Revenue Optimization for Greenfields

I was recently going through the recent posts, and one thing I’ve noticed is that we seem to be a bit partial in only addressing issues faced by established operators. Now, I want to initiate a discussion which focuses on Greenfield operators.

Assuming that we had an opportunity to help a new operator (Greenfield Operator) build a RA and FMS practice, what would we inculcate into the “DNA” of the operator from Day 1? The experiment is directly focused on checking the impact of “Early in the Day” enabling of RA and FMS, and to what extent the move would help the operator save on large leakage issues later on. In my opinion, the critical step for the Operator would be to design & decide the RA and FMS framework. The framework should be encompassing all aspects of reporting, tracking, evolution path and integration.My point of view regarding a RA & FMS practice from day 1 would be :

a) Planned integration of new network elements with RA as a test-bed for system accuracy
b) Existing fraudsters who have been active/ejected in other networks would find a Greenfield operator to be a “Soft” target
c) Building up of effective usage patterns for identification of Fraudsters via deviant usage tracking
d) Proactive verification of subscription data flow and sub-systems
e) Ensuring a “leak-proof” work-flow to handle all issues including rectification tracking

Of course, there are many more reasons for a new operator to take advantage of a full-fledged RA and FMS operation. While keeping in mind that Fraud and Revenue Assurance might not be a key component of a new operator’s roll-out strategy, it is also important to keep in mind that prevention is definitely better than cure.

It is absolutely clear to me that having a strong RA and FMS framework in place from Day 1 would definitely help an operator in both the short term as well as the long term. The progressive growth of the network will help the analysts to have a clear understanding of concern areas, as well as building a considerable in-house knowledge base. As a direct result of forward-planning, the in-house teams would also have to implement fairly strong work-flows. Simple errors, like business document version errors, could be foreseen and nipped at the bud.

I could go on and on, but I would be more interested in getting your views on the subject. Specifically, I’m wondering if anyone sees a reason for why a greenfield operator would NOT want to have a RA and FMS framework in place on Day 1.

Ashwin Menon
Ashwin Menon
Ashwin Menon is the Head of Product at Subex. He has also been a consultant and he began his foray into revenue assurance as an implementation on-site engineer.

5 Comments on "Revenue Optimization for Greenfields"

  1. Avatar dakmatt | 9 Apr 2009 at 5:46 am |


    I think the management team would want to justify why they need to have RA and fraud functionality on the first place.Having said,no revenue leakages happen yet, they might think this is not a priority. Its hard to quantify this effort if there is no monetary value.

    Unless,if the management team has an experience working with RA in other company and see the benefits of having this,then probably this will work. Winning the management attention is most important thing for a startup operator.

  2. Hi Dak,

    “Being a Greenfield operator, they do not have any leakages yet.”

    This is the key line I’m going to focus on. I do understand your point of view regarding cost justification to management. However, the very fact that they are going to start operations means that they are in a unique position to proactively setup controls.

    I’m sure operators who’ve faced revenue and fraud losses would wonder why adequate controls were not setup earlier; hindsight being 20/20 and all.

    For fraud management, since there is no sharing of fraudster information between operators yet, greenfields become an ideal target for me to perpetrate my fraud M.O. and make a quick buck. The idea behind setting up a Fraud/RA control or framework early on in the day is the same as buying fire insurance – protection for the eventuality.

    Also, as far as revenue assurance goes, we do not need to wait for the actual leakage to happen. That kind of an approach is reactive and necessitates large investment at a later timeframe (keep in mind that at the point of finally taking the decision, the operator would have already suffered considerable leakage loss).

    Instead, if we take it upon ourselves to recognize these controls and frameworks not as just another option, but a critical function like Quality Assurance, then I believe the operators would have far more to gain. Simple steps, like ensuring a recurring test-bed for products post-maintainence or network upgrade, would go a long way in mitigating large leakage issues.

    Another important statistic is that Data Synchronization & Integrity issues, over a period of time, has capped at close to 30%. Would this have happened if controls were setup from the beginning? It is a well known fact that data does get contaminated in relational systems over a period of time.

    Some operators do setup routine “Cleanup Sessions” where they try to weed out the dirty data. However, I am talking about ensuring a parity check technique is initiated from Day 1, so that quality of the data that the operations team work with does not become an issue.

    My point of view being that it’s easy to nip the issue at the bud, rather than waiting for it to grow into a monster that’s difficult to handle later.

    I am however interested in knowing your personal view as a practitioner as well. I understand that quantifying the unquantifiable and presenting the same to management might be an issue, but assuming we overcome that issue, wouldn’t you prefer to have your controls setup from the beginning?

