Simplifying Global Voice Operations

December 9, 2011 - 0 Comments

Cisco IT has deployed voice infrastructure around the world in order to handle our 1+ million voice calls per day with high levels of quality and reliability. We used to manage this infrastructure with four separate regional teams: one managing the Western part of North America, another managing Eastern North America and Latin America, the third Europe/Middle East/Africa, and the fourth Asia/Pacific. But we found that this regional organization led to inconsistent operations because the regional teams had different ideas on how things should be done and they applied our corporate standards in different ways.

Our early lack of global consistency led to inefficiency in our support operations.   We would have people from different time zones trying to help troubleshoot problems and be unable to support an unfamiliar configuration.  And this meant that our regional teams had to provide around-the-clock support by themselves – which led to sleepless nights and frayed nerves.
Yet there are regional differences that we have to take into account, such as different rules and ways to handle emergency services calls.  India and the Middle East in particular required regionally unique configurations to comply with regulations related to call routing.

Over time we evolved to a single global voice and video operations team to drive efficiencies at a global level. This global team built and adopted more complete standards for our configurations.  These take into account the necessary local or regional variations when they deploy company-wide standards for voice system design, implementation, and operations.

This global approach also allows us to provide on-call support on a 24/7, follow-the-sun basis for solving priority problems. Our on-call employees are located in the US, Europe and Asia, with two employees on duty at any given time: one  employee for supporting voice and video platforms, and one for providing  contact center application and scripting support. Our follow-the-sun model means employees are on call only during their normal business hours–no more being awakened in the middle of the night to handle an urgent problem. Yet we can still call in additional off-hours personnel to help if a situation needs more resources.

This is a vast improvement over our previous regional practice which resulted in up to 10 people on call globally at all hours to support our different services. We have made this reduction even as the scale of our infrastructure has grown, especially with the addition of room-based and desktop video systems.  We’ve saved Cisco some support costs, which lets us invest more of our time in keeping up with more complex voice and video technology.  And we have reduced the number of late-night hours our engineers have to work – which makes it easier for us to come to work in the mornings.

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