Friday, June 4, 2010

Principles and Standards – The Foundation

As one of the newest members of the GRAPA team, I find myself constantly discovering more things that confuse me and test my understanding of how things should work. Prior to working at GRAPA, I had a naïve perception that businesses (at least any that would keep going) were logically structured, highly organized, efficient entities. They knew how to keep the machine running with few hitches, and any potential backfires had at least three contingency plans.

Then I was introduced to telecommunications. From all I have heard and learned about the telecoms industry, logic and planning may happen by accident, but new ideas, creativity, and innovation are the orders of the day. Products, plans, technologies, and business models change by the week, and in this complexity, chaos can take over. In this environment, mistakes are bound to happen, additional risks can be everywhere, and any concept of stability is non-existent.

Which brings me to the telco revenue professional - here’s the individual who can bring common sense and financial concerns into the dynamic environment of the telco and harnesses the chaos. These professionals keep their eyes squarely on the bottom line (and often times top line), and find ways to mitigate and manage risk. In a way, they enable technology professionals to stay passionate about making things work, and they enable marketing teams to test their ingenuity, and they provide security around the creative process of new product development. These professionals not only make chaos functional, they make it profitable.

This is so cool. As I heard story after story of how valuable these professionals are to the telco, I can’t begin to describe how proud I was to be working at GRAPA, and working to aide these individuals in their complicated and multi-faceted jobs.

But as I said at the beginning, being a part of the GRAPA team has constantly tested my understanding of the discrepancy between how things should work, and how things happen in real life. I had the chance to attend a GRAPA training last year in Las Vegas, and quite possibly the biggest shock I received was that many of the revenue professionals I met were treated as the clean-up crew, they were asked to step up whenever telco chaos spun out of control. It seemed that there was little appreciation for the advantages they could bring to the telco environment. If I was running a business, the first things I would want to know are a. that my product/service is generating revenue, b. that the revenue I think I should be earning is being realized, and c. where my biggest revenue risks exist. So needless to say, I was quite confused as to why at times, the value of revenue professionals was not appreciated, and why (as I also heard) telecoms politics often made it so difficult for them to get involved in those projects where they could have the most use.

Although I have come to accept that life does not always work the way it should, it really bothers me to hear when the role of revenue professionals is misunderstood in a telco - especially, since I have heard such powerful success stories. I feel that GRAPA has a duty to its members to ensure that all of them have the tools they need to achieve such professional growth and appreciation.

This is the primary reason I am so passionate about GRAPA standards and principles – they serve as guidelines for turning the RA job into a profession. When applied to the telco environment and the revenue assurance job, these standards and principles help RA professionals define the pivotal role they play, how and where this role adds value, and improve relationships between RA and operational departments and RA and management.

Since GRAPA is in the process of reviewing and updating its standards and principles for 2011, we are looking for as much member feedback as possible. For that reason I want to use this blog to highlight the various components of the standards and principles, and build a discussion around the usefulness of them. After all if something is no longer useful to the members, then it should no longer be a standard. Not to mention much has changed for RA since 2009 (when the standards were last reviewed by the membership), and new standards and principles may need to be added.

GRAPA, as a professional association, is fundamentally dedicated to the concept of building a community of professionals, a group of people who find themselves in the same situations, faced with the same issues, and who need to accomplish the same goals. This is why discussion of these principles/standards –members of GRAPA sharing stories, learning experiences and successes with other people like them - is the only way to make the principles and standards have any impact.

A community of like-minded people striving to accomplish something is a powerful concept. It is a place where revenue professionals can define their space, and determine what makes them professionally successful. It can provide a forum for discussion, or just a place to come for moral support. Like any community, the GRAPA community needs a foundation, a basic structure that everyone can use to say “yes this is who I am, and I belong here.” To me, that foundation must include standards and principles that are universally accepted. So that is why this blog starts here, and why I encourage as many revenue professionals to share their opinions and stories related to the principles and standards with the rest of the community.

In the next post I will lead off with what seems to be three of the most fundamental principles of Revenue Assurance – Consensus, Rationality, and Integrity. I am hoping people will share feedback and help build the special community they are a part of. This is an exciting time to contribute, and be a part of the 2011 effort to review new standards and principles. And it begins and ends with the community.

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