WTA - Teleport Certification Program – Insight into the Audit Process
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Posted by: Angus Blackwood
The WTA teleport certification program was launched in September 2015 and is now well underway with several teleports achieving provisional certification and the number of fully certified teleports increasing steadily. The program was initiated in response to requests from WTA members and aims to create an objective, transparent and internationally accepted method for:
- Teleport operators to document the quality of their operations for customers and strategic partners;
- Customers to select teleport vendors delivering the price-performance level that is appropriate for their applications.
Aside from the benefits of WTA certification, the program offers a great opportunity for teleport operators to get their teleport health-checked through an on-site audit by an expert. This article provides a brief description of the audit and how it can help teleport operators raise their game.
The application process for WTA Teleport Certification is described fully here. In summary, the process starts with an initial self-evaluation by the applicant teleport, which involves completing the WTA’s certification questionnaire. The WTA team reviews the completed questionnaire and assigns a provisional certification at an appropriate level or ‘Tier’. There are four tiers corresponding to different teleport ‘quality’ levels. An auditor is dispatched to the teleport to independently assess the self-evaluation and advise the WTA of the teleport standard. Full certification is then awarded and remains in place for three years at which point re-certification can be requested. The whole process is designed to be straightforward, transparent and efficient.
A key part of the process is the teleport audit. The audit is carried out by an experienced technical expert, who performs an objective assessment of systems, processes and overall teleport capabilities. The audit provides an in-depth evaluation of the teleport and highlights areas for improvement by focusing on all key elements that determine the overall quality of teleport services. The auditor can advise on best practice and offer helpful and practical ideas on improving capability, efficiency and providing a better customer experience. The objectivity of the auditor is also a major advantage as the teleport senior management can be confident the assessment is unbiased and based on industry best practice.
For an audit to be effective, the auditor needs to fully understand the overall teleport capabilities and operational processes and this is achieved by a visit to the teleport. During the visit the auditor will carry out a thorough tour of the facilities, covering infrastructure such as electrical distribution and back-up systems, cooling, fire protection systems and security. Antenna systems and transmission chains are reviewed as well as terrestrial connectivity including fiber carriers, capacity, routing and technologies adopted. Network operations capabilities are also assessed including monitoring and control systems and staffing arrangements. The evaluation also includes a thorough review of procedures covering key operational processes such as incident management, change and problem management as well as information security, capacity management and service continuity.
The visit typically only takes one day but this can vary depending on the size and complexity of the teleport. The audit is also a good opportunity to discuss the questionnaire in detail and ensure all areas are fully understood.
Shortly after the teleport visit the auditor produces a report, which provides an overview of the teleport, a summary of the audit results and recommendations for improvement. The report is reviewed by the WTA who then awards the teleport full certification at an appropriate Tier and forwards the report to the teleport operator. Aside from the certification, the improvement recommendations are probably the most important part of the process for the applicant teleport.
The recommendations in the report provide a basis for actions – these can cover anything from infrastructure investment, process and systems improvement or more proactive supplier management. Whilst some recommendations may require investment, many improvements can be accomplished with virtually no investment other than time and effort. For example process improvements often provide huge benefits for customers. Cross-functional processes such as the ‘bid to cash’ process are particularly important for customers and an effective process that enables highly responsive service deployment can provide a competitive advantage for teleport operators.
The action plan can be used to develop a ‘teleport improvement plan’ that enables goals to be set and a team to be assembled and empowered to get on with making improvements. The key to a successful improvement plan is that it needs to be sustainable in the long term. For this to happen teleports need to consider how best they can instill a culture of continuous service improvement in their teams. This would involve assigning owners to services, processes and systems, empowering these owners to make improvements and rewarding achievements and behaviors that result in positive change.
So in summary, applying for WTA Teleport Certification is straightforward and efficient. The benefits are significant – not only does it result in formal WTA certification, it’s also an opportunity for a complete teleport health check covering infrastructure, systems and processes. The confidential health-check provides a basis for teleport operational performance improvement and cost reduction, which together enables sustainable business growth.
HawkCX – service improvement experts
+44 (0)7818 424684
Angus is Managing Director of UK-based HawkCX and an auditor for the WTA Teleport Certification Program.