Achieve Cisco Audit Certification Easier by Automating your Processes with PSA Software
Successfully navigating a Cisco Silver, Cisco Gold or Cisco Master Partner audit is a time consuming, resource intensive and potentially scary process, because of how important those certifications are to a Cisco Partner’s business.
More and more end customers place a heavy emphasis on Cisco certifications when considering which Cisco partner to work with.
Download the Cisco Audit Compliance Scorecard to help identify problem areas in your business processes to help you pass your next Cisco audit more easily.
Based on my experience as recent CEO of a large Cisco Gold / Cisco Master Partner, I have identified five ways to make passing a Cisco audit much easier. Some of these suggestions go beyond the audit requirements, but it was always our goal (and I’m sure it is your goal, too) to pass with flying colors, not just “squeak by” the Cisco audit criteria:
Cisco Project Management Requirement
Seamless and Accurate Handoffs of Project Data between Multiple Systems
In the Cisco Audit Pre-Sales requirements, part of Cisco Lifecycle Services: Prepare, Plan, Design Implement (PPDI), the audit team isn’t just interested in confirming the project management process by which you deliver projects. They want to see the end-to-end business process including how you estimate, quote, and coordinate the delivery of equipment, services and support to your customers profitably.
This is very hard to demonstrate unless you have seamless and accurate handoffs of project data between multiple systems:
- BOM configuration tool like Netformix and Cisco price book,
- Sales opportunity and quotation management ,
- Sales order: fulfillment & invoicing management, and
- Project management.
To achieve accurate project data, it is ideal to do this using one automated end-to-end business process system.
Cisco Resource Capacity Management
In the Cisco Audit Pre-Sales requirements, part of Cisco Lifecycle Services: Prepare, Plan, Design Implement (PPDI), Cisco requires that project plans must include detailed resource management. In order to pass your Cisco audit, you must be able to:
- Allocate qualified resources by skill level and
- Monitor and manage labor resource utilization over the course of your projects.
A generic bucket of 200 forecasted hours is useless for resource/capacity planning. In order to perform proper resource/capacity planning, you need to be able to forecast based on the detailed labor estimate the quote was based on by specific resources required (design, project management, installation, training, etc). As the quote scope changes, those resource forecasts need to be automatically updated. This requires a direct link between the labor estimate and the quote and to be able to compare forecasted resources with current labor resource utilization.
Cisco Incident Management Requirement
Incident Management, Computer-based Service Call Tracking and Service Desk Process
In order to effectively handle incidents and trouble tickets, the first step is automating and tracking incidents and escalations. The ideal incident management business process ties the trouble ticket directly to which equipment is under service contract and the SLA commitments. This allows Help Desk / Service Desk personnel to immediately know which equipment is under contract and the committed service level without having to reference other screens or documents.
One of the most overlooked areas here is managing the RMA’s, returns and additions of equipment between service contract renewal dates. This should all be tracked as part of the same automated business process.
Cisco Change Management Requirement
Track Internal & External Changes and Link Directly to Original Sales Order
Another Cisco audit requirement is Change Management. A change management process should track “external” changes (customer scope changes) and “internal” changes (additional cost items) as separate items. Most importantly, these changes should be linked directly to the original sales order document for invoicing purposes.
If instead you independently make changes to the sales order document, the audit trail (between forecasted quote margins and real project margins) is broken, making it impossible to cycle any implementation lessons learned back to the quoting process. It also makes it impossible to identify the impact of change orders on overall project profitability.
The ideal automated business process would track the impact of change orders on overall project profitability and include them automatically in the sales order invoicing process.
Cisco Continual Service Improvement Requirements
Gathering, Measuring and Analyzing Data and Converting into Lessons Learned
In order to optimize service delivery, the Cisco audit requires continual service improvement. In order to engage in continuous improvement you need to look at:
- Defining what should be measured,
- Defining what can be measured,
- Gathering the data,
- Processing the data,
- Analyzing the data,
- Presenting and using the information, and
- Implementing corrective actions.
The truth is, many of the Cisco audit criteria can be technically met by automating tasks via disconnected software solutions, but in order to engage in proper continuous improvement you really need to look at automating the end to end business processes and eliminating as many hand offs or duplicate entry steps as possible. Only then can you measure, analyze and cycle lessons learned in Implementation back into Sales, Support lessons learned back into Implementation and Delivery back into planning and forecasting.
Focus on Passing Cisco Audit and Being a Leader in Quality
Our focus when working to pass our Cisco audit was only partially on the audit compliance itself. We were much more interested in demonstrating to Cisco that our company was committed to being a leader in quality standards, technology learning and following industry best practices. That commitment had a positive impact on our relationship with Cisco. The Promys PSA software was a big part of our ability to easily document and demonstrate that commitment.
Reference: 2011 Cisco Audit criteria