Do CEOs Understand Revenue Assurance?

Last week, an anonymous individual explained why they were frustrated with their telco’s approach to revenue assurance. Ultimately, the complaint was that management pursued the wrong objectives, focusing too much on short-term money-grabbing targets, and not enough on the treatment of the root causes of leakage. This prompted a question in my mind. How representative is this individual’s experience? Maybe most of you feel unhappy with the progress made in your telco. Or perhaps you feel that executive support for revenue assurance has improved greatly, and keeps getting better.

My own experience is mixed, but as my experience has been accumulated over time, it is not fair to compare executives I met 10 years ago with those I have dealt with more recently. Revenue assurance has changed a lot. People know more about revenue assurance than they used to, but that also means we should expect people to know more. And whilst I have worked in various countries, I would not claim they are a representative sample. In short, I have met good and bad, but I am reluctant to jump to conclusions about the current state of play worldwide. Will you help me to assess current satisfaction with how CEOs approach revenue assurance?

Look to the right-hand sidebar, and you will find a new poll, asking your opinion about CEOs and whether they understand revenue assurance. Please click on the answer that is the closest match to your personal experience.

The results are updated in real-time. That means the graph below will keep changing, as new responses come in!

My aim is to cut through the hype, and to identify if the world of revenue assurance should be doing a better job of communicating with the top dog in every telco. After all, CEOs have the ultimate say on how the telco’s employees are incentivized. They determine how much reward is given for delivering this quarter’s recovery targets, compared to the appreciation shown for implementing preventative and proactive assurance strategies. Alternatively, maybe you feel that CEOs are doing a good job, and if attitudes do need to be changed, the focus belongs elsewhere. Please treat this as a starting point, as we collectively explore how to improve the understanding of revenue assurance. It would be great if we could change perceptions in positive ways, meaning fewer of you endure the kinds of troubles recounted by last week’s anonymous blogger.

Where will this lead? I do not know. But then, when I started working in revenue assurance, or when I started blogging, I had no idea it would lead to this! All I know is that we can keep striving to do better, and to make telcos better. That starts by identifying where we are doing well, and where we need to improve. Vendors do a lot of work promoting RA to execs, but it would be naive to rely upon them to push hard for changes that will yield them no reward. For example, root cause analysis is important, but it is harder to monetize than the reconciliation of large volumes of data. So whilst we can thank them for the work they do in promoting in revenue assurance, the community should not solely rely upon their efforts. Let us look to increase our efforts, first by asking where they should be focused. Is it on the CEO? Or should the revenue assurance community seek to increase its influence elsewhere? I can imagine it will take a while to reach any valuable conclusions, but that should not discourage us from beginning this endeavour. After all, the history of revenue assurance is a story of daunting challenges that were overcome, even though there was no guarantee of success or of what the rewards would be. We have already travelled from there to here. If we work together, we can go further.

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.

4 Comments on "Do CEOs Understand Revenue Assurance?"

  1. Hi Eric,

    I have decided that i will make sure that i share my thoughts in order to contribute to this forum. Earlier in my comment on “the end of TalkRA” i mentioned about the number of years i have been reading but without contributing. I hope i will eventually one be able to participate by writing my own article but it will hopefully come gradually.

    My Assessment to this. I have been in RA for ten years now working under different managers reporting to both CEOs and CFOs. Those who understands RA & those who do not.

    What i have seen over the years in this job is that you are only good as good is your last job. Yes senior management have more important stuffs than RA on the agenda but that’s where the leader in you that comes in.

    If you brand RA as “un oiseau de malheur” someone with always bad news to share then obviously the CEO will see you and unfortunately the RA team as so.

    RA as any other function is a lot about politics but very much so about lobby. Sell what you are doing and what you want to do. if you can sell it directly to the CEO then to his right hand and so on. The word here is to get them engaged in the story you want to write.

    Yes you will not be celebrated as Marketing or the Sales team, they bring in quantifiable and easy to understand money to the company. But if RA is able to to be the unsung hero of the company then that’s very good.

    Its a shame that RA is on the front pages when a big leakage happens but as a leader you can change this. Sell your ideas, influence, lobby. you will have a lot of set backs to rally people behind you but this is what it is.

    Basically if you want to change things start by doing small things that give results and make sure you sell it. Show how it affects the books positively make sure you align the result with the overall company objective.

    it will take only one time when the CEO notice you, then looks for you then trust you and then the rest as we say is history… unfortunately until the next big fraud (if you miss something).

    I love RA like this. It keeps you on your toes.

    If you are not able to influence at higher levels then change the strategy because you need top management’s backing if you want to improve on your maturity.

    • Hi Sha’ad,

      Thanks for another great comment. I look forward to many more :)

      You make a good point about the RA function being associated with bad news if that’s all it gives to the CEO. There is a need to be positive too. However, in any conversation, both the person speaking and the person listening have their skills and interests. The challenge is to change CEOs so they also associate RA with good news, as well as bad news. That means they have to listen to the positive things that can be said – and recognize the value that is being added.

      I’ve sometimes used a football metaphor to explain the role of RA in an organization, saying that RA is the goalkeeper for the telco. The goalkeeper is not like the other players in the team, but it would be foolish to try to play without a goalkeeper. Your comment makes me realize that the metaphor can be expanded, into a discussion on how teams defend (optimize performance, prevent bad things happening) as well as how they attack (win new customers, develop new services), and the relationship between the two. You’ve inspired me to write a blog on the topic.

  2. Hi Eric,
    Thanks and looking forward to that blog as well.
    One great football manager Sir Alex Ferguson once said “Attack win you games, Defense win you tittles”. This says it all.
    It is difficult to change the way your CEO thinks about RA but not an impossible task.
    You got to believe in yourself, believe in your story, say it to yourself, tell it to people get their feedback adjust get their buy in and move on…. you will eventually get to your CEO.
    It is sometimes frustrating to hear that after so many years of the existence of RA, getting managements backing is still an issue. But in every difficult situation lies an opportunity and I will urge my fellow peers not to lose faith keep going and keep sharing.

  3. Avatar Ahmad Nadeem Syed | 31 Oct 2014 at 9:22 pm |

    Great topic. Yes they have started knowing. But it is generally a surface knowledge, which is proven dangerous for any RA professionals. Instead of taking it as a shared responsibility across the company, the top man is made to understand that although others faulted, but why did RA not identify it. Immediately the monkey is shifted from the shoulders of the others over to RA. Losses in millions caused by technical will be overlooked but pennies missed by RA will not be tolerated. My personal experience.

    The moral of the story. CEOs need RA training as a must.

Comments are closed.