5 critical lessons for implementing Cisco IPT Unified Communications

Having recently completed a site relocation project for a global investment bank for their UK Headquarter, specifically focusing on Cisco LAN and IP Telephony elements, I consider the relevance of the activity worth sharing; elaborating specifically on what lessons can be learnt, both positive and constructive, that can help me and my fellow PMs better approach similar deployments.

Generally, the project has been considered a success, both internally within Orange – here in the UK and in New York where the global account team is based – and, more importantly, within the customer’s senior management teams. Ever since Orange was made aware of the requirements, the schedule expectations were extremely aggressive – the move had to happen within the first two weeks of January 2011 - with the first orders being placed by the customer quite late in the process during the first week of November. With Cisco manufacturing standard lead-times averaging 6 weeks from order placement on the vendor to delivery to Orange - not to mention the staging, installation and migration pre-requisites to the move dates - the pressure was on from the very start!

As part of the project management structure we adhere to for all projects at Orange, project closure not only means producing the necessary acceptance documentation but also facilitating a lesson learnt workshop with all available key stakeholders. This allows all parties to learn which activities led to successful outcomes, or where either Orange or the customer could improve processes, to allow for a more successful engagement next time around. It is particularly useful with the customer in question as our relationship is fairly fresh but with the potential to provide consultative led endeavours on an increasingly larger scale as we progress through 2011 and hopefully further.

I have therefore summarised the key (top 5) lessons learnt below that can hopefully be understood from a generic stand-point and perhaps applied to alternative but similar Cisco unified communication solution design and deployments:

1. Customer financial approval for budget spend was not agreed up front leading to a delay in order placement for hardware. Lesson learnt: Customer’s internal processes need to be streamlined if such aggressive schedule expectations are going to be common practice.

2. Lack of visibility of customer’s technology roadmap and upcoming infrastructure moves. Lesson learnt: It has been agreed with the customer that more visibility is a requirement moving forward if we both want the relationship to succeed; ensuring projects are better resourced and the solutions carry far less risk in being provisioned on time.

3. Implementation & migration activities performed very well without issue or delay. Lessons learnt: Correctly skilled implementation team who appeared well prepared through good project planning and communication throughout the initial phases of the project lifecycle.

4. Vendor hardware order processing well managed. Lessons learnt: The Orange and customer relationships with their respective Cisco account teams are in very good standing and therefore, standard and executive expedites were accepted by Cisco manufacturing, ensuring hardware was available sooner than initially anticipated.

5. Scope management process well defined. Lessons learnt: Project scope was well defined and clearly baselined allowing for change controls to be easily handled throughout the project lifecycle. As an output of the project, the scope statement created for this endeavour has been approved the customer by as a template document - a ‘deliverables tick-list’ - for future projects between the two parties.

Hopefully you can draw on certain comparisons from the above lessons and immediately apply them to your own projects; assisting you in the successful delivery of your own unified communication solution deployments.


Nicolas Jacquey
Samuel Whitcombe

I am an ambitious project manager from a Professional Services background with 13 years' experience of managing the delivery of telecommunications solutions while conforming to strict project management methodologies.