Why Consultants Love GRAPA

datePosted on 08:10, June 15th, 2010 by admin

What do Ernst and Young, Protiviti, Infosys, PWC, Deloitte and IBM all have in common? Is it that:

a)      They are some of the largest, most successful consulting organizations in the world today?

b)      Each has a large, viable commitment to providing professional consulting services to telcos in the Internal Audit, Fraud and Revenue Assurance domains?

c)      Each has sent several of their consultants to GRAPA Certification and Training Events?

The answer is, all of the above.

I was a bit surprised last week when I had the faculty team assemble a study to review the GRAPA memberships and training attendance demographics. Several patterns emerged, but one of the most striking was the high number of consulting organizations filling the seats in GRAPA training events.

I was not surprised that consultants are involved in GRAPA. Many of the consulting firms that I mentioned have been staunch supporters of GRAPA from the beginning. Consultants fill many of the key roles on GRAPA committees, and also provide strong support for the GRAPA standards in the real world. However, what surprised me were the numbers of consultants getting certified is growing, exponentially.

Yes, consultants are coming to learn that GRAPA makes sense for them as well. Being a curious and questioning kind of guy, the first thing that I wanted to understand is why? Why have consultants started to flock to the GRAPA training and certification events?

I think there are several reasons for this. First, we have started to hear of more and more carriers placing a requirement, or at least a preference for GRAPA certification as a criterion for the assessment of job candidates. This makes sense when you think about it. With over 3500 copies of the GRAPA standards downloaded around the world, it is natural that carriers would take the next step, and ask that consultants conform to the same standards that they are practice.

Obviously, once a revenue assurance manager, CFO or auditor recognizes the value of the approach, it is simply the next step to prefer vendors who see things the same way. But, while this tendency certainly helps to explain the phenomena, I think there is even more to it than that.

There really is only one reason for any consulting company to do anything–to gain a competitive advantage. Business in general, and consulting more specifically, is an intensely competitive, highly leveraged activity. Consultants are in a constant state of  re-inventing themselves to get an edge on the competition, re-educating themselves, trying to get the advantage through advanced knowledge and skills, re-evaluating themselves and constantly working to improve their team’s and their own approaches any way they can.

Sounds exhausting, right? I worked for many companies as a Revenue Assurance and Business Intelligence practice leader for many years, and I assure you, it is all that and more. Why then, should consultants develop a preference for GRAPA and the GRAPA standards? Well actually, there are quite a few reasons.

Consultants, just like carriers, need to be concerned about whether their teams have the skills and knowledge needed to do the job and the GRAPA Body of Knowledge (an industry wide, consensus based definition of scopes) makes it easy for consulting companies to benchmark and assess their own people. The GRAPA Body of Knowledge provides a key guideline that everyone can use.

Once the Body of Knowledge was established, it was possible to put together a comprehensive Testing and Certification program. The GRAPA Training, Testing and Certification program is the largest, most pervasive and most respected revenue assurance, telecom fraud and telecom internal audit specific program in the world, as evidenced by the hundreds of people that have certified, or are in the process of certification.

But the benefit GRAPA offers consultants does not end there. In addition to the help GRAPA provides in the assessment and credentialization of their staffs, GRAPA’s industry  Practices (Principles, Methodologies and Standard Controls Based Assurance) make it easy for consulting companies to quickly step into complex situations, and conduct insightful and effective analysis and solution design, with a minimum of fuss and “start up time”. The GRAPA standards provide a common frame of reference, vocabulary and approach making it easy for consultants to step deliver value quickly and effectively.

But I think the real reason that consulting companies are finding lots of reasons to love GRAPA, is the GRAPA core philosophy. GRAPA believes and promotes that the most valuable asset  a company can have, and the best way to solve any problem is through the professionalism of the revenue assurance professionals themselves.

It is the revenue assurance professionals themselves that make the difference in any revenue assurance engagement (a philosophy that aligns perfectly with what consulting companies are selling…the professionalism of their consultants). The only real surprise is that so many consulting companies have not taken advantage of GRAPA. But that’s okay. I’m not worried. The momentum that GRAPA has established is clear. They may not be in our classrooms and taken testing yet, but they will be, or they may have to get out of the telecom business altogether.

Well, I think that’s enough for this week. Until next time, this is Rob Mattison saying. … be safe….

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