Development of the Amdocs Microservices360 (MS360) deployment kit was running three months late. The Amdocs AWS team suggested an acceleration event—a three-day AWS Experience-based Acceleration Party to kick-start the project. This successfully streamlined decision-making and moved the team to agile working.
Amdocs AWS Experience-based Acceleration Party Reduces Months of Work into Days
Sometimes it pays to approach a problem from a completely different angle. Telecoms specialist Amdocs signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2018 to move its business support solutions into the cloud. However, by late 2020 it was clear that part of the project wasn’t running smoothly.
A particular issue was the Amdocs Microservices360 (MS360) deployment kit (MPDK), which was running three months behind schedule. MPDK is a way for Amdocs customers to automate the provision and configuration of MS360—the core platform for Amdocs CES20 a part of amdocsONE, the company’s customer relationship and revenue software for telecoms and media providers. To get over this hurdle, the Amdocs AWS team suggested an Experience-based Acceleration (EBA) event—a three-day coding party to kickstart the project. The plan was to break the project into manageable modules, embrace more agile working methods, and challenge the complex and lengthy decision-making process that was slowing progress. It was also an opportunity to add domain experts from AWS and Amdocs.
Breaking the Deadlock with Innovation
An Experience-based Acceleration workshop can accelerate decision making, create more streamlined processes, and change how people work. A key objective of the Amdocs workshop was to reinvigorate the working culture of a team that was suffering from lockdown fatigue. Each day had a fun activity, such as a quiz or competition for best T-shirt, costume, or hat. Although teams were all remote because of COVID-19, pizzas and beer were delivered to every participant on the last day. There was a separate virtual meeting room for fun social activities and for catching up with the progress of other teams. “Although I liked the idea, I definitely had my doubts and was nervous as the day approached,” says Eyal Reuven, Amdocs MS360 platform line manager at Amdocs NewTech R&D. “I’m not the type to dress up and do silly things but it was like jumping into cold water and we all did it and it created the buzz that we needed.”
“The Acceleration workshop completely changed how we worked… It changed not just our relationships with our co-workers but also with the people at AWS we work with, and the customers who were involved too. It was like we’ve all been on a journey together, it’s opened a different level to our relationship.”
- Eyal Reuven, Amdocs MS360 Platform Line Manager, Amdocs NewTech R&D
Months of Work Achieved in Just Three Days
The party was a breakthrough. The team achieved “months” of work progress in just three days. By the end of the second day Reuven said the teams had to rethink their targets because so much had already been achieved. In three days the five teams—15 Amdocs engineers and eight AWS staff—integrated and validated three existing modules: Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL, and Amazon Elasticsearch Service.
The teams created and integrated five completely new modules: Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka (Amazon MSK), Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), Amazon Route 53, and AWS Certificate Manager Private Certificate Authority. The Amdocs and AWS engineers also worked on improving the continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline for developers, and designed and implemented the top-orchestrator module. The teams even managed to implement ten small functional enhancements that were suggested by customers during the event itself.
Preparation is Everything
Half the success came from the month of preparation before the actual event, setting expectations and getting into the right mindset. Amdocs staff were placed into teams and chose its own leader. Amdocs talked to customers beforehand to decide what parts of the project to tackle. AWS then provided the right team of experts to deal with both process and technical blockages based on Amdocs’ priorities.
“The Acceleration workshop completely changed how we worked. We were all on different levels of lockdown, there wasn’t much day-to-day interaction between team members, and we never turned our cameras on. But these three days were different. We turned on our out-of-office emails, a senior manager gave a talk to make clear how important these days were,” says Reuven. “It changed not just our relationships with our co-workers but also with the people at AWS we work with, and the customers who were involved too. It was like we’ve all been on a journey together, it’s opened a different level to our relationship,” he adds. While he already knew most of the people from AWS, Reuven says the event gave him a proper understanding of their roles and skills. It also changed relationships with customers who saw their requests implemented in just a few days.
A Helpful Tool to Transform Operations and Culture
The event was so successful that Amdocs has already run another party, and now includes some aspects of the EBA into its day-to-day business processes. Once a month, it sets up a virtual social break-out room for staff to have “water-cooler” conversations, and it plans to run an EBA party type event at least twice a year. Other Amdocs business units outside of R&D have already run similar acceleration parties to focus teams and speed up cultural change. Reuven says the key to success is to keep the party to the right size so people can engage in the fun activities that did so much to build the atmosphere of the experience—"keep it small and keep it fun” is his advice.
For more than 30 years, Amdocs solutions, which include BSS, OSS, network control, optimization, and virtualization, coupled with professional and managed services, have accelerated business for its customers by reducing costs and improving customer experience. Amdocs is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner.
Published July 2021