OSS/BSS: Recognize the Warning Signs

People, processes and OSS/BSS are the foundation of telcos worldwide. Given the dizzyingly fast technological advancements and the urgency of change brought about by AI, stagnating revenue growth and the pressing need to transition from telcos to techcos, the imperative of making this foundation as solid as possible has never been greater.

In this article, we’ll look at one of the cornerstones - OSS and BSS. We’ll define them and explain why some communication service providers (CSPs) are planning to replace them. And, we’ll give you a list of the warning signs that indicate potential issues with these systems. Additionally, we’ll provide tips on how to recognize an OSS/BSS stack that will make CSPs better able to support their people and processes for future business needs.

What is OSS/BSS?

In the telecommunications industry, OSS stands for "Operations Support System". OSS refers to a set of software applications and systems designed to manage and support the daily operations of a telecommunications network. These systems handle various tasks such as network inventory management, service provisioning, network monitoring, fault management, performance management and billing. Essentially, OSS ensures that the network operates efficiently, services are delivered reliably and customers receive the quality of service they have come to expect.

BSS stands for "Business Support System". BSS encompasses software applications and systems that handle customer-facing operations and support business functions within a communications service provider (CSP). These functions typically include customer management, billing and invoicing, product catalog management, order management, revenue management and customer support systems. BSS plays a crucial role in managing customer relationships, facilitating billing processes, offering and provisioning services, and ultimately ensuring the profitability and efficiency of telecommunications businesses.

Why are CSPs replacing their OSS/BSS?

The telecom industry was one of the early adopters of digital technology going as far back as the 1990s. In fact, telcos have enabled digital transformation in other industries with their investments in technology and interoperability supporting a profound change in information and capital flows through the global economy.

However, according to a BSG survey from 2021, only 22% of telcos successfully executed a digital transformation themselves, which is significantly below the cross-industry average. Perhaps precisely because of the early implementation of software systems that have since been constantly built upon in a “Frankenstein manner”, many communication service providers are now left with OSS/BSS stacks designed as monoliths to handle a very different set of use cases. 

Ironically, many of these enablers of digital transformation have yet to see its fruits. With heavy network investments, much slower growth and competing OTT players perfecting the growth game, CSPs are forced to consider changing their business models and looking for revenue elsewhere while making cost reductions in key systems. This requires OSS/BSS solutions that are agile, scalable and versatile and have lower operational costs than their incumbent systems.

This is why many CSPs are looking to replatform their old systems with nimbler, more advanced stacks that will enable the growth, lower operational costs, speed of change and quality of digital service that OTT players have set high standards for.

The pressure is high for CSPs to make the right choice when it comes to a new OSS/BSS solution. But what red flags should they look out for when considering the overall fitness of an infrastructure? That’s what we’ll discuss next.


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OSS/BSS Warning Signs

1. Complexity

While OSS/BSS systems are designed to automate various operational processes, the complexity of these systems can hinder effective workflow automation. Complex workflows spanning multiple systems may be difficult to orchestrate and monitor, leading to bottlenecks, redundancies and errors in process execution.

Moreover, inefficient workflows require more time, resources and manual intervention to complete tasks. This can lead to higher operational costs due to increased labor expenses, longer processing times and the need for additional resources to compensate for inefficiencies.


There is also the risk of poor customer experience — inefficient workflows can result in delays in service delivery, billing errors and inconsistent customer interactions. In today's competitive telco market, providing a seamless and responsive customer experience is crucial for retaining customers and maintaining market share.

Tip

Look for OSS/BSS solutions that are designed to streamline and simplify processes, as well as customer experience.

2. Lack of Scalability

Telco networks and services experience continuous growth in terms of subscribers, data usage and traffic volume. Scalable software solutions can handle this growth seamlessly, ensuring that the network infrastructure and operational systems can accommodate increasing demands without compromising performance or reliability.

