Call for Open Source Revenue Assurance

The thing about collaboration is that you can never be sure where it will lead. Güera asked about the differences between crowdsourcing and collaboration. I responded by questioning the ease and possibility of either crowdsourcing or collaboration, at least in the field of revenue assurance. Lionel Griache of ProActiveRA came back and commented about barriers to collaborating on the development of an open source RA tool. I replied that people could use talkRA to set up a collaborative workspace for open source RA, if they wanted. Joe thought that was a good idea.

Is it a good idea? The quality of an idea is measured not just in the abstract – it all depends on the possibility of turning the idea into reality. Over a decade I have been looking, and finding, and sometimes failing to find, ways to collaborate with my industry peers. Sometimes the results are amazing. The publication of the talkRA book, which will be out next year, encourages me to believe that collaboration can work. Just as often, the results of collaboration are frustrating. You never know what the final result will be. But one thing is for certain: you will never accomplish anything if you do not try. And talkRA was set up to let people come together and try to make RA better. Our mission statement says talkRA:

provides a platform for thought leaders, allowing them to communicate and exchange ideas

I am no code hacker – a man has to know his own limits. But if people want to step up and use talkRA to develop open source RA tools, they are welcome. So this is a call for the people who would be the leaders of an open source RA collaboration. I have set up a new page to be an initial workspace for you. There is nothing much there… yet. If you want something good there in future, then leave a comment here, identify yourselves, and start bouncing ideas around. talkRA is happy to accommodate and support you, for as long as you find that helpful. Ask for what you need. I might not be able to give you all you want, but like they say: “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. RA needs leaders, and for open source RA to become a reality, the world of RA needs to find the leaders who will get it started. Those leaders also need to find each other. If that time is now, and the place is here, then let me know, and make yourselves at home.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

5 Comments on "Call for Open Source Revenue Assurance"

  1. Güera Romo Güera Romo | 19 Nov 2010 at 1:55 pm |

    I am certainly interested as this forms the basis of my academic work. I would like to corresponds with other academically minded people. With this I mean thought leaders who apply quality rigor to their outputs.

  2. Avatar Lionel Griache | 23 Nov 2010 at 9:05 pm |

    Eric. It’s a great initiative and I can dedicate time and energy to help push this forward. Most definitely!
    More than willing to collect ideas and put plans together, from all of you, whether you are a potential participative force or a potential user! Feel free to shoot ideas and suggestions!

  3. As Eric has indicated, there have been a number of previous discussions about Open Source RA, there was one on LinkedIn, but this got pulled very shortly after it got started.
    People will be aware from my postings that I am in favour of low-cost tools and open source products, but before we get into this field, we should probably decide what we actually mean by Open Source RA and the level of expertise / training required to use the tools.

    While it is relatively trivial to write the matching queries that reconcile different data sources, the problem arises in two key areas: the extract, transform and load elements (ETL) and the output reporting side.

    There are enough open source database systems out there some examples are SQLite, MY SQL, posgreSQL, and there are many others. There are a wide variety of SQL writing tools to make query generation simple (but they could be bespoke to a specific type of SQL). However, there is a potential conflict should the organisation already have a datawarehouse system in place – there may be resistance from the IT to create another database for RA – hence you might find your options on tools restricted before you actually start.

    But more significantly – how do you get the data into the systems? There may well be some common standards available for certain types of traffic – the TAP file is a standard format, for example, but there is a considerable variation amongst switch vendors and other system vendors on the format and structure of their output. I have worked in three organisations using System X voice switches, each utilises a different configuration of the CDR even though they are called the same thing – type 15s. The contents and order of the CDR is different in every case, so you would need to develop three different ETLs just for one switch, and so it goes on with mediation and billing systems. And that is before we get into the legal minefield of whether a CDR format and structure is the intellectual property of the system provider and therefore making it public would require their permission.

    There is the problem of showing / displaying the output – the report generation process. There are a couple of reporting packages, but again, the problem arises when the organisation already utilises a product such as Business Object, KlikView, Crystal Reports or MS SQL Report Server.

    So the first challenge is to put initial boundaries about what is meant by Open Source RA:
    – is it the platforms that the applications use?
    – is it the development of queries and sub-queries that enable more refined matching to take place (or the other tasks that a RA Tool can perform)?
    – is it to develop loaders that enable the data to be extracted from different system element types (but beware breaching IP rules)?
    – Is the idea to develop a common set of reports?

    So, let us get some agreement on what can be done easily and legally and make progress on those aspects.


  4. Hi All,

    This is very good idea. I wanted to share some of my code to the community. In general, RA tools covers 4 techniques of detection.

    a. Reconcile.
    b. Monitor.
    c. Threshold.
    d. Compare.

    We had developed in-house tools which perform monitor and compare. The in-house tools doesn’t have great features which are available in Moneta(Subex), Affirm(Connectiva) or WeDo. But, most important, these were develop on top of open source platform(linux) and the code are available to view. The framework are there and open for everybody to enhance.

  5. Hi All, I would like to join the program.

    Currently, i explore the potential usage of open source ETL Application to support Revenue Assurance Activity for analysis and montoring. Beside that now i converting an open source software test application for an integrated tools that covers risk management profile, control management, and control result reporting. I thinks that the faster way to see open source to work in reality.

    Please, let me know the progress.

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