  3. Avatar Thameem | 9 Apr 2009 at 7:58 am |

    Dear Ashwin

    I totally agree with you. For any green field (GF) operator, she may be 3rd or 4th or sometimes 5th. The new operator objective will be low cost operator, being they have to compete in the market and lowering the tariffs. (this is the case may not be the big operators like, MTN,Zain,Vodafone, T-mobile etc) They are mostly cost conscious , it’s difficult to deploy $1million for the tools. They will look for some cost effective tools like ACL or idea or something.

    For GF operator, if they follow the proper change management procedures, policies, RA KPI’s they can save money. Once they grown, they can buy RA & FMS system.

  4. Avatar Douglas Kuit | 15 Apr 2009 at 2:14 pm |

    From my experience of several start ups the views here are somewhat utopian. The drive of a start up is to get to launch by hook or crook as soon as practible. If we were to attempt to introduce even basic levels of RA controls and reporting on even the basic order to bill processes there would be howls of anguish from Marketing and Technology groups that this will delay launch.

    At best in the pre-launch phases I agree that getting sanction for an RA framework, getting budgets and resources approved and on board so that in the lead up to launch detailed RA audits of the launch solutions can be conducted and then as soon as launched RA initiatives can be commenced is as good as it is ever likely to get.

    My experience is that it is relatively easy to get Executive attention on Fraud soon after launch; RA is a different matter. For example in the operator I currently work with in the Middle East almost 3 years post launch has had its Fraud system in place for almost 18 months now and is only just now considering RA tools. The RA focus is almost exclusively in the pre-paid space which represents 90%+ of the customer base. Post paid is just not on RA’s horizon.

    Starting small and delivering success is always the key in raising the RA credibility profile. Identify as early as possible in the start up phase the “low hanging fruit”. Accurately quantify the return on investments and prove their realisation. Do a deal with the CFO that you can reinvest 25% of the savings on increasing RA coverage. In doing this you become largely self financing in the early days before you start investing in those big expensive tools.

    Sounds a breeze as there are so many opportunities in start ups but as with all things in life nothing comes easy.

  5. I did RA consulting work for 2 start ups (1 in SA and the other in the USA). In both instances it was within 1 year of operation but I had very different experiences. The USA wire line operator was totally unaware of RA and had major leakage in service porting. The organisation was very immature to start with and had very little inter-departmental integration hence it was virtually impossible to have an open RA discussion. RA work was done in Excel back in our cubicles and fed to whoever could do something with it. It was not the time or place to have such a discussion. Did I mention it was earlier this decade?

    The SA mobile operator was a different story. They asked for this RA work to be done and were thinking about automating the function, which happened about 2 years later. I believe the difference between these 2 operators was in their leadership. Although also a startup, the mobile operator did not require a motivation why we should do RA. It was a given. It had a market share to make up and understood RA’s role in that business objective.

    From a personal perspective, I have tried influencing the adoption of RA in the organisation and it is very difficult when you do so without facts (confirmed loss numbers and process/system where the loss occurred). You cannot be very successful when you attend a steering committee and talk about conceptual things in a framework such as ‘ensure that you have somebody who monitors failed file transfers between mediation and wholesale billing system’. You get a typical nod of ‘yes, point taken. Next item on the agenda?’

    When you sit there with numerous examples of how many files failed, when and what its monetary value is, you have their full attention and you get action. That makes RA real. I don’t agree that startups don’t have leakage. Any new operator in its first year of operation is regarded as a startup whether it is a greenfields implementation or a group operating model rolled out to another location/country. From the first window of opportunity to sell a service, you have the potential of lost revenue. SA’s second wire line operator has been going just over a year. Did I mention they can’t bill properly (inhouse developed billing system) and only turns about 25% of call centre confirmed ‘i want to buy a service’ calls into customers?

    I believe in automating the RA and Fraud monitoring as soon as possible. Yes, we can do a lot with Access or Excel and if you have the right people skills to do it with, then continue with those tools. If your HR processes prevents you from employing SQL and data analytical people in the CFO organisation, motivate for a tool in the 2nd to 3rd year. Get the principle of RA and Fraud embedded in the management structures early but don’t put too much emphasis on getting the framework right. Chances are you will miss a lot of it, blow hot air, fail to deliver something awesome soon and give RA’s future a serious setback (history that will unfortunately follow the RA disciples for the rest of their time their).

    Some comments above spoke about Marketing, etc that would not support RA restrictions. True, they have targets to achieve. Rather do RA unobtrusively in the background and provide the results of their target driving on revenue captured/lost as a value added service by pointing out where what can improve to capture more. Market share in the early days are more important than capturing all the pennies.

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