Chapter 28: Cutover Planning and Management

The transition from a company’s old telecommunications system into a new one is called cutover. The detailed process that leads towards its successful implementation is known as cutover planning. As a cutover by its nature disrupts the company the main objective of a cutover plan is to minimize disruption. The case study to be used in this summary refers to large cutover processes of voice and data equipment and explained with respect to PBXs. Lesser scale projects may omit or abbreviate some of these procedures. It is important to keep in mind that as cutovers are not identical some new steps may need to be included in order to deal with unique characteristics from a company. Finally, cutovers are not frequent events as most telecommunications managers will only encounter cutovers during a few times in their careers

Cutover Types

There are two main classes of cutovers:
·        Flash cut: where the change is completed in a short-span of time
·        Parallel cut: where the legacy system is left functioning and the new system is installed around it (m More reliable but also more expensive)

Changes in Cutover Procedures

·        Originally the LEC provided all the circuits and hardware for a company’s telecommunications system

·        Manager’s role was simple and mostly consisted in choosing a date, printing/ordering new stationary and coordinating the distribution of the new equipment and/or definition of roles

·        Nowadays cutover demands detailed attention from telecommunications managers as the increased amount of telecom vendors provide a wider selection of possibilities

·        A close study of these possibilities will permit managers to minimize delays and achieve a greater degree of cost savings for the company

Cutover Requirements

·        Planning the cutover
·        Change Control
·        Conducting the network facility and station reviews
·        Establishing a fallback plan
·        Testing the new system
·        Conducting post-cutover test and follow-up

Planning the Cutover

The main responsibility of a telecommunications manager is to oversee and anticipate all tasks to be accomplished prior, during, and immediately after a cutover:
·        User training
·        Very important aspect as it minimizes post-cutover problems
·        Floor Plans
·        Identify equipment and cubicle numbers, outlets and room locations
·        Do the company already possess all the necessary facilities for a successful cutover?
·        What is the cost/benefit analysis supporting the cutover?
·        Installation of a new network vs. a hybrid system that reuses part of the legacy network

Change Control

The change control process ensures that any changes that occur after a snapshot of the old record is taken find their way into the new. Information extracted from the old system has to be transferred to the new system

Companies impose deadlines or freeze dates after which no more changes will be programmed as part of the cutover:

Equipment freeze
·        When the manufacturer cannot accept further changes to be incorporated into the product that the company will ship after a product order has been received

Station freeze
·        When the telecommunications manager decides that no more changes will be programmed into the system

It is important to remember that the success or failure of the cutover will be measured by the amount of disruption experienced after the first few days of the cutover has passed

The numbers of discrepancies that occur depend on the amount of changed to be implemented after the cutover’s freeze date.

Conducting Network Facility and Station Reviews

·        Station reviews apply to both vice and data networks

·        The main goal of a station review is to develop data for programming the switch or network.

·        Users need to learn and understand how the new system will work in order to avoid future time-consuming complaints from employees

·        Developing a standard framework allows the telecommunications manager to better administer the system and allow other users to share workstations

Station Review Functions





Assign extension and DID numbers

Assign IP address; user name; login scripts; drive mapping; Internet address


Determine feature needs; assign feature to telephone sets bottoms

Determine printer assignments; drive partitioning; application software requirements

Group Assignments

Assign hunt groups; pickup groups; coverage paths

Assign users to closed-up groups; email distribution lists


Assign ACD login; voice mail passwords

Assign rights and permissions; trustee assignments; account restrictions; encryption requirements


Develop internal telephone directory

Develop file server directory structure; email directory

·        Station Verification

·        Conducted to detect and correct discrepancies between records from the old and new systems

Main Objectives of Station Verification

The objectives of station verification are:
·        Get a complete list of working stations, their location, users’ names, and if appropriate, cable and pair they are assigned
·        Determine whether the stations are still in use, and if so, whether they are needed
·        Determine the appropriate type of telephone set or terminal to provide
·        Verify the need for important features such as DID, voice mail, pick up groups, hunt groups, ACD, or UCD
·        Determine the coverage path for each user
·        Build login scripts for each user

PBX Station Reviews

·        The telecommunications manager main role is to select and allocate the terminal types to be used by the company based on the complexity and existing demands.
·        Most modern digital PBXs offer at least five types if terminals:
·        Single-line analogue set
·        Single-line digital set with feature bottoms
·        Multiple-line set with feature bottoms
·        Multiple-line set with digital display
·        ISDN set

Trunks Reviews

·        Trunk reviews determine the quantity of trunks of all types needed based on traffic usage information and growth forecasts

·        To accomplish this objective the telecom manager has to obtain a large sample of usage to allow the computation of the number of trunks that will give the best balance between cost and service

Establishing a Fallback Plan

Allows for an alternative procedure in case the cutover schedule is delayed or the opportunity of accelerate it occurs. Points to be considered in a fallback plan:
·        What other projects depend on the completion of this plan?
·        What penalty will be paid if this plan is delayed?
·        What is the probability of delay?
·        What factors could cause the cutover to be delayed?
·        What alternatives are available to hold the schedule despite delays?

