WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK FOR IN A REVENUE ASSURANCE PARTNER


The RA team will develop relationships across the business and with the system suppliers. If you take an objective view, some relationships will work better than others. We need to understand why this is to ensure the team continues to be effective and become smarter with those relationships that are not as smooth.

The best relationships come when both parties are genuinely working for the same goal – there is co-operation between the teams and no finger-pointing or point scoring. And surprisingly, the best relationships are not the ones where the most money is found. Finding money can obscure the underlying tensions between teams – which only surface when the success ends.

This is also true when dealing with your RA System provider. The usual problem comes from the different aims of the two parties. The business is looking for a partnership to provide the support and controls it wants as the business grows. Some vendors appear to have little interest in the business plans of their customers unless there is an upselling opportunity.

So, what makes a good partner?

  • Someone who can support your team by providing additional expertise in revenue assurance, not just help in using its tool.
  • Someone who will listen to you and help you find practical solutions to your problems.
  • Someone who talks with you about your business and where it is going, working to make sure that the right tools are available just when you need them.

Which then leads onto how do you identify these partners – many organisations promote themselves by shouting about how much they have found, they use fancy mathematics to inflate the benefits, so choosing based on what they say they will find is fraught.

A good RA Tool Supplier will be able to identify a customer as a reference, someone you can talk to independently to get some feel of how they operate. Don’t just ask about the quality of the tool, the ease of use, the maintenance, ask also about the role they have played in the growth of the organisation, how well they understand and align themselves with the objectives of your business, how they responded to managements requests for support and how they are viewed by people at different levels of the organisation.

Although never explicitly mentioned, there is the corresponding side – the Tool Vendor will want to know how easy you are to deal with, committing resources to an unproductive relationship is bad business for both sides.

Ideally you want to find someone who can become a long term partner – do the background research to choose the right one for you. Spending the time to choose wisely in the beginning is never time wasted.

Talk to XINTEC, find out what they have to offer, you will be pleasantly surprised.

REVENUE ASSURANCE: ENOUGH WITH MANUAL WORK!

Getting tired of trawling through Excel tables, spreadsheets, etc.?

What inevitably spikes the interest of a Revenue Assurance (RA) analyst is uncovering evidence of revenue leakage somewhere in the organisation. This is what will drive him or her to expand the scope of an investigation and get to the vera causa, or true cause, of a problem.

The lesser exciting part of RA, if you ask the same analyst, is having to manually reconcile volumes of data located in different systems and in different formats. This is assuming the analyst knows what he or she is looking for in the first place!

And whereas the Switching and IT teams might occasionally be happy to offer help on a one-off basis with pulling data from their respective systems, they won’t have the resources to do this on an on-going basis.

In a maturing organisation, RA operatives will inevitably reach a limit to their ability to continually wade through reams of such data. Searching for discrepancies and mismatches to pinpoint revenue leakages within the business can be an ungrateful and oftentimes frustrating endeavour. And there is nothing more dispiriting for an RA operative than to find that, after all their hard work in finally identifying a source of leakage, that management decides it’s unworthy of collection. As perhaps too complex, too old, or too time consuming.

So probably not a very sustainable approach to RA.

But when there are clear wins, especially at the earliest stages of an investigation, the RA function has the potential to grow to new the levels of maturity by striving for continual improvement. This usually means moving towards timelier and more frequent reconciliations, which points to several options:

  • The CSP can choose to stop the RA activities and schedule another one-off RA review, perhaps next year, when the resources from the other teams are more likely to be available;
  • The CSP can ask the RA team to keep working with the hand-built system, relying on the goodwill of the other teams to support them, recognising that this can cause the deterioration of inter-departmental relationships;
  • The CSP can talk to an RA solution vendor about getting help.

The vendor will be able to build the extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) tools to take data from different sources automatically and at a frequency that suits the business, therefore not overloading other departments.

Together with the RA team, the vendor can build the reconciliation, reporting and analysis tools that are needed to identify the issues quickly, giving the RA team more time to investigate the root causes and implement corrective actions.

The vendor may even be able to run and operate the system as a managed service, leaving the RA team with the time to investigate and recover the money.

Choose a vendor with care, though. CSPs should be looking for one that can support a business of the CSPs size. Too big a vendor and the CSP will not get the dedicated focus from the vendor’s team. Too small and they may not be able to support the CSP if other clients are experiencing problems.

Telecoms is a fast-moving environment, where new products and functionality are being launched on a regular basis. Being a market leader means getting new products out there first. But the CSP will want assurances that these new products aren’t creating leakages or losing money. The CSP needs RA tools that can be implemented at the right pace for the business, keeping key systems in check, and supporting an ecosystem where RA operatives can thrive in their job.

Why not talk to us, and see what we can do to help?

