Lumen optimizes processes by 90% and scales innovation across the organization with Managed Environments

In this “do more with less” blog series, we share examples of customers who have utilized Microsoft Power Platform in their organization to gain significant time and cost savings through modern applications, automated processes, insightful analytics, and more. 

Lumen Technologies, formerly known as CenturyLink, is a technology company that provides network, cloud, and security services to enterprise customers globally. The company’s offerings include network and data center services, managed hosting, and cloud infrastructure services, as well as a range of security and application management solutions.  

They have cultivated an active community of “Lumen Makers” – over 800 professional and citizen developers across the company building Power Platform solutions, some of which have increased efficiency of their business processes by over 90%.  

They used the recently announced Managed Environments and Pipelines capabilities in Power Platform, in conjunction with the CoE kit, to establish robust governance, administration, and application lifecycle management (ALM). This has enabled their IT team to effectively manage low-code innovation at scale – currently spanning 800+ apps, 11k+ cloud flows, 450k+ desktop flow actions – while experiencing a rapid growth in numbers of new makers and new digital solutions. 

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Using automation to reduce discount processing time by 90% 

With the introduction of the Emergency Broadband benefit launched in the United States during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, customers could request discounts from internet service providers. Program administrators needed to process requests, such as verifying customer accounts, checking for qualification criteria, downloading subscriber data, and many more processes for each request.  

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP), which provided qualifying customers with discounts on their internet service. For both EBBP and the successor, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), administrators needed to quickly process consumer requests—such as verifying customer accounts, checking for qualification criteria, and downloading subscriber data—before the discounts could be applied to the customer’s account. By developing a solution leveraging over 57 Power Automate cloud flows, Lumen Technologies was able to automate this entire process end-to-end, reducing the processing time for each EBBP or ACP request by 90%

App developed by field supervisor slashes 80 days from claims wait time 

When copper or fiber optic cables maintained by Lumen are damaged, field staff need to capture details and submit claims. This used to be a cumbersome manual process that involved sending text messages along with emails and photo attachments to their field supervisors. The overall process from the time of incident to the claim being billed took 90 days.

As a field supervisor, Robert Autry regularly dealt with the challenge of manually collating claims information from multiple locations. He discovered Power Apps and as a self-taught citizen developer created a mobile solution to streamline the process. Field technicians now use a mobile app at the job site to capture all damage data and in just a few minutes can create and submit a claim for review by field supervisors.

The revised process has been used to process approximately $30 million in damages and has considerably reduced the overall time for claims to be billed out – down from 90 days to 10 days.

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Screenshots of the mobile “Damage claims app” used by field technicians

“It saved the company money. My company did not have to go and buy something off the shelf to replicate what I created.”

— Robert Autry – Lumen Technologies

Managed environments unleashes the power of citizen makers with easy ALM 

All of the innovations were possible due to how Lumen had set up their environment strategy. Lumen manages over 120 production environments and around 3000 developer environments.  One of the struggles Lumen had was to enable citizen developers to be able to follow an ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) strategy. This required code-first knowledge about CLI (Command Line Interfaces), Azure DevOps, and other development concepts, making it a steep learning curve for those without ALM experience or coding backgrounds. In order to trust important business processes in the hands of citizen makers, Lumen needed them to use mature ALM practices to manage and deploy their solutions. 

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Lumen has started using pipelines in Power Platform – a feature within Managed Environments that enables people to easily set up ALM without prior knowledge – making it more friendly for those from a low-code background to have the same standard of ALM as code-first developers. 

“Training a user or a maker on ALM was easily a couple of hours, and most of the time, people weren’t coming back because they didn’t understand most of what was there. Now, all I have to do is just add the users as Pipeline admins and then just say “Hey, you see that little rocket down there? Just press that!”

— Andrew Gaskins – Global Power Platform Lead, Lumen Technologies

Developing the internal community 

Today, over 800 app makers and 1,400 flow makers are part of the Lumen Makers community, sharing best-practices and reviewing new features of Power Platform. For all its success today, the Lumen Makers Community began as a simple Teams channel in late 2019. Lumen partnered with the internal Change Leadership team at Lumen with an external vendor to formally launch the Lumen Makers network in Fall 2021. The Change Leadership team provided support by developing network launch communications and templates for success story spotlights and leadership updates, while the vendor’s Power Platform Practice initiated a citizen developer program to provide coordinated Power Platform training and use case development sessions to the first wave of Lumen Makers. 

“We recently licensed the whole company for premium features and Dataverse. It’s opened the doors for so many things we couldn’t do before.”

— Andrew Gaskins – Global Power Platform Lead, Lumen Technologies

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Next steps 

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