Testing the New System

·        The telecommunications manager needs to test the new system before concluding the cutover process; this will allow for the identification and subsequent eradication of problems

·        The vendor will provide a manual of performance test that the system must meet before it is turned up for service.

Conducting Post-Cutover Test and Follow-Up

The first week after the cutover is crucial for determining the success of the new system implementation. The telecom manager must compile, review and file all documentation provided by the vendor before releasing him from further responsibilities (besides those mention in the warranty policy). The documentation should include the following:
·        System operation and maintenance manuals
·        Station wiring diagrams
·        Trunk and station cross-connect lists, including cable and pair assignments
·        Class-of-restriction and class-of-service assignments
·        Feature assignment lists
·        Port assignment lists
·        Hunt and pickup group assignments
·        User assignment information
·        Extension number
·        Room number
·        Answering location
·        Features
·        Restrictions

Cutover Task List

Organize the Project

Set project objectives
Establish cutover team
Establish key cutover dates and milestones
Hold a kick-off meeting
Develop task lists

Develop Requirements

Determine system requirements
Determine feature requirements
Identify equipment locations
Determine station requirements
Determine attendant console requirements
Determine call accounting requirements

Select Equipment

Develop RFP
Select the system
Negotiate the contract

Plan the Cutover

Determine facility transition methods
Develop training plan
Develop station numbering plan
Determine protection requirements
Develop cutover methods
Develop cutover schedule
Develop testing methods
Develop security and anti-toll fraud measures
Develop change control procedures
Identify critical stations
Identify power-fail procedures
Determine station terminating arrangements
Develop class-of-service and restriction plan
Develop voice mail plans
Compile station records
Assign station numbers
Develop intercept plans
Reprint directories
Reprint stationary
Develop wiring plan
Determine and publicize “freeze” dates
Develop contingency plan

Prepare Equipment Room

Select location
Develop equipment room drawings
Prepare equipment room
Prepare electrical wiring
Prepare HVAC

Select and Order Network Facilities

Determine network facility requirements
Place order for LEC and IXC services

Order Equipment

Place orders for telecommunications equipment
Ship equipment

Install Cabling

Design distribution frame
Place station wiring
Test station wiring

Install Station Equipment

Conduct station reviews
Assign station connections
Place station equipment
Install start-up software

Install Equipment

Install equipment
Test equipment
Conduct acceptance testing
Prepare station translations
Prepare trunk translations
Program Automatic Route Selection (ARS)
Prepare toll-fraud barriers
Set up voice mail boxes
Initialize call accounting software
Set up help desk
Develop trouble-reporting procedures

Train Users

Develop user training plans
Develop attendant training plans
Prepare training room
Prepare training schedule
Train users

Cutover Systems

Perform pre-cutover station tests
Perform pre-cutover network facility tests
Cutover system
Test critical stations

Accept System

Remove old equipment and wiring
Clean up work areas
Perform post-cutover tests
Prepare records
Conduct follow-up training
Review trunk and circuit usage data
Verify billing from all vendors
Inventory equipment
Accept the system

Links of Interest

UC Davis Cutover’s Overview

Implementation of Callista Cutover

News Article: The Art of the Cutover

Cutover Information from the International Telecommunications Union

Alcatel’s Cutover Services

Tekelec’s Cutover Services

Telephone Set Standards and Price List

ISDN Telephone Set Diagram

PBX Information

Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

·        Automatic Call Distributor – ACD: a switching system that automatically distributes incoming calls to a group answering positions without going through the attendant

·        Automatic Route Selection – ARS: a software feature of PBXs and hybrids that selects the appropriate trunk route for a call to use based on digits dialled and the caller’s class of service.

·        DID Number: Direct Inward Dialing

·        DTMF: Dual Tone Multi Frequency

·        Hunt Groups: a series of telephone lines organized in such a way that if the first line is busy the next line is hunted and so on until a free line is found

·        HVAC: heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems

·        Private Branch Exchange –PBX: a switching system dedicated to telephone and data use in a private communication network

·        Pick Up Groups: when a calls from a PBX phone are programmed to be answering by someone else in the customer service group

·        RFP: Request for Proposal

·        UCD: Uniform Call Distribution