STEPPING OUTSIDEOFTHE ‘BOX’ TO ADDRESSA CUSTOMERPAIN POINT
ByRoss Gillette,Aviat Networks,DirectorofServices, Africa
Customers are looking for partners who can do more than just provide them with “boxes.” To reallypartner with customers, sometimes you have to step outsideofthe box. Providing a comprehensive,advanced Spares Management Program solution to MTN Nigeria—Aviat Networks’ largest customerand a major Tier 1 mobile network operator in Africa—is a prime example of what can be accomplishedwhen stepping outsideofthe box.
As many are aware, Africa represents a challengingoperating environment where on a daily basismobileoperatorshave to contend with power outages, lack ofinfrastructure and a shortage of trained personnel. Dueto these issues, MTN Nigeria was experiencingsignificant challenges with its spares managementrelated to its overall installed base of networkequipment.This included having more spares than wereneeded but never having the right spare in the rightplace at the right time.Even though the customer had a large supply of sparesas part of capital expenditures, it was actually verydifficult to keep track of the physical inventory. In thissituation, MTN Nigeria asked its suppliers to managethe problem. Each supplier was to take account-ability for owning and managing the problem for thecustomer.
OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE
This is well outside of the typical services that wireless solutions providers normallyoffer. Historically,Aviat Networks has provided repair support services to customers and perhaps managed some sparesat a company facility. Then if something was needed on short notice, Aviat Networks’ service personnelcould deliver critical parts to the customer’s premises. However, taking on management of thecomplete customer inventory of spares was something thatAviat Networks had never done.In addition, MTN Nigeria identified very specific Service Level Agreement (SLA) terms that had to be metorthere would be penalties. Not only were we asked to do something outside of our comfort zone butalso if we did not perform as per the SLA, there would be a price to pay.The services team in Nigeria went to work on the proposal with an abundance of caution because theywere working without a model on which to base a proposal. There was no precedent for a service of thisnaturewithin the company. Also, any proposal would require complex legal negotiations, upfrontinvestments to buy the customer’s existingspares inventory and negotiations with third-party partners(e.g., DHL) to ensure that they could support the SLA.After more than eight months of extensive negotiations, the Nigeria services team reached anagreement with the customer. The MTN Nigeria Spares Management Program has now been in placefor more than 18 months, and—aside from a six-month ramping phase—it has continuallyoutperformed the customer’s expectations(Figure 1).
Providing acomprehensive,advanced SparesManagementProgram solution toMTN Nigeria is aprime example of what can beaccomplished whenstepping outsideof the box.Figure 1.Aviat Networks’ services team delivers criticalspares with 90 percent on-time availability to MTNNigeriacell sites,asper the SLA with the leading mobile operator in Nigeria and all Africa.