Trujillo defends Siebel project

Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo defended the progress of the company's IT transformation program despite long call-centre hold times and reports of frustrated employees.

Sol Trujillo
(Credit: Suzanne Tindal/

Outgoing Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo today defended the progress of the company's Siebel-based IT transformation program despite long call-centre hold times and reports of frustrated employees.

The good news is the system is working fine.

Outgoing Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo

The company had migrated over 7 million consumer customers to the new Siebel-based system, Trujillo said today at the company's half-year results hearing to 31 December, but it hasn't been a problem-free move.

"As migrations peaked across systems dealing with order provisioning, customer queries and complaints were severely tested," he admitted. "If you called into mostly David Moffatt's call centres you would see that we had a high level of long hold times for not meeting the kind of metrics we would like in terms of speed of answer. But that's been part of what we expected would happen when you migrate your customers onto a whole new system."

Sales staff had been seconded from their duties to answer in-bound calls. "Now that we're on the other side of that we're going to free up more capacity for outbound and inbound on the sales side of things," Trujillo said. He hoped to combat trends such as a drop in fixed and mobile call volumes as customers have sought to manage their spend.

Carriers had been having it easy while Telstra sales staff dealt with Siebel's teething issues, Trujillo said, but he added the fight was now on. "Look out, we're coming," he said.

Yet Telstra's sales people might not be as unencumbered as Trujillo hoped. Recently the Australian Council of Trade Unions released the results of a survey which said employees felt the system was stopping them from meeting their sales targets, bringing Trujillo's sales push into question.

Trujillo didn't agree with the survey. He said that the systems were working fine and instead pointed the finger at those using them. "The issue wasn't about systems not working ... there's lots of data showing how the billing system's working, orders are being taken, processed and all of that," he said. "You go through an adjustment period. Part of it of is me as an individual learning how to use a new system versus an old system that I may have used for 10 years or 20 years."

"Part of it is that we're not finished with some of our migration of our IT platforms, so sometimes you're working between a new system and an old system and sometimes that becomes difficult for some employees to get used to in terms of their productivity, in terms of the amount of time they take to deal with the customer," he said.

"The good news is the system is working fine. It's some of the process, some of the workarounds you do as you're rolling out a system that you have to keep on unravelling or eliminating as you go forward."