THE HIDDEN VALUE IN REVENUE ASSURANCE TOOLS

A good Revenue Assurance software platform will play a key role in mitigating risk within a business.It can provide assurances in relation to the accuracy and completeness of the billing process; it can address regulatory concerns; it can be used to manage customer complaints; it can help reduce customer churn; it can assist in identifying network issues, etc.

Revenue Assurance solutions have been around for many years now, and the discipline of Revenue Assurance itself has reached a measurable level of maturity in many organisations. But the experts believe there is a lot more hidden value in these tools, to the extent that they can even be the drivers of a risk management culture within an organisation.

For instance, in the event of an unexpected incident which may incur a financial or reputational loss for an operator, teams are tasked with effecting changes within their departments to avoid a reoccurrence of this incident. In doing so, they are encouraged to collaborate and think about other potentially significant risks to the business. These could be as far reaching as losing the licence to operate, major network failures, significant system failures, data breaches, losing key customers, etc. 

Lately there has been a lot of talk about Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) – an approach to risk management in which all such risks are looked at. More than just Revenue Assurance or Business Assurance (which covers revenue assurance, cost assurance, margin assurance and partner assurance, or basically wherever one set of data can be reconciled against another),

ERM provides a framework for risk management which typically involves identifying risks and opportunities, assessing their potential impact, and determining a response mechanism which will ultimately protect and create value for stakeholders.

A good risk management strategy should recognise the value and importance of an effective Revenue Assurance solution in supporting the business in reaching this end. If a Revenue Assurance solution is used to its full potential, it should encourage Revenue Assurance operatives and senior management to think outside the box when it comes to mitigating risk, and to taking a risk-based approach to managing the enterprise, such as ERM.

REVENUE ASSURANCE: AN INSTRUMENT OF GROWTH

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) or Finance Directors (FDs) play a pivotal role at company leadership level, helping to make crucial financial decisions and leading the execution of those decisions.

They also know that accounting – the backbone of measuring business performance – is a black art of sorts, masquerading as a science.

By adopting a Revenue Assurance approach, they can uncover the story behind the data, sharpen their decision-making ability, and drive new growth opportunities for the company.

At this time of year, CFOs and FDs are preparing their regular financial statements and updates for their stakeholders. But how can they add more value without losing sight of the core values of the business? 
Could they make the next period’s results better?

There are several traditional areas that get looked at, such as new products or campaigns to be launched, 
or costs to be cut, etc., all of which come with some risks attached. 

New campaigns and product releases could end up cannibalising already profitable revenue streams, 
or potentially triggering price wars with competitors. Cost reductions could result in poorer operational performance, leading to increased volumes of calls to the call centre, increased complaints, not to mention potential regulatory scrutiny. All this takes resources and effort away from running the business.

We are always surprised to learn that that “improving Revenue Assurance capabilities” seldom gets mentioned, although it has proven to be a winning strategy. 

So, what is different about Revenue Assurance? 

Adopting a Revenue Assurance approach has several tangible benefits, effectively improving the accuracy of supplier invoices and customer bills, which usually results in better cash flow positions and improved financial performance. 
Leading consultancy firms suggest that the average leakage in a telco is about 2% of gross revenues. And these are organisations with an established Revenue Assurance function, even a respectable Revenue Assurance system. 
However, in the absence of suitable Revenue Assurance capabilities, leakage levels within Telco’s can quickly exceed 5% of their revenues. And let’s not be caught out: as the costs have already been incurred, the money that can be unearthed from Revenue Assurance directly impacts the bottom line. Even a 1% revenue recovery can make a significant difference to overall margins.

OK, so where do we start?

Is it difficult to get started on the Revenue Assurance journey? Not at all. The only difficulty is finding people with the right mindset to take Revenue Assurance forward within the organisation. More than just a good manager or analyst, a good Revenue Assurance operative should be of an enquiring nature, challenging assumptions, and always seeking the truth. When in doubt, asking to see the original (unprocessed) data, and checking that answers given by others are reasonable and independently verifiable. People can be taught how to use tools, but what comes naturally is the right mindset – that spontaneous inquisitiveness that challenges the information provided.

Assigning good people to Revenue Assurance is just the start though. They need the right tools to help them put their skills to best use. 
A Usage and Subscription Assurance tool would relieve them of much of the routine data gathering and processing tasks and allow them to focus on what they actually want to be doing – finding lost revenues.

In Summary

Revenue Assurance is firstly about having the right people on board, about establishing a risk management culture within the organisation, and about creating a structure and processes to support the function.
Secondly, it’s about moving from spreadsheets to tools that will crunch data automatically and that can be expanded simply and painlessly as the function grows. It’s also about making wise decisions about this sort of technology, ie. not paying for over-engineered Revenue Assurance solution capabilities that will not be used for years, if ever.

This combination of people, processes, and tools, ultimately driven from the top down by the CFO or FD, has the potential to quickly recover lost revenue and to unlock tremendous growth potential within the business.

Why not talk to us, and see what we can do to help?