Michael Buckalew

Michael Buckalew

Work History

Work History
Jan 2006 - Sep 2008

Senior Director Operations

Netrake/AudioCodes

Responsible for IT/IS, Customer Service, Manufacturing, Procurement, Physical Security, Final Systems Assembly and Test, Material Management, Shipping and Receiving, Professional Services, Partner Management, Trials/New Product Introduction, Customer interface, Disaster Planning and Recovery, Software Delivery, Repair and Return, Training (Internal and External), Program/Project Management.

Created Technical Support and organized a newly created Operations team of IT, Manufacturing, Facilities Management and Security.

When I arrived there were no manufacturing work flows. We were single sourced with our contract manufacturer and lead times were 16 weeks on many critical parts and operating costs were very high. Within IT/IS there were few quality processes or performance tracking mechanisms and the team was operating as a separate entity with no cohesive approach to IT or IS. The equipment was old and there were no back-up or restoration mechanisms in place. Trouble tickets were handled on an as come basis and the escalation procedures were outdated and not followed closely. Customer Service had few quality processes or performance tracking mechanisms and the teams were operating with no standards based response or performance objectives. Customer service interruptions were going unreported and no follow-up was being performed.

What do Michael's colleagues say ?

Accomplishments

  • Created Infrastructure: Evaluated and selected systems with my service and IT team that would scale and provide the best in class backbone network we’d need to connect to the customer’s data network. (CRM, Servers, IP Telephony, firewalls, time tracking tools, billing mechanisms, metrics collectors).
  • Inbound Improvements: Based upon user feedback, I established a Tier 1 Help Desk, created Quality Assurance, and established self help platforms. I established feedback methods for the customer.
  • Standards Based Service: Created a plan to achieve TL9000 and Telcordia compliancy on critical service deliverables
  • SLA’s: Evaluated our Service Level agreements and created a plan to increase compliancy.
  • Service Revenue: I reviewed and corrected the service revenue and professional services pricing and descriptions. Increased revenue 30% the first year.
  • Partner Programs: Worked with our Tier 1 partners on work flows and trouble tracking methods, created weekly calls or as required. Created priority lists, action registers, and escalation methods.
  • Work Flows: I edited the customer service guides to reflect standards based improvements, upgraded the 24x7 call out procedures and improved the call back times for after hours.
  • CRM Upgrade: Trained on and mapped processes. Globally converted to an Oracle database.
  • Improved tracking: Hardware & Software Baselines Established. Tracking servers created for customer baseline identity.
  • Quality Improvement: Gate/Handoff Processes written to improve new product introduction.
  • Improved Delivery: Software delivery and Software updating method improved to reduce problem reports.
  • Improved product: Root Cause Analysis process was created.
  • Introducing products: Project/Program Management checklists created to improve the customer experience with software and hardware introduction.
  • Team Building: Set-up goals and objectives as a team with the Directors and Managers for improvement.
  • More Options: I evaluated and qualified several small contract manufacturing facilities in the area that excelled in quick turn, low volume builds to augment our Tier 1 contract manufacturer and asked them to build a number of simple assemblies to lower our lead times
  • RoHS: Created a plan to achieve environmental compliancy to enable sales to EU countries. All parts were reviewed, certified.
  • Competitive Bids: Evaluated our turnkey Contract Manufacturer and based upon the need to increase margin, reduce cost and cycle time, I established additional relationships with several Tier 1 manufacturers and got competitive bids.
  • Cycle times: I established relationships with distributors to enable us to acquire material more quickly to reduce cycle time. I “bonded” material in advance that had excessive lead times working with several distributors. The result was an improved delivery cycle, (16 weeks down to 8 weeks), and cost reduction.
