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One Year of Automation, 100K Staff Hours Saved: A Telco Giant’s Big Gain  

Written By Joanna Smartwood
Aug 17, 2023

A leading mobile communications company, based in South Africa, had big plans for its growth in the upcoming months. To ensure customer loyalty as they continued to grow their subscribers, they had to make sure their networks evolved while maintaining performance.  

That meant the organization’s IT and network teams needed a way to support business goals for growth with their existing capacity. The team recognized the only way they could do both is by improving operational efficiencies of their existing processes. They identified a few key processes that could be automated allowing them to manage the dynamically increasing complexity of their multi-vendor networks while reducing human errors.  

Automation: A Key Enabler to Drive Much-needed Process Efficiency  

Of those processes identified, network configuration was selected as one to be revamped. The team identified very high error rates for this process – over 20 percent due to incorrect inputs, which slowed things down. This activity took up most of the team’s resources, leaving a few-to-none to fight daily issues in case they occurred. It put the team in a bad light for lacking enough agility and speed needed to respond to business needs.  

Network configuration was completely manual, with a network engineer making all configuration changes and running post-config checks and validations. The processes was riddled with inefficiencies:  

  • Incorrect config requests meant the whole process needed to be restarted. 
  • Human errors (copy and paste errors, choosing incorrect options, etc.) increased time to complete as well as costs. 
  • They were delayed in acknowledging and responding to approval requests. 
  • Manual service assurance checks needed to be performed to check every line of config and logs. 

This activity was repeated monthly to ensure networks were in compliance with the latest security patches, and the team was collectively spending close to 22,370 hours per month just performing configuration updates and audit check on their devices.  

That meant the team was losing a collective average of 2,796 days per month in productivity. Several contributing factors put the team in a far-from-ideal spot, as they were unable to properly scale with the way they were currently managing their config changes. Their processes were just too slow. 

The team needed a way to quickly overhaul the process and they strongly believed automation would be the vehicle for transformation. 

Resolve as the Partner for Success 

As the organization provides voice, messaging, data, and converged services to more than 55 million customers, the need for automation couldn’t have been clearer.  

While network configuration was the first use case they wanted to tackle, the team recognized that automation opportunities within the organization’s environment were plentiful. They wanted to invest in a platform that would quickly alleviate pain points they were experiencing, but also support complex customer-facing use cases that they would automate at a later date.  

Resolve Actions was their automation platform of choice. It was built for the scale they needed and would also help them automate the complex use cases they had in mind. Further, the platform’s Automation Exchange allowed them to get started faster since they did not have to build integrations into their network vendors.  

The team was impressed with the interactive automation capabilities and guided automations since the network engineers were reluctant to be completely hands-off in the beginning. They wanted some oversight when automations were making changes to production networks, and Resolve’s guided procedures allowed them to stay involved only when needed to verify that the correct change was being applied. 

Out with The Old, In with The New 

Resolve’s platform went to work and automated the end-to-end process of accepting a planner’s configuration, validating the proposed configuration, and actually deploying that configuration to the target devices.  

Automation created what seemed like an all-new network configuration world – unrecognizable from the old, problematic process.  

From errors to accuracy 

  • Automation significantly reduced these mistakes by electronically validating data entry before the submission for configuration script creation was sent.  
  • Automation made things smoother and more reliable by maintaining strict adherence to the Standard Operating Procedure – no copy or paste needed.  
  • With automation queries, the device could be validated directly, and in real-time.  

From manual spreadsheets to real-time automation  

  • The company was using Excel spreadsheets for its inventory tracking, which required constant manual updates due to environmental changes (not to mention limitations in Excel’s capabilities). To increase efficiency in inventory management and remove the tedious tasks, automation enabled integration with third party systems and handled all updates in real-time, eliminating outdated spreadsheets and swivel-chair tasks. 

From 55 minutes to 5  

  • Waiting for acknowledgments and responses to approval requests caused long delays. Automation took these waits away with automated requests and reminders, and allowed for the team to automatically pick up new change requests. 
  • The IT team was running manual service assurance checks, and in addition to missed quality checks by a human team, there was a laundry list of lines of configurations and logs. It took an unreasonable amount of time. Adding the help of automation gifted IT with process standardization, complete with quality checks being upheld consistently, and every assurance test being executed in the same sequence.  
  • An IT engineer typically spent 55 minutes on a new site configuration when doing it the old way, and this was only without interruptions. The amount of time, with automation, decreased to just a few minutes.   

The Business Impact – Inside and Out 

Replacing manual methods with automation unleashed efficiency in the IT department, affecting the business as a whole. With automation, IT engineers no longer had to provide updates or track processes and instead, everything was done in real-time alongside them. Improved efficiency brought both quantitative benefits such as cost savings, resulting in greater profitability and ROI, and qualitative benefits with increased productivity and higher employee satisfaction.  

The telco’s success story included: 

  • Saving over 100,000 hours with automation in less than one year with 32 use cases  
  • Successfully upskilling their workforce to transition to an automation-first culture, benefitting the business in the long-term 
  • Assembling a healthy pipeline of use cases to carry their automation strategy forward, with 147 workflows in the backlog, ready to go 
  • Building a team of five Resolve SMEs to make up their automation COE and drive automation best practices internally, and advocate for healthy automation practices 
  • An expanded footprint from the network operations teams to IT Operations with 10 use cases  

Their Journey with Resolve 

Starting with network configuration, an outdated, manual process that was plastered with repetition, exhaustion, and error, and progressing to a cutting-edge automation culture, the organization gained a lot along the way.  

For starters, the business, in the beginning, set a goal of saving 28,000 staff hours. But in less than a year of automation implementation, they had actually saved well over 100,000 working hours. 

In less than a year, the IT team had just under 150 automation workflows in the backlog, ready to go into production.  

The company has its eyes set on optimizing its Network Operations Center (NOC) in South Africa that serves the entire continent of Africa.  

Raising the Revenue Roof  

End-to-end process automation unlocked greater efficiencies and increased cost savings, which freed up revenue, as well as people, and ultimately helped the company reach goals for big growth.  

Nine months after its astonishing staff-hour success, the telco giant was able to secure a huge acquisition and have seamless integration with the new company, according to an Egyptian publication. The acquisition helped the company achieve the required quality of services for its customers. The acquisition also led to a 2023 third-quarter revenue rise of nearly 15 percent.  

The business’s investment in automation allowed the company to make major accomplishments, especially in terms of driving business results, reaching exceptional ROI, and saving valuable time. Automation also helped them optimize its NOC and save 100,000 staff hours within one year, allowing the IT team to focus on more strategic business initiatives.  

To learn more about how IT automation can impact your business and the benefits it can offer, request a custom demo.  

About the author, Joanna Smartwood:

About the author, Joanna Smartwood:

Head of Demand Generation, Content & Creative

Joanna Swartwood is Head of Demand Generation, Content & Creative at Resolve Systems. With 20+ years’ experience in developing and running high-performing marketing campaigns, Joanna is passionate about curating demand gen strategies that deliver pipeline and revenue growth. Demand gen in the B2B SaaS tech space is Joanna’s career calling.