GRAPA is (un)dead

A former insider has leaked some good news for fans of professionalism in revenue assurance, and bad news for fans of the Global Revenue Assurance Professional Association. The reliable source told talkRA that dwindling revenues have forced Papa Rob Mattison to cut GRAPA’s costs to the bone. As suspected, the departure of former GRAPA tutor Louis “I LOVE Revenue Assurance” Khor was a sign of GRAPA’s financial difficulties. Former GRAPA customers have contracted a bad case of ‘once bitten, twice shy’, leaving Papa Rob unable to secure repeat business. In turn, Khor had to leave because he was only paid on a piecemeal basis for the classes he taught. GRAPA’s Marketing Director (the woman responsible for all their email spam) has also left, and even members of Papa Rob’s family have decided to get real jobs elsewhere.

However, we should not rejoice too soon. Papa Rob and his wife Brigitte are like a pair of zombies. When one career/scam comes to its unnatural end, they revive themselves by proclaiming Rob to be a world-renowned expert at something else. Let us not forget that this couple have also described Papa Rob as: an internationally recognized expert in databases, data warehousing, objective technology and data mining; a sought-after speaker at database conferences around the world; a leading international authority on knowledge management; and a best selling author. This makes me wonder how many copies need to be sold, before Rob and Brigitte consider a book to be a ‘best seller’. Neither I nor my talkRA colleagues are best selling authors. But on Amazon, our revenue assurance book has consistently outsold Mattison’s RA manual.

Some recent GRAPA graduates

Papa Rob’s brain was too small for a satisfying meal, said these GRAPA pupils

It must be admitted that there are still some signs of continued life at GRAPA. An advert for a replacement member of staff was recently advertised on Craigslist, paying USD10 per hour. However, those of us with long memories will recall that similar GRAPA jobs used to pay USD12 per hour.

GRAPA is not dead, but it should be buried. This so-called association, a marketing front for Mattison’s pre-existing consulting and training business, has done irreparable harm to real revenue assurance professionals. Papa Rob spread the irresponsible lie that anyone, with only a bare minimum of training, should expect extravagant pay raises and promotions in return for performing basic revenue assurance reconciliations. In truth, by setting absurdly low standards for qualification, and allowing inexperienced chancers to describe themselves as masters of the topic, they have encouraged an oversupply of under-qualified candidates, chasing an inadequate number of low-paid jobs.

There is one lesson we should learn from Rob Mattison and GRAPA. Papa Rob made some quick cash for himself, but he did not build anything which generated sustainable value in the long run. He has never done the hard work to educate himself, which is why he believes he can be a world-class expert on everything. In turn, he never expected hard work from his students. At GRAPA, he created a few low-grade, short-lived jobs for people without any relevant qualifications or experience, but these jobs did nothing to enhance the CVs or future prospects of the people who filled them. Instead of making revenue assurance a vital activity which rewards its elite practitioners, he turned it into a zombie profession, shambling from one meal to the next, with no sense of direction or purpose.

The obituary for GRAPA is long overdue. Real professionals need to tell their GRAPA-qualified peers that they have embarrassed themselves. We need to kill their zombie careers. When we do that, we give life back to the people who occupied those zombie careers, by giving them the chance to enjoy real professional growth instead. Not everybody’s career will survive. But those that do, will prosper.

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.