Essential Ingredients for Revenue Assurance

In today’s post, guest contributor Michael Lazarou once again shares his perspective as a hard-working revenue assurance analyst. This time, he concentrates on how the Revenue Assurance department needs to work with others, with support from the top.

In order for Revenue Assurance to be successful it requires: resources, defined controls, a framework, collaboration between departments. We can all add to that list based on our own experiences. However, there are two ingredients that are absolutely imperative to have in the mix for the recipe to succeed: at least one executive’s buy-in and good reliable data.

Obviously data is the first step for doing anything worth doing in RA. Getting the data in an efficient, low overhead manner while at the same time ensuring its integrity, is a large hairy beast with fangs. At this point I’d argue that the company as a whole has to be mature enough to have the proper systems in place to enable this. Otherwise, you will find that half your time is spent tracking down a missing file, or the table structure of x mediation file along with the meaning of each value. You can possibly get to a point where all your loaders are working and everything appears to be populated normally, but have you actually verified the data’s integrity compared to the “original”? Adding audit logs and importing data with a useful audit trail requires good planning so that the whole effort is seamless.

The most important aspect of RA however, is to have an executive that gets what it’s about, what it requires to function and how important it is or can be. Without that RA is left at the “mercy” of other priorities both operational and strategic. Let’s see, you want me to increase revenues without influencing demand and establish controls? Most of these things either go over the head of most execs or are simply very low priority compared to getting out the next big campaign to add more subscribers. Not to mention that you will have to beg other departments to pay attention and provide you with information.

If RA is constantly trying to stand up but slips on the wet floor of the above two, it can never truly measure and show what its value is. It takes hard work to get over that hump. Force departments to have your issues on their daily agenda – after all, these are essentially theirs. You need to figure out what is the “main issue” for each department and help them follow though on getting it done. No tool or magic wand can do this. You need to know what you are talking about, you have to be someone that enables conversations about problems and you have to be patient… this also means making a difference in the daily work of each department.

The aforementioned are not novel ideas – the theory is there – however, what happens in practice in a niche function dependent on externalities is real life. That means grinding along, building slowly but surely and even if you don’t manage to showcase your work’s value you will have learnt a great deal; and that is valuable to the one person you can’t avoid.

Michael Lazarou
Michael Lazarou
Michael Lazarou has worked as a Revenue Assurance Analyst for MTN Cyprus since March 2011. His background includes a double major in Computer Science and Economics, as well as an MBA. Before being lured into the exciting world of telecoms he worked as a software developer.   Michael is interested to gain a better understanding of different aspects of RA and data analysis. He shares his insights on training courses he participates in with Commsrisk.
  • Daniel Peter

    This is an excellent post highlighting executive buy-in and reliable data as the two absolutely imperative ingredients. The biggest challenge I have been facing in emerging markets for RA System implementation is the support from other departments although there’s executive buy-in. Reliable data cannot be achieved without collaboration from other departments, for example: difficulties in getting the sample and spec for developing new ETL adapter development, files not getting pushed to the poller location for processing, etc.. It’s essential to have patience but it also has negative impact on showing the results on time.

  • Michael Lazarou

    I would agree that cooperation from other departments is also important since the source of data/information lies there. However, I would also ague that executives need to realise that data not coming through means that RA will have to be more “creative” – i.e. report on what they have – that is a more accurate picture of what exists in the operation anyway.
    If execs realise that RA is not exact accounting, if they can accept that the issues are more than about quantifying them exactly then they will be more supportive and actually take some action on the reports given to them. At the end of the day whether a report comes in on time or not, is not as important as an issue that can easily patch up an oversight and add to the bottom line. The executive that can take a list of issues and realise that the quantification is only a measure of the impact and not an exact loss is the one that gets RA.

  • Mike Willett

    Hi Michael,

    Great commentary and challenges that every RA team faces at some stage – generally early in their development.

    To your comment, I wonder about the organisation that has sufficient maturity in its information / data management to be able to provide quality data to RA. This implies strong data governance, technical ability etc and if there is maturity in this process, then there might also be maturity in the core revenue processes such that leakage is naturally minimised.

    My early challenges in RA were all in this space and, as you’ve said, its messy but in fact the mere act of RA acquiring data, challenging its integrity before even analysing for leakage can lead to benefits to other downstream consumers of that data. For example, tell the marketing team that the data they are using is incomplete (which is sourced from the same location as data provided to RA) and you may find their campaigns are not accurately targeted. In the precision world of RA where 0.5c matters, the value of this perspective extends well beyond RA. Perhaps this is why, for a number of RA people, their next career step is into data governance / information management.