March 15, 2011 | Mark Paradies

Using TapRooT to Improve Quality & Network Reliability in the Telecommunications Industry

In 1995, BellSouth Telecommunications noticed an increase in the number of service interruptions or outages caused by procedural errors. A special Quality Action Team was formed to work with an outside company that was hired to investigate the reason for the increased outages. I was a member of the Quality Action Team and worked for six months with this team and the outside company looking into the procedural incidents. When the outside company reported their findings, I believed that the report missed several items. It was incomplete. Several other members of the Quality Action Team had similar feelings. They thought the team should do more. I began to talk with several people in the industry and found out about System Improvements and the work they had been doing in the field of procedural incidents.

I contacted System Improvements, got information about the TapRooT System, and convinced my boss that both he and I should attend one of their courses. Once we attended the course, we decided that TapRooT would help BellSouth truly identify our procedural problems. We had several Quality Action Team members from each of the Regional Technical Support Systems Groups to attend the 2-day class.
Immediately after this class the information began to change about the causes of the outages. The Analyst doing the interviews had new tools and, for the first time, BellSouth began to hear about problems not mentioned in the report.
The TapRooT System proved to be such a big help that BellSouth bought a license for the TapRooT System and trained all 98 Analysts in the Regional Technical Support Groups.
Since then BellSouth has made changes in the databases associated with service interruptions and outages to include information gained from a TapRooT System investigation. We then use that information to look for and solve network reliability issues.

We continue to use TapRooT to identify problems and improve performance. And the results have been outstanding.
For example, in the first ten months of 1997, BellSouth has found 10 vendor document errors (which deal with procedures) and 14 internal procedure errors. Since implementing TapRooT in 1996, we have cut the procedural incident rate by 12% leading to improved network reliability.
The TapRooT System has given BellSouth the tools needed to correctly review and write procedures as well as report the incidents to upper management. The TapRooT System has also given BellSouth the knowledge to write reports in a more clear and precise manner (including what information should be in the reports to upper management).
I believe the TapRooT System has been a complete solution for BellSouth from finding “root causes” to developing fixes to reporting of the causes (and the fixes) that we find. This helps us in our quest to provide outstanding local and long distance telephone service to our customers. Just how good is our service? Well, in 1996 and 1997 we received the J.D. Power customer satisfaction award for having the best local residential telephone service. Perhaps it is a coincidence that we started using TapRooT® in 1996. However, I think it is more a reflection of the best companies will use the best tools for improving performance.

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