Elevating Our Customer Experience by Adapting Internally

Cathy De La Garza
Mon, January 24, 2022, 9:18 AM

Customers do not want to wait for their services to be delivered – and at Uniti, we don’t think you should have to. We create value through our people and our solutions, but the foundation of “The Uniti Difference” is our unwavering desire to provide the best experiences for our customers.

So, when we recently discovered an opportunity to improve our speed-to-delivery by removing workflow bottlenecks, we got to work. And in the process, we shaved months off our delivery times to better serve you.

Getting to the Root of Our Process Inefficiencies

As you might imagine, the process of delivering our services is complex and comes with many dependencies. When we deliver multiple services across various locations, we must execute every step in a specified order, in the quickest amount of time, to keep the entire project running smoothly to meet our customers’ needs.

Previously, some Uniti teams used a quasi-project management tool created through workarounds in other systems, but this solution couldn’t keep up with our growth. Without a tool sophisticated enough to properly manage dependencies between backbone builds, backbone engineering, installation and construction, ring topographies, multiple sites, and other project complexities, we knew our teams would encounter obstacles.

To deliver services more efficiently and effectively, we needed a streamlined project management solution that would organize repeatable and automated processes into configurations to address specific customer needs, orders, and timeframes.

Equipping Our PMs With the Right Tool

At Uniti, we take the customer experience seriously, so we knew we couldn’t just find any solution – we needed the right solution.

We explored integrations with our existing systems using API calls, but the risk of broken integrations and corrupted data were too great with API calls versus native integration. We then considered building a solid framework for the in-house development of a project management tool, but in-house development would likely take years to complete. We even explored vendor-supplied solutions, but found these solutions lacked the customization required to properly manage our organization’s intricacies.

Finally, we found an ideal solution that seamlessly integrated with Salesforce and offered the flexibility to make changes on the fly. We partnered with the team at Work-Relay to identify and solve process gaps and replace our pseudo project management tool with their superior project management system to better maintain interdependent processes and business operations.

Implementing the New Project Management Platform

To get started, our project management team set up a typical workflow for orders and walked through the details of each required implementation and delivery task, as well as who’s responsible for them.

Using this intelligence, the team defined eight commonly used, interdependent objects that needed to link together to track a project from start to finish. These objects were used as building blocks, able to be moved around to create effective project management workflows for large and complex accounts across Uniti’s Internet, Ethernet and Dark Fiber service deliveries.

From this research, Uniti and Work-Relay conceived the Multi-Order Tool.

Today, Uniti leverages Work-Relay’s tool in both basic, one-to-one order deliveries, as well as complex, multi-service and multi-site projects. We also use it to link together different orders and outside dependencies, such as central office locations and third-party off-nets.

“Above all else, we needed to manage complex interdependencies, effectively managing how a change in one aspect of the project impacted all of the other objects,” said Karen M. Dias, Director of Wireless Service Delivery at Uniti.

“Work-Relay allows us to do this. It has been a 100% game-changer in our ability to establish a project completion timeframe and complete projects on time. Basically, it lets us create a plan and stick to it. This is one reason we are growing so quickly.”

In the past, Uniti analyzed project data manually through filtered Salesforce reports. Now, Work-Relay is used to assess data at each defined object and dependency, and the tool tracks expected completion dates. Changes made to individual tasks are reflected in the overall project completion date, and project assignees are notified if dependencies begin to fall behind.

Transforming Small Wins into Big Results

With Work-Relay’s powerful project management tool in place, we accelerated our mean time to deliver circuits to enterprise and wholesale customers. Originally, it took us 120-150 days, and today, we deliver circuits on average in sub-90 days.

"We are always looking for ways to be more efficient for our customers, and Work-Relay is just one of the many ways we’re working each day to provide you with the best solutions in a timely manner,” explained Cathy De La Garza, Senior Vice President of Order Management & Service Delivery at Uniti.

“We intend to use these project management tools ubiquitously across the entire organization. As we gradually refine our processes, we will continue to elevate our customers’ experiences.”