  • International Consolidation: Working with my global manufacturing counterparts, we evaluated and selected turnkey manufacturing facilities in Israel, Mexico, China, and the US to further reduce cost. (We selected a single manufacturer with global facilities).
  • Explosive Growth: My teams scaled to meet the demand of quarter over quarter growth in the product moving from 3m per quarter of material to 15m per quarter.
  • Reduced Cost: Lowered the cost from 14K/18K per existing system to 8K per system for the legacy product, introduced a 1U, Carrier Grade, NEBs compliant, off the shelf system from Intel for less than 6K to the field. Selected the distributor, wrote the memorandum of understanding, and reviewed the contract and set-up work instructions and branding requirements.
  • Database Conversion: Trained and mapped processes. Globally converted to an Oracle database.
  • Improved Forecasting: Made adjustments to the Manufacturing Database to improve predictability of Sales Forecasts, Shortages, Delinquent Materials, Supplier Response, Non Conforming Material, and Material Handling
  • Standards: Standards based Operations guidelines created based upon ISO and Telcordia guidelines.
  • Shipping/Receiving: Created versions of handbooks for Department of Commerce guidelines for import and export of material, including looking up companies and persons that might be on watch lists. Qualified a prime and back-up international shipper.
  • Security Watch Lists: Wrote a handbook and guidelines for Department of Homeland Security requirements for international shipping, receiving. Successfully passed multiple audits by each organization. (plus Sarbanes/Oxley material management techniques audits)
  • Improved Testing: Upgraded final systems test scripts and processes, software delivery mechanisms, final assembly quality processes, quality checklists, and final inspections.
  • Shipping Material: Reduced the cost of materials used for packing and shipping internationally 25%.
  • Work Areas: Created static free work areas for material storage.
  • Improved Yields: Upgraded “bed of nails” and functional test process to increase first pass yields to acceptable levels. We added several additional test points for improved coverage.
  • Help Desk: Based upon user feedback, I established a Tier 1 Help Desk, created Quality Assurance, and established self help platforms. I established feedback methods for the customer.
  • Created Budget: Created a plan to achieve a budgeted network upgrade plan, including tools, which included hardware and software. (as $ would allow)
  • Disaster Recovery Business Continuity: Evaluated our Disaster Recovery process and selected a service provided by General Electric to drop ship material and systems within 24 hours of raising an emergency alert.
  • Escalation Process: Updated escalation and call out methods, trained on recovery techniques and purchased an off site vault to store back-up material in. I wrote a disaster recovery manual and a security manual.
  • International Service: Installed fire walls, and increased bandwidth for global and domestic teams to access non-proprietary information and systems to allow improved production of the products
  • Preventive Maintenance: Created maintenance windows for IT team to perform standard maintenance and tests when traffic was low and interruptions were not as impacting. Established daily, weekly, monthly service routines.
  • Process Improvement: Trained and mapped processes. Globally converted to an Oracle database.
  • Standards: Standards based guidelines created based upon ISO and Telcordia
  • Baselines: Hardware & Software Baselines Established
  • Root Cause: Root Cause Analysis process was created
Apr 2000 - Dec 2005

Director Customer Service

Santera/Tekelec

Held responsibility for all phases of technical assistance, systems test, program management, professional services, interoperability testing, new product introduction and installation support.  Staffed all the teams from inception and with the expanding customer base it was necessary to grow into the specific area of customer service internationally, while also expanding into areas such as software delivery, software and hardware upgrades and a 24x7 call center for basing professional services.

What do Michael's colleagues say?

