A Plus (not a must)

Because I keep tabs on what is happening in revenue assurance, I end up glancing over an awful lot of job adverts. However, I had to share this advert with you. The phrase that stuck out was:

experience in TELCO a plus (not a must)

Trust me when I say that I dislike being a sourpuss about the evolution of revenue assurance, but there is no hiding the truth. We have not progressed very far if a job as a revenue assurance specialist does not demand a passing knowledge of how telecoms companies work, never mind any experience or training in revenue assurance. I do not want to exaggerate the problem – this is obviously a junior role. At the same time, I think it inevitable that the global telecoms workforce is bound to contract. Cost efficiencies are needed in saturated markets, the trend is towards reducing cost bases through mergers and streamlining of group operations, and we know that even if we get explosive growth in some kinds of services (such as data traffic) this will not equate to explosive growth in revenues. On that basis, if vacancies open up in one telco, it should be increasingly likely they can be filled by experienced staff from other telcos. But this advert does not ask for specific experience, or relevant qualifications, or anything other than a general aptitude for using computers and working in an office environment. I can also sympathize with the employer; employing and training somebody with no experience may be cheaper than paying a premium for existing knowledge. All of which leads me to two conclusions:

  1. We must be realistic about career paths in RA. If experienced RA practitioners have to compete with inexperienced people, then we must be failing to persuade HR functions and hiring managers that it is worth paying a premium for RA experience, qualifications etc.
  2. You cannot demonstrate value by preaching to the converted. Many of the arguments made about the value added by RA only influence the people who already want to believe they are true. Pie-in-the-sky promises keep backfiring on RA people because nothing is gained by rigging the measurement of our own performance; other people have to tell us how much they value what we are doing. If they see the value, they see it. If they do not, they do not. Making the value apparent means accepting yardsticks that the rest of the world can understand, not devising complicated schemas that lots of RA people do not understand – or that sensible RA people will dispute.

These are grim conclusions if you like to think of RA as a route to getting rich quick. The irony is that is exactly how RA is sold a lot of the time: a short cut to riches, whether by using software to pick the legendary low-hanging fruit or collecting certificates from training courses that never fail a single student. The only sure route to success is to deliver indisputable value and to do it in a way that separates the superior performers from the also rans. And that means solid data that shows a clear and measurable divide between best practice and the alternatives. We need fundamental and consistent ways of scoring RA performance, and those scores have to be acceptable to the customers of RA, not only to its suppliers. For me, this means measures that transparently connect RA’s work to the figures in the accounts, the profits reported to the shareholders, and the cash paid out as dividends. That is the real must-have for RA, if we ever want to identify the A+ practitioners of RA, and underscore the value of employing the best.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.   Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a founding member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group, and is an editorial advisor to Black Swan. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.   Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric's history as editor.