I recently had several one-on-one meetings with SVM professionals at two Forrester SVM forums — in Vegas late May and Paris mid-June.

One major pain point was mentioned by a number of our clients: Why are those so-called global service providers so bad at working with local PTTs to get circuits upgraded? And what can we do about it?

This question has never gone entirely away during my 15 years at Forrester working with IT/SVM professionals. However, during the past 18 months, it's being raised regularly, and irrespective of who the client's global telecom provider happens to be, including all of the big four (AT&T, BT, Orange, Verizon). Additionally, this is unlikely to change as the larger operators increasingly automate their customer service and managed-WAN monitoring and ticketing systems and also try to impose them on foreign operators. It should be possible, however, to improve predictability about change management timelines and new service lead times by working either via your firm's local IT and SVM team or, alternatively, with a local telecom agent third-party contracted to work with local exchange carriers in an important market for your business.

Countries that tend to be more problematic than others and often have to be dealt with in one-off solutions include Brazil and India, and even sometimes Australia, Canada, and the Nordic markets. In these markets, direct contracting or employing local agents will at least help get the new circuits installed within a reasonable time frame. Additionally, as many companies want to migrate off nxE1/T1 TDM access onto Ethernet access, it's important to avoid expecting that Ethernet access can be implemented as "quickly" as a new E1/T1 circuit or upgrading from one to multiple E1/T1s. In some countries, PTTs work much better through a direct relationship with enterprise customers than they do through third parties. Let your local businesses and partners (suppliers in particular) help guide expectations and sourcing approaches for telecom. Also ensure that the business understands why you plan to place orders for new services and upgrades sometimes long before they'll need it — even paying for it for a few months ahead of using it. It's so they won't experience revenue-impacting delays such as opening a new plant, etc. You have a choice: Either assume potentially very long lead times for connecting operational sites in a new market outside North America and Western Europe (e.g., 9 months) and work with one or a preferred global network operator or integrator, or, alternatively, involve your local IT/network staff or a local agent to contract directly with the PTT in markets where your global provider appears to be making excuses or where it's very important to make certain the data WAN and other telecom services are ready before your scheduled opening or application-live date. Afterwards you can decide who will do the vendor management with the PTT — in house, local agent, or your global service provider.