  • Corrective Software Patches: Developed an automated process for consistent and timely delivery of patches to customers.  Customer Service Requests were reduced by 10% during the 1st Quarter of 2005 and problem rediscovery was reduced or eliminated as the process gained sophistication.
  • Software Upgrades: Identified a team to specialize in software upgrades, instituted preparation checklists to be executed jointly with customers and focused team members on creating and refining a repeatable process to de-risk upgrades.  Upgrades with issues and upgrade aborts were reduced by 50% though the volume of upgrade delivery was increased by a factor of five.
  • Technical Support Bulletins: Formalized support bulletin processes and created the format for the switching customers.
  • CRM Upgrades: Purchased and upgraded the PCs to the highest speed processors and assigned two subject matter experts from the team to document challenges and suggest corrective actions required to speed the service response times.  Assigned a team coordinator to ensure the process flowed smoothly to and from the persons performing technical assistance for quality improvements.  Worked closely with the vendors to improve the end customer’s experience.
  • Improved Call Response: Instituted a second shift to intercept 90% of the after hours calls.  Paired experienced staff with less experienced staff to create a mentor program to make the second shift a positive for TAC as well as the customer.  Placed the most experienced technical personnel on call for overflow and special help. The program reduced page outs, increased employee satisfaction and increased the response time to the customers dramatically.
  • Release Notes Development: Worked with documentation and engineering to develop release notes for patches and new software loads.  Customers were much happier and confident regarding upgrades and patch delivery once this program was in place.  Questions were reduced, and the customers became partners in the process.  Customer known reports increased confidence.
  • Call Queue Reduction: Expanded the VOIP call distribution system to include everyone in the technical support family including management in a tiered arrangement to insure phones were always answered in a timely manner.  Developed a process to take advantage of all-available personnel during the busiest call hours and kept costs down by maximizing personnel use.
  • Tech Support Training: Introduced internal training sessions to enable tech support to properly introduce new products that deployed rapidly.  Brown Bag sessions, train the trainer, short-term hands on assignments were all used to improve the overall staff members.
  • Global Resource Development: Collaborated with partners across the globe to provide training to off shore staff and customers by the core team.
  • Infrastructure Development: Developed infrastructure (IT and Telecom) to support customers.  (Firewalls, VPN system, servers, dial facilities, labs, and test equipment, remote user areas).  Developed the call distribution system to insure phone queues were limited, an off hours callout system to handle 24x7 requirements, and set up the trouble ticketing system to include priorities and response times for different severities.  Documented all processes for the customers to reference and distributed that documentation along with pre-in-service checklists, and all manner of program management checklists.
  • Initial Product Trials: Formed special teams to accommodate different applications for new product and feature trials as well as First Office Applications of new releases and applications.  Tailored the teams with the correct skill set and mind set to successfully achieve positive results.
  • Process Mapping: Documented processes and developed flow charts that displayed basic functions such as service report opening, flow to engineering when required, the transition from installation to in service for an office, call through testing, etc.
  • New Hire Training: We were required to quickly bring the entire TAC staff up to speed on a new product in numbers as the customer base grew on voice and data.
  • Remote User Areas: Planned and implemented remote user areas which greatly diminished the space requirements for lab systems and improved utilization of existing labs.  This kept costs down, and greatly reduced static and pilfering problems in the existing labs.
  • Large Office Test Program: The Santera T9000 could accommodate 200K ports easily and 5,000,000 busy hour call attempts at a sustained rate.  A large office to test under duress was required to exercise the system at capacity.  This uncovered problems at capacity before offices being deployed.
  • Software Delivery Program and Management: Developed a method to deliver software loads quickly and efficiently in house and to customers, provided software vaulting, version control, bundling of fixes, and all initial mechanisms to provide support for our customers.
  • Release Control: Developed and maintained mechanisms to track hardware and software baselines to insure the correct release was used in the field and during final systems test.  Developed a CCB board for hardware and software and a PCN process.
  • Service Level Agreements and Pricing: Supported warranty, professional services, repair and return and the cost and price of those services to respond to RFPs and RFQs as well as for SLA agreements.  Authored the support and service plans used with the customers, developed, and priced professional services.
Mar 1990 - Apr 2000

Group Leader Customer Svc

I held the responsibility for professional services for all carrier products, global patch delivery and applications, DMS new product introduction, the network operations center and all customer support, verification and sustaining phases for products within the Sprint LD network as well as global responsibilities for the DMS 500.  Headed a task force to focus on and raise customer satisfaction to it’s highest possible level by focusing on key areas of their business needs: software delivery, CSR responsiveness and proactive approaches to problem discovery.

