Quest of tele-quality
telecom industry is advancing like never before. Bandwidth
is becoming abundant, and newer technologies combined
with liberalization are opening up the remotest areas
into the global tele-network.
not all is blissful for the telecom operators and
equipment providers. Cut throat competition and demanding
customers are pushing telecom companies against a
granite wall. Product life cycles are shrinking and
simultaneously increasing the risks associated with
any new product or service launch. This is also stoking
the merger and acquisition activities along with the
formation of big consortiums to maximize market share
and minimize risks.
light of these developments in the telecom market,
what telcos need is highly reliable equipment that
can withstand the maximum rigors of the network. Apart
from sturdy hardware and software, there is also a
need for software life cycle management, since new
developments are creating the demand for new software
all the time. Along with good tools, there is also
a need for improved customer service and trouble free
communications between suppliers and telcos. The increasing
number of technical standards and the high cost of
downtime have also created a lot of problems for telcos.
In April 1996, a core group of telecommunications
service providers, including Bell Atlantic, BellSouth,
Pacific Bell, and Southwestern Bell, initiated the
idea of standardizing quality requirements for the
industry. As a result of this meeting, the QuEST Forum
was formed in October 1997. Work began at the inaugural
meeting in January 1998. The Quality Excellence for
Suppliers of Telecommunications (QuEST) Forum is a
unique partnership of telecommunications suppliers
and service providers.
Forum Vision is a key force in the global telecommunications
industry to improve the quality of products for customers
through the collaborative efforts of service providers
and suppliers. The value proposition is that the quality
of the telecommunications industry could be improved
if an industry association encouraged uniform quality
requirements and standard quality cost and performance
based metrics and reporting.
· Foster quality systems that protect the integrity
and use of telecommunication products and services
· Establish a common set of quality system
· Define performance and cost based metrics
to guide and evaluate results of quality system implementation.
· Drive continuous improvement.
· Enhance customer-supplier relationships.
· Enhance quality of telecommunications products
and improve cost of ownership throughout the supply
TL 9000 is a common set of quality system requirements
and metrics designed specifically for the telecom
industry, encompassing ISO 9001 and other best practices
covering hardware, software and services. The TL 9000
requirement strategy is threefold:
· To eliminate overlapping requirements.
· To eliminate inconsequential requirements.
· To select "performance impacting"
TL 9000 goal is to meet the quality requirement needs
of the telcos.
9000 defines the telecommunications quality management
system requirements for the design, development, production,
delivery, installation, and maintenance of products
and services. Included in TL 9000 are cost and performance-based
measurements of reliability and quality performance
of the products and services. TL 9000 is based on
the following sources of quality standards: ISO9000-3,
ISO9001-1994, ISO 12207, SEI CMM, CSQP GR 179,1252,1202,
RQMS GR929 and existing report cards. In addition
to ISO 9001, 520 requirements were considered and
finally only 83 were selected.
9000 metrics is the most useful product from the forum.
It is unique to the TL 9000 quality system, providing
quality feedback data in terms of best, worst and
average. This is useful for both telcos and their
suppliers. Telcos use it to measure and compare, while
suppliers use it for decision making and pushing for
continuous improvement. QuEST ensures that when the
metrics results are published, the suppliers are not
identified at all. Nor is there any kind of supplier
ranking. Hence the metrics data cannot be used to
9000 metrics provides the industry benchmarks, thereby
identifying improvement opportunities for every telco
and its suppliers. TL 9000 addresses telecommunications
needs for reliability designed in, life cycle management
through planning, customer-supplier communications
enhanced and customer-supplier quality improvement
programs. The TL 9000 standards are being translated
from English into Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese,
French, German, Italian and Swedish.
benefits of TL 9000 Certification are:
· Improved service to customers.
· Enhanced customer-supplier relationships.
· Obtain comparable data.
· Standardize requirements and metrics.
· Best practice quality system is in place.
forum's strategic plan is as follows:
· Improve measurable industry quality performance.
· Establish world class forum infrastructure.
· Develop and publish TL 9000 handbooks
· Companies registered to TL 9000
· Grow forum membership
increase the forum membership, QuEST has been organizing
a number of conferences: Brussels in May 1999, Paris
in May 2000, Yokohama in June 2000 and London in October
9000 registration may be granted to a company, an
organizational unit/facility or a limited defined
product line. Scope of registration may be for hardware,
software, services or any combination thereof.
9000 companies with registered sites include ADTRAN,
Alcatel USA, Complas, Fujitsu Network Communications,
Lucent Technologies, Marconi, Access Systems, Motorola,
NEC, Nortel Networks and Pirelli Cables and Systems.
9000 metrics cover the following areas:
· Problem reports
· Response time
· On-time delivery
· Systems outage
· Return Rates
· Software update quality
· Release application aborts
· Corrective & Feature Patch Quality
· Service quality
Problem Reports Metric is the number of reports per
system (or other unit) per month. Problem Reports
are defined as customer originated reports that are
indicative of the quality of the product delivered.
For hardware and software products, they examine the
severity, i.e critical, major or minor.
Report Fix Response Time Metrics
Response time metrics measure the percentage of hardware
and software problems fixed in one month and in six
months. For services, the measurement is the percentage
of problems fixed in time. This helps determine the
overall responsiveness of a supplier to major and
minor problems. Critical problems are not included
as they are worked on a high priority basis.
On Time Delivery matrices measure suppliers' performance
in meeting customers' needs for product delivery and
end-customer expectations. It determines percentage
of delivery based on customer request date.
System Outage Metric for each product category determines
annualized outage frequency, annualized downtime,
annualized supplier attributable outage frequency
and annualized supplier attributable downtime. System
outage applies to both hardware and software, and
is a measure of complete loss of functionality of
partial or total system.
Return Rate Metric for each product category determines
the first year percentage returns.
Software Update Quality Metric is the cumulative percentage
of defective updates for each of the three latest
most dominant releases for each product category.
The objective is to evaluate the level of defective
software in order to minimize the associated customer
Release Application Aborts Metric is a percentage
of systems with aborts for each of the three latest
most dominant releases for each product category.
The objective is to minimize the service provider's
risk of aborts when applying a software release.
and Feature Patch Quality
Patch Quality Metric is the percentage of defective
patches per month for each product category. The objective
is to minimize the service provider's risk of failure.
· Service Quality Metric is specific to service
the product category:
· Percentage of conforming installation audits.
· Percentage of successful maintenance visits
· Percentage of successful repairs.
· Percentage of conforming call center calls
resolved within the agreed upon time.
· Percentage of support service transactions
without a defect.
objective is to provide information to evaluate and
improve the service product.
nine metrics can help a telecom equipment vendor and
service provider benchmark their products and services
versus their competition, and take actions accordingly
to achieve market leadership in their chosen segment.
Kamat, Country Manager-India, Accton Technology Corporation,
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org