Much is often made of the need and benefit of training to enhance the knowledge and skill of revenue assurance practitioners. The claims made of the benefits certainly vary considerably and, in recent times, there also seems an increased focused on accreditation or certification to prove that the student has the necessary skills. My blog is not about the content of varying and competing courses but some considerations that I recommend be thought of when evaluating different training options.
Firstly, technical training on how to use RA software tools is essential. There is little value in spending money on a tool that no one can use, or as is often the case, is not used to its full capability. No need for anything more on that.
We all know that it is people that use tools and need to apply their thought processes on the best way to achieve the outcomes that are expected of them.
Training in revenue assurance often seems centred around ensuring that the students have an adequate understanding of how a telecoms operator is “put together”. By this, I mean ensuring that the underlying technology and platforms are understood. This is certainly valuable but I suggest any RA training you undertake needs to go beyond this and if it is too weighted in this area, then it is more telco 101 than RA training.
RA training often discusses known leakage points and what to look for. It’s great to hear that operator ABC lost millions by $ by a wrong configuration but there’s a reasonable chance that the configuration is specific to that operator and not so relevant to you. Case studies are always of interest but for anyone other than absolute RA novices, we know how leakage can occur. Simply, we lose call/event records, we misalign services provisioned to those billed and/or we charge the wrong amount. Most leakages seem to be some variation of these. What you want training to do is improve your efficiency and effectiveness at finding revenue leakage.
So how can this be done? I don’t have all the answers but here’s some thoughts:
- ensure that the training encourages you to think about you own operational situation, as opposed to a generic model of a typical telco. For example, calls can be lost but what are the relevant systems in your organisation, what are they meant to do and what might go wrong. With that knowledge, you already have the start of a scoping document for some work.
- model what good RA work looks like – how long should it take, how will precision be ensured, how is the programme managed, how are updates communicated, how are outputs prepared, what will be done to fix any identified leakages etc. This includes understanding what the challenges are to undertaking RA work, and highlight, very specifically, how these can be overcome.
- how do you define a programme to prioritise your efforts. We all know our companies are large and we could look everywhere but, depending on your priorities, where should we invest our time? For example, if you are chasing revenue, then generally, complexity and/or manual processes lead to the largest losses. Training should ensure you understand some of these principles and apply them to your situation – what is complexity to you (in the design, the build, in the implementation, in what CSRs are meant to do)?
To summarise, when you look at training options, be wary of training purporting to be RA when it may be on other subjects and seek out training that defines better how you can specifically improve the quality and quantity of your RA output.
I do not think that “one size fits all” is the appropriate approach to training.
To find the appropriate training you need to set your goals and know who the target audience is, and how much are you willing to spend on it.
What are the goals? Is it capacitating RA investigators or capacitating RA managers. Is it capacitating on using of a specific RA tool or is it teaching general principles? Is it providing industry certification or is it getting hands-on experience? Etc.
Who are the trainees? Are they newcomers or are they experienced RA practitioners? Do they come from a single CSP, or are they part of a group company or perhaps they come from multiple very different CSPs? Do they have deep knowledge on networks but poor financial background, or vice versa? Etc.
Certainly the cost of the training will be different if you send people to a general course, than if you build a specific course for your organization, targeting its specific problems. (I do not think that the latter is necessarily better – having an heterogeneous training has it advantages)
Only after you have clear goals, and know which the target public is, and you know your budget restrictions, you can select the most appropriate training approach for you.