Archive for September, 2010

This video features Santhosh Laxmana, who describes himself as an Adjunct Professor at the Aegis School of Business. But how does somebody become a professor of revenue assurance?

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Recently I had the opportunity to conduct an RA assignment for/with a British carrier that had invested heavily in a proper set of RA solutions about 3 years ago. The amount of leakage spotted was rather impressive. As a result I had decided to list below some myths regarding RA and to challenge them.

1. “Empirical RA efforts, prior to TMF maturity model were less effective”

Empirical RA efforts have numerous weaknesses as they rely solely on the common sense of the RA team and the support they receive from the upper management. However even the most sophisticated and well defined RA initiatives would not thrive without these elementary activities, which IMHO are entirely non-trivial.

2. “Advanced dedicated software solutions are fundamental for proper RA execution”

Software solutions are important as they allow us to focus on the “what” rather than forcing the RA team to struggle with the “how”. Yet, dedicated software requires a tendering process, internal lobbying with IT, procurement, implementation, integration, training and operating the software. Somehow it seems that 90% of the effort is still allotted for the means rather than just focusing on the job itself.

3. “RA conferences are an import platform for ideas sharing and empirical know-how exchange”

Few would argue that RA conferences have little merit. However these few would be primarily: vendors; consultants; and RA managers that hope someone will spot them whilst they give their speech on the podium, and offer them a promotion with a rival carrier.

4. “In the early days of RA there was much more fun”

Yeah, sure.

Any further suggestions for additional myths?

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The practice of revenue assurance is possibly the worst named discipline ever. There are a dwindling number of hardliners who stick to a scope that only involves assuring the processing of transactions with the potential to generate income (what is loosely but imprecisely referred to as ‘revenue’). More and more practitioners have come to realize that they can make a better overall contribution to the business by utilizing their skills wherever they are needed. The most blatantly paradoxical result is that these RA people assure costs as well as revenues, though their job title does not change to reflect this new reality. Over at his blog, Maverick makes the case that cost management is not merely a convenient extension of RA, but should be seen as an integral component of its scope; you can read his post here. To resolve the confusion caused by the name, he proposes incorporating the work under the umbrella term ‘risk management’. I know others prefer ‘business assurance’ as a way to escape RA’s cul-de-sac of nomenclature. All of which rather implies the more devious and forward-thinking readers should be out acquiring the rights to or…

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In an article for Public Utilities Fortnightly, Victor Milligan of Martin Dawes Analytics argues by analogy that utilities need revenue assurance in the way telcos needed it at the end of the 90’s. You can read the article here. I fully agree with Milligan’s comments about customers of RA services demanding a Proof of Concept and Proof of Value to minimize the risk and demonstrate the benefits of RA. However, he also provokes my favourite bugbear – lots of talk about % leakages and recovery, but where do these stats really come from, and how reliable are they?

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This guest blog is by Alex Leslie, freelance consultant. Alex was the CEO and founder of the Global Billing Association, is a well known speaker at international conferences, and has been widely published in industry journals. We at talkRA keep pace with billing news by following Alex’s Billing Views website; you can see the latest news headlines from Billing Views by looking in the right hand sidebar. For this special blog, Alex recounts a personal story about revenue leakage.

In our industry there is a perception that all our problems and all our solutions are about technology. This is not the case.

Just down a country road near here is a house. In one half of this house lives a farmer, with his wife and daughter. In the other half of the house lives a retired couple.

The retired couple decided to change their phone provider. This involved changing their phone number. The farmer who lives in the other half of the house received a letter saying that the work was going to be done on a certain date. He thought it was considerate of the company to let him know – there might, he thought, be disruption while the work was being done.

The retired couple got their new service and were very happy. The farmer lost his phone service for six weeks. He spent over 12 hours on the phone to the two phone companies that were involved. He got nowhere. Nobody would take the blame or responsibility. The farmer knew that I did ‘something in telecommunications’ and, at the end of his tether, asked me to help.

So, I got cross for him. Someone in his service provider’s chairman’s office took charge and we made progress. It seemed that not only had be lost his service, he had lost his number, which had been archived and lost in the ‘no longer needed number’ database.

It took a month from the moment I got involved to get the service re-instated, including a false start when the farmer got his service back only to lose it again two hours later. It turned out the engineer did not have the right screwdriver.

Apparently this happens quite a lot. A database has a customer’s name on it, followed by an address. There is an assumption (whether technical or human) that the customer is the only occupant of this address. If there is no clue (e.g. Flat 1, Douglas House, or Sunnyview Cottage West) then when someone says they want to change service or change number there is a danger that people will get disconnected.

Once disconnected the service provider will, as in this case, lose six weeks’ revenue, have to pay compensation, suffer the cost of re-instating everything and generally suffer negative PR as well.

This was an example from the quiet, uncluttered countryside. Imagine the chaos (and loss of revenue) if this happened on a housing estate with addresses such Flat 125, Nelson House and the database missed the first part of the address.

Not all our problems are hi-tech ones.

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