Which One Are You?

People who write or talk about revenue assurance often make sweeping generalizations. So who am I to be any different? ;) But instead of generalizing about the causes of revenue loss or what is the likeliest cause of leakages, I want to generalize about something different. Here is my Chaucer-esque index of personalities: the people you find working in revenue assurance!

The Pioneer. First to identify the need for revenue assurance, he has defined the subject area for his business. Used to standing on his own and far from the madding crowd, he forgot how to relate to normal folk after a while. If he says that something is a problem, it is. If he does not, it is not. If he is happy with a solution, it is a good one, if not, it is not. Better not argue with this guy, because he knows you are wrong! He walks a lonely path, wondering why more people do not follow in his footsteps….

The Hamster. The hamster loves to scamper around in his cage. He finds things, then fixes them. Then he finds more things, that look just like the things he found before, then fixes him. He runs around and around on his metaphorical wheel – a database in real life – for hours, blissfully happy. There is nothing better for the hamster than to feel like he is getting somewhere when he is really not going anywhere at all. Let him out of the cage, though, and he soon gets scared and asks to be put back in.

The Policeman. This guy is like a rule-bending cop from a 1970’s TV show. He knows the word on the street and what is going down. His snitches keep him informed of everything that is happening, unlike those pampered execs and the fools who work all around him. He is happy to rough people up and cut corners to put the world to rights, and has no time for people who think he is opinionated. Better not point out his mistakes, as he can get very angry!

The Secret Policeman. Like the policeman, except more secret. So secret that nobody knows how important his work is. Even the bosses cannot be trusted to understand, so he consistently manages communication into bite-size chunks that people can handle. Much of this communication is… well… not exactly true, but it has to be that way. Nobody else can handle the truth. The Secret Policeman thinks everything will fall to pieces without him, which is why he keeps such a close eye on everyone else, without letting anyone keep a close eye on him.

The Journeyman. Wondering why his telecoms career is stagnating, the journeyman is looking around for a job he can hold on to in the face of constant downsizing. Low and behold he hears of revenue assurance and decides this is his opportunity to give his career a jump start, without needing to really go to a lot of trouble like learn new skills or get a qualification or any bother like that. Repeating the babble he hears other people say, he has found a career that will keep him feeling important and satisfied for the rest of his life, as everybody tells him he should really be reporting direct to the CEO and he would increase profits by 20% if only people did as he said. As he is a true believer in the religion of revenue assurance, there are always new things he is uniquely equipped to handle that cannot be trusted to anyone else, like SOX or business assurance or whatever else somebody says is the next big challenge…

The Guru. Talks a lot about revenue assurance, writes a lot about revenue assurance, and is great at generating theories about revenue assurance. The only problem with the guru is that he has not done any actual proper revenue assurance work in the last five years….

The Travelling Salesman. The salesman sells it, but is not foolish enough to buy it. Talks great talk when in the room, but after he makes a sale, you will never see him again. He keeps moving from place to place, worried in case someone catches up with him and wants their money back! Hamsters love salesmen that offer to supply big wheels for hamsters to run around in. Journeymen love salesmen because they think if the company spends a few million dollars on his stuff, it makes the journeyman’s job secure. Gurus hate salesmen unless the salesmen give them work, money or free travel, in which case they love them again.

The Dead Man Walking. He writes a blog where he makes fun of what he finds in revenue assurance. The idea is that if he makes fun of everyone and everything, then it will be impossible to accuse of him of picking on anyone in particular. This would be a great idea except that some people have no sense of humour! ;)

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

2 Comments on "Which One Are You?"

  1. Can one go from one type to the other or be a combination er,schizophrenic…hamster to policeman to secret policeman cum salesman who finally becomes a guru..just a thought

  2. Your point is very well made: obviously the “types” I describe are just a bit of fun, but people can swap between a few different roles, or change over time. Most of us working in RA need to be hamsters at least some of the time, because we have to do the basic work as well as think big thoughts about what we should do and why we should do it – only full-time gurus and salesmen completely escape the need for real work! The problem comes when hamsters only want to do basic work and never think about why they do it! One thing that also happens is that people start out optomistic and become more pessimistic over time. They think that the value of RA is “obvious” and get disappointed if they fail to persuade their peers and their bosses. They can end up blaming their peers and their bosses, and telling them half-truths in order to manipulate them, instead of trying harder to persuade them. This means that pioneers and hamsters can turn into policemen who turn into secret policemen. But anyone could end up being a guru or a sales person – a lot depends on what people think is the best way to make some money! Most of us like to think we have learned something about RA that we can share (which is why so many people offer their own “definition” of revenue assurance) and if we know how to do it, many of us also feel we know how to sell it to someone else! The problem is that not all of us are right!

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