the required timeframes and ensure operability of the deliverables. The teamwork required in this approach creates business and personal relationships, facilitating a broadening of the traditional customer-vendor relationship. Equipment suppliers depend on a working relationship between the vendor's sales organization and a customer's engineering (product selection) and procurement (purchase order generation) departments. As Alcatel meets the milestones and hits the delivery targets on solutions-based projects, trust develops and the customer-vendor relationship expands into a customer's operations department, possibly even into its information systems and “back office” areas such as billing and provisioning. These benefits manifest themselves in near-term and longer-term life-cycle customer cost reductions while incorporating Alcatel into the fabric of a customer's operations and business processes. Both Alcatel and the customer begin to identify future opportunities to partner and reprise the successes based on trust and results.

Re-inventing oneself never occurs quickly. We at Alcatel are discovering the necessity of new internal partnerships, which will facilitate our ability to identify and deliver creative, responsive solutions to our customers and to new carriers. Our global experience has demonstrated repeatedly what we have discovered in the U.S. during the past year: The delivery of solutions demands a disciplined approach to longer duration, more complex and more mission-critical customer projects. Project management is a key element in Alcatel's continuing success in differentiating itself as a solutions provider to current and future customers. PM

TALK THE TALK

  • Box Providers Traditionally, equipment vendors.
  • Solutions Providers Usually, systems integrators that design and deploy networks (multiple product types from one or more vendors) or work with a customer to understand a particular problem, then propose a solution (products and/or services) supported by a return-on-investment proposition.
  • Turnkey A relative term that too often refers to services that only slightly exceed the basic physical installation of hardware.

Reader Service Number 114

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PM NETWORK | JULY 2002 | www.pmi.org
JULY 2002 | PM NETWORK

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