What do Michael's Colleagues say?

  • Professional Services: Created professional services and documented them, wrote the corresponding statements of work and suggested improvements in pricing and service delivery to increase revenues.  Increased revenues from 6m to 15m annually for our division.  Added major additions in monitoring capability within the Nortel Network Operation Center including an in house developed SNMP trap capture program for alarms and events, automatic call-outs, text page-outs with specific information captured for the craft person and other creative features.  This all created value for the customer at a low cost for Nortel and allowed the margins to be maintained.
  • Root Cause Analysis: Improved upon root cause analysis for service interruptions and included Customer personnel in the dispositioning of the failure type and trigger.  Encouraged Tier 1 customers to improve areas that they could positively influence themselves.Created a partnership.
  • Process Improvement: Revamped outdated handoff methods and processes to insure that warm handoffs were the normal process and that boundaries between organizations were eliminated whenever possible. Created a quality gating process.
  • Joint Quality Assurance: Collaborated with Sprint and MCI to achieve standardized handoffs conducted jointly to meet all quality processes of the vendor and service provider.
  • Top Performance recognition: Awarded the Presidents award for quality in 1995, a joint award recognizing high quality customer service, CSR reduction, and efforts to provide error-free software delivery.  Provided two years with no faulty patches delivered, no service impacts from new software releases, and a CSR reduction of 25%.
  • Customer Satisfaction Improvement: Customer satisfaction ratings rose from low 70s to a high 90s during this period.
  • Troubleshooting: Formed teams to work with other Nortel organizations as a task force to address troublesome areas such as product delivery and installation, documentation, training and team expansion and included everyone who worked with the customer.  Created the concept of an “end to end “customer service product unto itself.
  • Joint Quality Partnership: Established a joint quality partnership with Sprint and agreed on how we would measure ourselves, (vendor and service provider), as a unit and partnership and established regular service reviews and metrics to track progress.
  • Synergy Building: Established routine service meetings with our counterparts internally to determine best practices.
  • Patch Development: Improved patch development and testing processes for all customers by establishing root cause analysis forums that dug into the exact failure point of a patch.  This focused the teams on getting it right and taking ownership for any mistakes.
  • Patch Delivery Acceleration: Shortened the patch delivery interval which reduced or prevented problem rediscovery and reduced CSRS, problem resolution times, and improved overall customer service.
  • Online monitoring service: Developed and patented a new switch monitoring service that condensed available switch data into a manageable report.
  • New Product Acceleration: Reduced the period between test and product rollout with quality and deployed products and services more quickly.
  • Lab rental: Established a lab that was accessible 24x7 for customers to “rent” as well as other vendors wishing to interoperate to use and created a small revenues stream of 2,000,000 in 1999.
  • Product Integration Services: Established a professional service to help CLEC and IXC customer’s ramp new service deployments rapidly by creating an integration team focused on all products and all vendors’ customers wished to deploy.  Worked closely with the interoperability team.
  • Remote and On Site Maintenance: Established turnkey service providing short and long term maintenance help.
  • Sales and Marketing Support: Helped sales and marketing understand the technology and pricing structure and write the contracts while working with the customer on services.
  • Higher Margin Services and Sales: Created a method of providing revenue and cost estimates for services and established a tutorial that charted a five-year plan to grow service earnings and revenues.  Demonstrated how to use the basic service engines of CSR billing and service plans to fund and fuel the growth of potentially higher margin services that customers needed or desired.
  • Top Customer Service: Achieved a score of 100% customer satisfaction in 1996 and maintained this score for three years.
  • New Release Acceleration: Improved quality enough with Sprint to gain their acceptance to do multiple software upgrades to many switches on a single night and by so doing reduced the rollout duration from 12 weeks to 2 weeks.
  • Outstanding Service Recognition: The team received the President/GM award for outstanding customer service for the year 1999 for the CLEC and IXC market that consisted of all customers except Sprint and MCI.  (400 customers at this point).
  • Disaster Preparedness: Started planning and built the Y2K team for Nortel that included all service organizations worldwide.  As a recognized expert of disaster preparedness and disaster relief, presented at numerous lectures and customer meetings on how to prepare for Y2k and any potential disaster.

