New arrival checking in…

Hello everyone,

My name is Mike Willett and I am writing to you from Australia. Firstly, my thanks to Eric and the talkRA team for providing the opportunity for me to write a blog. Reading the current posts, I can only hope to provide as much intellectual insight and thought to you as the current crop of bloggers have provided to me.

In RA today, there is much discussion about the techniques for finding revenue leakage – the tools to use, where to look, how to use them.  But what I started thinking about tonight is what are the attributes that differentiate high performing RA teams or individuals.

The answer will draw heavily on how you approach your RA work. I have a heavy bias towards a data analysis orientated approach (in comparison to a process improvement approach) so let me call that bias out. Let me also point out though that a team biased solely on data analytics expertise is not likely to succeed without other supporting areas.  I want, however, to focus not on the skills and experience but on the innate talents or the things you can’t teach.

For me, then there are a few essential attributes.

Resilience – I find this is key throughout the entire process from trying to acquire the necessary data and business rules to do the work, working through the analysis itself, understanding what is real leakage and what is noise and then advocating for any leakages to be appropriately addressed.

Integity – data may not lie but if the RA team starts to make assumptions that it shouldn’t, doesn’t question its approach, doesn’t question the data it is getting then it can very easily start presenting false positive results. When RA speaks, you want people to listen, not switch off.

Flexibility – time and again what you set out to do and how you want to do it can easily be deemed impractical once the data starts arriving (or doesn’t as the case may be). To be able to answer the frustratingly simple question “am I losing money here?” requires a clear focus and ability to adapt.

When you have a team with these attributes and the right strategic direction and support, then maybe, to steal from Eric, the caterpillar might well become a butterfly.

Mike Willett
Mike Willett
Mike is a Partner at Ernst & Young, Australia. He is responsible for enterprise intelligence, helping clients to improve their management and use of data. He can be contacted at:

Mike was previously the Director for Fraud & Revenue Assurance at Telstra. He started his career at BellSouth (now Vodafone) in New Zealand and then moved to Praesidium Services in the UK. Mike graduated from the University of Auckland in New Zealand with degrees in psychology and marketing.

2 Comments on "New arrival checking in…"

  1. Mike, do you use these attributes to test prospective and current members of the team, and if so – how do you measure it?

  2. Avatar Mike Willett | 14 Sep 2008 at 11:29 am |

    It may look like I’ve asked myself a question but there must be one other Mike interested in RA out there.

    This is a good question and takes us more down an Human Resources path more than the RA one. However, let me look to answer.

    These would be more used to assess new team members than current ones. Why? – because the performance of current team members will make it clear if they have these attributes while when recruiting it is critical to be able to determine, as accurately as possible, if they will be successful in the team.

    How do you measure it? – not easily, which makes me wonder if there are psychometric tests out there that may do this for you. Possibly there are, but my fundamental premise would be that someone with these attributes would have exhibited them, and exhibited them regularly and with success, in both their working and personal life.

    When you’re recruiting for RA, you will be highly unlikely to find someone with the experience you want but even if they do have experience that does not mean they are the right choice. Choose the attributes you want (mine or your own), and ask people when they have demonstrated this and then listen carefully to their response. Does the response sound like an attribute that this person demonstrates they do regularly and well – because that is what you will want them to do when they are working for you.

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