On the other hand, infrastructures that haven’t been built to scale may cause issues such as system slowdowns, performance issues during peak usage and difficulties in adding new services or users.

Additionally, the telco industry undergoes rapid technological advancements, including the introduction of new communication standards, network technologies and service offerings. Scalable software solutions can easily adapt to these changes, allowing telco operators to incorporate new technologies, expand offerings and stay competitive in the market.

Tip

Look for flexible and scalable OSS/BSS solutions to accommodate growth and changing demands.

3. Non-Standards-Based

Standards-based solutions such as those defined by organizations like the TM Forum ensure interoperability between different OSS/BSS components and systems. This interoperability allows telcos to integrate diverse network elements, applications and services from multiple vendors.


Standards-based OSS/BSS infrastructures promote vendor neutrality, enabling telcos to choose best-of-breed solutions from various vendors without being locked into proprietary technologies. This fosters healthy competition among vendors, encourages innovation and gives telcos the flexibility to select solutions that best meet their specific requirements and budget constraints.

Tip

Look for an OSS/BSS solution that is open and standards-based.


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3. Poor Data Quality and Integration

Much like any other, the telco space relies heavily on data-driven decision-making. High-quality data ensures that decisions regarding network optimization, service provisioning, customer management and revenue assurance are based on accurate and reliable information. Conversely, poor data quality can lead to incorrect decisions, inefficiencies and financial losses for telco operators.


Integrated and high-quality data serves as a foundation for advanced analytics and business intelligence. By leveraging data analytics techniques such as predictive modeling, machine learning and data visualization, telcos can gain valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends and operational performance, enabling data-driven decision-making and strategic planning.

Tip

Look for OSS/BSS stacks that have been designed on the premise that data has the highest priority.

4. Limited Automation

By streamlining manual, time-consuming tasks and processes, automation increases operational efficiency, leading to cost savings and improved resource utilization. Automated workflows speed up service provisioning and activation, which reduces delays and improves the all-important time-to-market for new offerings. If it’s taking weeks or even months to launch new offerings, that’s a definite warning sign.

Additionally, automation enables self-service options and personalized interactions, which have practically become a given for the discerning, digitally savvy customer of today. 

By freeing up human resources and fostering innovation, automation empowers telcos to focus on strategic initiatives and drive business growth.

Tip

Look for BSS/OSS offerings with advanced levels of automation.

5. Inadequate Security Standards

Cybersecurity is paramount in telco software solutions to protect sensitive data, prevent service disruptions and preserve customer trust. Telco software stores vast amounts of customer information, including billing records and network configurations. Robust cybersecurity measures are essential to safeguard this data from unauthorized access, ensuring customer privacy and operational integrity.

Additionally, cyberattacks on telco software can disrupt critical services, leading to downtime and financial losses. For example, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack targeting a telco's network management software can overwhelm network resources, rendering services inaccessible to customers. Furthermore, compliance with regulatory requirements, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is essential for telco operators to avoid penalties and maintain consumer trust. By prioritizing cybersecurity, telco operators demonstrate their commitment to protecting customer data and ensuring the reliability and security of their services, fostering long-term relationships and sustaining business growth in a digital age.

Tip

Look for BSS/OSS stacks that encompass robust security measures to protect sensitive data, maintain customer trust and comply with regulations.


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Conclusion

A core part of every telco, the OSS/BSS infrastructure influences everything from the very mechanics of connectivity to telcos’ ability to evolve into something more than connectivity providers. As telecommunications companies navigate technological changes and the call for digital reinvention, being able to recognize the warning signs of obsolescence within their BSS/OSS stacks and be technologically proactive has become vital.

To achieve the nimbleness, operational cost savings, scalability and transformational ability they need to survive and thrive, CSPs are looking for modern, advanced solutions to replace their legacy systems.  After all, in the time of digitalization, maintaining a competitive edge is not merely pragmatic – it is a testament to organizational resilience and foresight.