Are You a Revenue Assurance Black Belt?

datePosted on 06:38, November 11th, 2010 by grapa

I love Karate movies. Like many people, my memory of Ninja, Kung Fu, Karate and Taekwondo movies goes back for decades. When I was growing up, it was Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon”, and most recently my current favorite is Jackie Chan. Who wouldn’t love to be a Ninja, flying through the air breaking bricks with your head and disarming the bad guys faster than they can blink? (ZZT7BZ7FMHT8)

In my opinion, the best movies are the Chinese films. In these movies, the black belts can fly from building to building, and they can knock out the bad guys with beams of light coming out of their eyes. Of course, these movies exaggerate quite a bit, but the fact is, there are Black Belt experts, and they really can do some amazing things.

“…GRAPA certification and training programs are by far the best available…”

Image: Microsoft Clipart

Of course, the adaptation of the martial arts’ concept of the colored belts is not new to business, but we at GRAPA have come to realize that an application of these principles can be quite useful as well. Over the past year, we have been conducting an exhaustive set of benchmarks and surveys with revenue assurance professionals and CFO’s, and the opinions that they voice are pretty much unanimous. While the majority of people have agreed that the GRAPA certification and training programs are by far the best available to help revenue assurance professionals understand and organize their jobs, and to help them professionalize their activities, managers are saying that they need more.

The exact nature of what people say they need takes two very different directions. One group (the financial heads), want to see much better mapping of revenue assurance activities to hard financial values. They seek a unified vision of Revenue Assurance investment, rationalized against the benefits. Another group is hungry for more detailed, training that provides students with specific comprehensive and explicit skills in the conduct of revenue assurance.

Our staff has not been asleep when it comes to both issues. Over the next few months, GRAPA will be announcing and publishing an updated set of revenue assurance standards, (the 2011 Standards Proposal), as well as several new publications. These will include:

  1. 1.The CFO’s Guide to Revenue Management – a standards book focusing on the definition, reporting and interaction of revenue assurance professionals with the Budget, Forecast and Financial Controller functions. These standards will be referred to collectively as the RAG (Revenue Assurance Governance Model).
  2. The Revenue Assurance Managers Guide to Politics – this book will concentrate on helping revenue assurance managers understand how to establish right relations with Top Management, Auditors, Controllers, Fraud Management, Operational Managers, I/T, Network , Customer Service and of course – sales and marketing. This document will be referred to as the Revenue Assurance Rules of Engagement.

While we hope that these initiatives will provide revenue assurance professionals and CFO’s with a lot of guidance and best practices, we also will be putting some major effort into helping people at the other end of the revenue assurance spectrum.

A New Multilevel Certification Program

Starting in 2011, GRAPA will begin to pilot a multilevel belted certification program for practitioners. Certified professionals will be able to test and certify in over 15 domains, including Circuit Network, Packet Network, Prepaid, Postpaid, Interconnect, Roaming, Mediation, Margin Assurance, Market Assurance, Wimax, Cable and many other domains. These tests will provide professionals and their managers with the assurance that the professionals really do understand the domain in question, are qualified to make judgments about the appropriate levels of coverage and compliance for each domain.

Our proposed program will include 4 levels:

  • White Belt: Professionals that have completed the GRAPA – Certified Practitioner of Revenue Assurance level, and who want to pursue higher level belts in specific domains.
  • Yellow Belt: Will provide verification that the professional understands the domain and the industry standards for the assurance and protection of the domain. The foundation for the yellow belt will be explicit and detailed knowledge of the GRAPA standard controls for that domain.
  • Green Belt: The Green Belt level certifies that the professional understands how the domain actually works in their own environment. The Green Belt can say, with confidence, that they understand how things really work in their own environment, and can point out the differences between the Industry standards and how their organization does things (better or worse).
  • Black Belt: The Black Belt level will be the ultimate accomplishment for the revenue assurance professional. A black belt will certify that the practitioner not only understands the industry standard and the actual application in their environment, but will be trained and qualified to assess the risk of revenue associated with each control, and the appropriate, rationalized, efficient and effective mapping of controls to their environment. The black belt will be the ultimate authority regarding which controls should be implemented, in what way, how often and why.

In general, the assumption/goal should be that managers accomplish black belt status on all domains in scope for revenue assurance and that, over time, the professional assigned to one domain increase their knowledge, skill and confidence to the level of a black in their own domain.

Exciting Changes

Sound Exciting? Well, so far, CFO’s and RA Managers have been quite enthusiastic about the concept. Unfortunately, like everything else that GRAPA does, it is going to take us some time to turn this vision into reality. Like all GRAPA standards, we will continue to pursue our process of publishing, benchmarking and then holding a ratification vote before declaring the “official standards”.

It will be a big job, compiling, cataloging and documenting the hundreds of controls, and then developing, testing and ratifying the thousands of questions that will be required to provide a professional, credible level of certification. However, the good news is that we are up to the challenge. It is our hope that over the next twelve months we can develop a meaningful and useful set of rules, guidelines and structure for the implementation of this training, and for providing the testing facilities, and Yellow/Green and Black belt training classes for the hundreds of revenue assurance professionals who have already accomplished the white belt status.

If you are interested in hearing more about the GRAPA standard controls, the proposed belt certification programs and other GRAPA standard efforts, feel free to contact your membership managers, or see the GRAPA website. Pamela Noriega, our newest faculty member, is currently working on the publication of the standard controls to the GRAPA website as a first step.

I hope that you are as excited about this new initiative for GRAPA, and I hope to see many of you next year, as we begin the roll out of our new testing and training programs. I am confident that we already have hundreds of yellow, green and black belts out there, and it is only a matter of providing a way for people to prove their expertise.

I hope that you, like me, can’t wait for the chance to prove to the world that GRAPA members like you really are the best there is when it comes to the practice of revenue assurance.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Until next time, this is Rob Mattison saying…?nchuan kiotsuketene  and “be safe”….

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