Etisalat’s new way of looking at IT performance

Business is evolving at a rapid pace meaning companies are adopting new technologies to help enhance their bottom lines. However, implementing technology without evaluating efficiency and effectiveness may not provide the expected results.

Etisalat Group has a special focus on performance management to helps evaluate the effectiveness of any solutions we implement, and subsequently improve this based on a performance evaluation.

Why the need for change?

Etisalat Group Technology performance department was generating a network performance report which helped evaluate the performance of our various operating companies (OpCos) by benchmarking their performance to help them learn from one another.

Seeing this success story, senior management within Etisalat wanted to replicate this experience for IT departments too. Our Performance Management team found that the existing performance criteria was isolated, focusing on a particular solution or system – specifically CPU load and storage space, and not considering the end-to-end process.

A new journey begins

Brainstorming began with a focus on building on the current performance measures so as to develop a model based on IT capabilities which could provide us a much bigger picture of how IT was performing. By capabilities we mean things such as operational, business, agile, infrastructure, digital capabilities, etc. We homed in on which aspects of the capabilities were important to the overall business to identify the appropriate and most valuable metrics.

The Performance Management department learned that:

  • Performance reports that take time to produce and analyze eventually lose their value with company changes making them no longer applicable.
  • What is being reported can be unnecessarily repetitive
  • If the measurements and metrics remain the same and the result yield nothing new, we eventually see a lack of excitement and momentum, with any new issues ignored, and a general loss of interest in improving the situation.

A fresh approach

Inspired by agile methodology and scrum framework, we developed a phased approach, which I detail further below, particularly phase one which has already taken effect. Phases allow for the flexibility to make changes and evolve without it being detrimental to the whole project. Throughout the first phase, we consistently utilize stakeholder feedback which ensured continuous improvements rather than sticking with a set way of doing things. And of course, it kept the excitement alive amongst the stakeholders who could see all their hard work taking effect.

Performance Management Phase One

The team selected subsets of both operational and business capabilities.

Operational capabilities:

  • Operational subsets include availability of service, time to resolve a fault/complaint/query, service downtime, faults/complains/queries per application, etc.
  • Categorizing IT applications (e.g Online Billing, Data Warehouse, CRM, etc.) into different classes based on their business criticality.
  • Weighting each class based on its significance to the business (such as how direct the impact is for subscribers).

Business Capabilities:

  • Business requests such include launching new services and offers
  • IT calculates ‘time to complete’
  • Each category is weighted based on business significance and is split into three categories (high medium and low) based on their complexity and impact on systems.

Operational and business capabilities are also weighted to calculate an IT Performance index by measuring the impact on revenue and subscriber, giving a high-level unified score for overall performance.

Engagement with OpCos

Getting OpCo buy in was a challenge. Their task was not only to provide the necessary performance information to us, but also to take initiatives to improve their performance based on the report findings.

A series of back to back meetings were held with the OpCos hashing out all the necessary details including clarifying the performance structure, the parameters being measures, what data will be required and this data will help to evaluate in improve performance. We used scrum framework methodology which is specifically designed to deliver products/projects with complex ecosystems, consistently incorporating what we learnt into our ongoing strategy.

This OpCo engagement ended with a finished product in the form of a report to be used by affected senior management and department heads to make improvements. The report was well received, and upon review, the Etisalat Group management gave the go-ahead to begin publishing these reports on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.

Outcomes and future plans

The impact of the reports has been phenomenal. We can see a vast improvement in our business capabilities, most prominently the time it takes to introduce a new product to the market or change in existing product which has seen an overall 25% time reduction. We started from not meeting the KPI threshold to a full KPI target achievement (i.e. meeting the capability targets detailed earlier) in the last three months.

In the next phase, we will incorporate more of our OpCos. We will also make any necessary enhancements to existing capability metrics, and add further capabilities to the reports such as agility, digitalization, artificial intelligence (AI), infrastructure, etc. The idea is to then once again measure the overall performance.

This is only our first step in using performance reports to help transform IT performance. We have a long way to go and a lot to incorporate but our initial success gives us confidence that we are on the right path.

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