What Makes an RAFM Alert Beautiful

Our daily work in RA and fraud consists of controls, alarms and alerts. There are alerts that end up being false positives, others that you can check later or even the next day, and others still that require immediate action.

I could argue that the “best” alerts are those that are actual revenue leakage or fraud cases, so my alerts and therefore thresholds captured something that I can take action on and fix. You could counter-argue that the best alerts are those that don’t trigger, because that means things are running smoothly. Are they? Maybe my controls need tweaking and my thresholds are off.

Maybe the best alerts are those that are unquestionably fraud or an indication of a leakage. Those imply immediate actions and they are self-explanatory. Possibly the other side of the same coin is the “best”. You see an alert that appears on first glance to be just high usage, but after further digging you find that someone is piggy-backing on your network and bypassing mobile data charging… Now you have to contact two technical teams, three executives and order another coffee.

Nah, the best alerts? The best alerts are those you had forgotten you had even put in place. When you receive an email alert and you wonder what the heck it is. And then you light up remembering the alert you put in place for this extreme yet possible scenario.

One of the functionalities that Tableau has is to create custom views of the data visualization and create email alerts on those. This means that in certain cases, I do not need to drill down to the specific scenario I want to examine every single time I open that dashboard. I can filter and create the view I would like to examine and then create an alert for a specific threshold. When that is met, the system sends me an email.

This is what happened last week when I received an alert for unusual SMS traffic in outbound roaming towards international destinations. The peak you see in the graph below requires me to modify three filters to get to this view. However, having created this view once and set an email alert, I was notified once it was breached and was able to handle the case. Below is a snippet.

We all love our alerts and alarms. Some are comforting; we know things are going well. Some are distressing; we know something has hit the fan. Others still are like an extra gadget MacGyver had up his sleeve.

Hope your alerts are all beautiful. Keep up the great work!

Michael Lazarou
Michael Lazarou
Michael Lazarou manages revenue assurance and fraud at Epic, a Cypriot telco, having joined their RA function in March 2011. His background includes a double major in Computer Science and Economics, as well as an MBA. Before being lured into the exciting world of telecoms he worked as a software developer.

Michael is interested to gain a better understanding of different aspects of RA and data analysis. He shares his insights on training courses he participates in with Commsrisk. Michael's accumulated experience of online training also led him to volunteer for the role of Coordinator of the RAG Learning online education platform.