While I still have plenty of cleaning up to do on the literature review, I am finally arriving at planning the fieldwork of the study, which made me reflect on discussions I had with a number of people on the standardisation of revenue assurance. I don’t need to add GRAPA’s drive in the certification of RA personnel to point out that there is an obvious movement toward standardisation or the implied assumption that by some miracle, standardisation actually already occurred.
MTN Group is on a drive to standardise technology across its operating units (OU’s). According to Deidre Ackermann, group CIO, ‘consideration must be given to how an organization implements operating models for achieving the efficiency that they seek but that does not stifle innovation or speed to market’. Add to this a healthy dose of diverse cultures and physical locations in their footprint and one can appreciate her challenge. Dr Ackermann is under no illusion that using a standard framework such as NGOSS, modeled and implemented will not solve the problem. She acknowledges the fundamental business practices that must change to comply with standardisation and that this change is not only affecting technology but business processes as well. MTN’s drive is on the total of its systems but lets just consider its RA technology across its footprint.
Do we mean standardisation of RA tools with the inclusion of all its new requirements or are we addressing the process of RA as well? The literature reviewed for my study provided some insight into the process of RA, which contributes to my list of plenty of clean up still to do. There are a number of white papers or magazine articles that propose a basic process of RA execution. A generalisation of these sources would culminate in, Identify, Prioritise, Correct, Follow up.
However, this is at a level 3 business process. What happens at levels 4 to 6? If we maintain that standardisation goes to operating model level only or at best, the adoption of an industry standard, which proposes a best practice at level 3, are we still driving standardisation? We have adopted Six Sigma….but implemented Two Sigma because that is all we could afford or managed to achieve.
In theory I agree that standardisation will benefit the organisation. One can create Centres of Excellence and I would be very surprised if the RA Maturity assessment did not show a marked improvement but have we considered the cost benefit ratio? A few thought leaders discussed the concept of RA being part of Risk Management and several people supported the concept of only doing something when the benefits outweighed the cost. What is the financial and emotional cost of driving such standardisation?
Now assume that there is industry agreement that we will drive standardisation to its nth degree. How do we approach it? Do we select a sample of organisations which we believe are doing RA right, document what they do and implement that at others? If it is sample based, how big a sample and what are the characteristics we consider for inclusion in such a sample? I have a distinct vision of Noah counting the animals two by two. Can we drive the standardisation of RA independent of the standardisation of technology and implied operating models? We can simply ask GRAPA to promptly issue certificates of process standardisation being achieved and demonstrated.
Leadership is concerned with the ability to give guidance within the constraints and boundaries of the objectives to be achieved. The “what’ is important. ‘How’ is a function of execution against that ‘what’. As long as the business ‘what’ has been achieved, does it really matter how it was done? Unless of course the ‘what’ could not be achieved. If in the MTN scenario the drive to have Centres of Excellence and recognition of skills and people empowerment become the ‘what’ objectives, then the ‘how’ would certainly include something close to a level 4 or 5 standardisation.
I am not sure we are all clear on the degree of cloning we are proposing.