Education

Education
Jan 2000 - Feb 2000

Certificate

Training On-Line

On-Line training course to learn advanced program and project management techniques.

Mar 1976 - Apr 1983

Certificate of Training

US Army Signal School

I completed 3000 hours of communications training in the US Army signal school during the course of my service. I was awarded the Honor Graduate and Distinguished Honor Graduate title for my multi-service graduating classes for having the highest scores within the class of over 100 students.

May 1980 - Mar 1983

None

I attended night school while serving in the Armed Forces, (US Army), overseas until I left my assignment. I was unable to complete enough hours for my degree in Computer Science.

Jan 1978 - Jun 1980

Associates

While in the United States Army I attended college at night while stationed at Ft. Hood Texas and earned my Associates degree.

Skills

Skills

Facilities

Quality Assurance

Security

IT

Manufacturing

Supply Chain and SLA's

Forecasting and Budgeting

CRM and Order Entry

Systems and Final Systems Test

Service Delivery

Professional Services

Call Centers

Network Operations

Program/Project Management

Technical Support

Customer Service

Interest

Fishing, Hiking, Camping for fun and exercise.

Gardening and landscaping because I have a green thumb.

Writing to cleanse my psyche

Objective

I'm seeking an opportunity to lead a customer service/operations organization to the next level of excellence. I'm seeking a company that views great service and operations as a competitive advantage and is attempting to raise customer satisfaction exponentially. I'm seeking to build a team from inception in a start-up or emerging environment, or re-invigorate an existing team that needs to reach the next level of efficiency or excellence.

I will:

  • Create and/or improve customer satisfaction to become best in class
  • Make customer service and operations a competitive advantage
  • Improve workflows and improve processes. (reduce cost)
  • Introduce network discipline and maintenance techniques
  • Reduce response times to internal problems.
  • Enhance collaboration between teams.
  • Upgrade the infrastructure to improve quality tracking.
  • Document and plan for emergencies, disasters, service interruptions for effective escalation
  • Introduce a culture of excellence.
  • Introduce process that works on any product and in any industry.
  • Reinvigorate an existing team or create new teams as required
  • Create effective work flows for material forecasting, handling and tracking
  • Upgrade the infrastructure to improve manufacturing methods and quality tracking
  • Partner to improve and reduce the cost of operations/manufacturing
  • Improve cycle and delivery times
  • Create effective internal training programs and make this a part of the culture.
  • Partner with my counterparts to improve the customer experience across the organization.
  • Quickly scale the teams to meet the challenge or direct resources to critical service areas.

Summary

Experienced service and operations leader who improves or creates customer satisfaction by developing organizational service standards and through the innovative use of technologies.Vast experience within the area of Global Operations, Technical Support, and International Customer Service. Known as a dynamic leader, an exceptional mentor and teacher, with detailed knowledge of end to end customer service with the demonstrated ability to immediately improve or reinvigorate teams of professionals. Expert on work flows, securing a supply chain, service level agreements, managing partners, service delivery and creation. Have created entire end to end service organizations by hiring staff, creating service infrastructures, developing processes and integrating teams. Excellent knowledge of call center techniques, training methods, service standards and CRM and material management tools. Comfortable partnering with both customer executive management and internal partners in sales, development and product management. Proven track record of delivering results under challenging conditions.

Certifications

Certifications

CPU/CMC/IOC Advanced Repair

Bell Northern Research

DMS Software Technology and Repair

Bell Northern Research

Advanced New Peripherals

Bell Northern Research

Northern Telecom SL100 Translations

Nortel

Northern Telecom SL100 Maintenance and Repair

Nortel

DSC/Alcatel Database Administration

DSC

DSC/Alcatel DEX 400 Maintenance and Repair

DSC