Service Delivery is the process of activating a product or service for a particular customer. In the Quote to Cash realm, the term ‘provision’ is used for products and services that are digital or network oriented – things you cannot touch or hold. Fulfillment is the term typically used for physical goods that are exchanged at a point of sale location, or delivered to the end customer by a field technician or via shipping.
From a customer experience perspective, this is where the exchange of goods and services take place and the benefit of the product or service purchased is realized.
Effective monetization architectures carefully balance the concept of ‘provision and bill.’ One of the best measures of an effective process is when the number of services provisioned or active equal the number of services that are being billed. Due to a variety of factors, these numbers can be out of sync, representing lost revenue if there are more active than billed services, or potential customer service issues if the reverse is true.
Service Delivery Components
Physical Inventory represents the inventory of tangible products that are available to customers such as wireless handsets, servers, customer premise equipment (CPE), or many other products.
Physical inventory is critical to service providers, including Telecommunications (handsets, CPE, ports, etc.), Infrastructure as a Service (cages, racks, servers, etc.), and any company that requires a physical device to deliver the product or service (such as a GPS unit, time clock, or set-top box).
A best practice regarding physical inventory and the Q2C Process is for the system to ensure that when a customer receives a quote for physical products, the corresponding products are available in inventory to be fulfilled. Those units must be reserved for the customer.
When the products are not available during the selling process, it frustrates customers and puts entire deals at risk.
Logical inventory represents the non-physical assets a company owns, such as phone numbers or IP addresses, which are crucial to tracking a product or service. These items aren’t physically stored in a warehouse or data center.
Logical inventory is a key requirement in the service provider space such as with telecommunications and Infrastructure as a Service.
Professional Services Automation (PSA)
Professional Services Automation, along with its kissing cousin Project & Portfolio Management (PPM), can be software applications or groups of applications that track project metrics such as time recording, billing, reporting, and utilization. The main purpose of these applications is support and tracking of the company’s operational aspects for implementation of their own solutions. In short, these solutions monitor implementation, engineering, or product teams.
This allows the provider to gather metrics and data to improve efficiency and decrease costs, labor, and time-to-service for customers.
Workflow Management (WFM)
Workflow Management (not to be confused with Workflow Management Applications) is the process of coordinating the employees and contractors who deliver service to a customer in the field. This can be done at a customer location, or within some segment of the network used to deliver service to a customer.
A good example of this is typically B2B Telecommunications or B2C Cable TV activation, where an engineer or network technician needs to be on-site (colloquially called a truck roll) to activate a service.
In the Quote to Cash realm, the term provision is used to describe the activation of products and services that are digital or network-oriented in nature. When a cable company turns on a television or internet service for a customer, or Netflix allows users to stream movies, those are instances of Provisioning.
It should also be noted that provisioning is tightly aligned with a company’s billing system, its usage processing, and is often a trigger in the Revenue Recognition/Financial Management System that earned revenue is realized.
Fulfillment is to physical inventory what Provisioning is to logical inventory. Specifically, fulfillment is the exchange of a physical product – regardless of whether the product was picked up from a company retail location, delivered by a field technician, or received via a shipment, and should be treated as a separate, independent line item in a company’s billing and revenue recognition systems when the physical inventory and the logical inventory are not delivered in parallel.
Detailed: People | Process | Technology
Service Delivery responsibilities generally land squarely on a company’s Operations team. They are tasked with turning up a service, arranging a delivery or truck roll, and exceeding customer expectations, among a myriad of other duties. The Customer Service and Customer Success organizations are also integral to the Service Delivery realm, as they are that omnipresent link between customers and the back office.
The Product team and Finance group, along with Legal, are also part of the success equation related to Service Delivery.
Key Vendor AlertThe Service Delivery domain is made up of three different software categories and is segmented below by these software types.
PSA Key Vendors
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Privately Held
HQ: Phoenix, AZ
Company Type: Privately Held
Inventory Key Vendors
HQ: Chesterfield, MO
Company Type: Public
Network Key Vendors
HQ: Redwood Shores, CA
Company Type: Public