Visiting Germany – Riding the Revenue Assurance Autobahn

datePosted on 05:38, February 18th, 2010 by admin

This week we had a break in our training schedule, so Brigitte and I spent a week in Germany visiting family. I love Germany. That should be obvious, since I married a German. Brigitte was born and raised in Augsburg in the Southern part of Germany known as Bavaria.

With its beautiful countryside, rolling landscape, forests and farms Germany is a pretty place and always a treat for me to visit. We called on my in-laws, helped my niece Anna with her English lessons and trigonometry homework, and visited the famous Augsburg Christmas market.

However, whenever I visit Germany, I always take the time to engage in my favorite pastime. What I love to do more than anything else is a little game I like to call Autobahn Hanne (Chicken in German). The way you play is simple; you get a rental car, get on the Autobahn (the German highway system) and see how many times you can get your car going over 200 KPH before Brigitte screams in terror.

That is right! In my opinion, the most brilliant thing the Germans ever invented is the Autobahn, the highway system with no legal speed limit. Yup, in Germany, you can drive as fast as you want, and nobody tries to stop you. Moreover, unbelievably the Germans  have a lower accident rate than many, many other countries in the world, with much more stringent speed and traffic laws.

Now, I know what you are thinking. How did the Germans make this miracle happen, and how can I get in on it? Is it because the Germans are genetically better drivers? Do they have better coordination or cars ? Firstly, the Germans are impatient people. They don’t like to wait, and have no tolerance for people who get in their way and slow them down. Trying standing in a queue at the airport with Germans in line and you will see what I am talking about.

The way that they make the autobahn safe is simple. They have figured out the best places to put the roads. They have organized their laws, rules, highways, on ramps, off-ramps and everything else in ways that make the autobahn not only possible, but also safer than roads without that kind of comprehensive engineering.

However, remember, the Autobahn is much more than just a road and some asphalt. It works because of all the different parts of the process work together. It requires the coordination of disciplines: driving, engineering, law and more than anything else, an attitude adjustment.

On the Autobahn, they have laws and rules–lots of them. In fact, they have rules and laws that you do not have in other countries. For example, when you are on the Autobahn, you must always get out of the way if someone behind you is going faster than you. For the Autobahn to work, people have to learn how to get out of the way. Also, on the Autobahn, you can only pass on the left, never on the right. You see, it is not magical at all. The Germans have a structure and rules that allow them to accomplish their speed without compromising on safety. However, who within the telco environment is qualified to figure out how our product and marketing Autobahn should look?

What are some of the things that get in the way of new product developers and slow them down? Network engineers telling them that the product cannot be supported by the existing infrastructure. Billing systems people telling them that the products can’t be billed the way they want it to be billed. Actually, just about everyone involved in the delivery of services.

This new product development Autobahn requires someone who is expert not at any one aspect of the delivery of services, but who understands how all of it fits together, and how it can be “tweaked” in order to get to where you are going with the least obstructions possible.

Let’s see now. Where can we find someone like that? A person who understands the intricacies of network elements, switches and CDRs, billing and customer service. For many, many telcos, the new “hero of the hour” has been, repeatedly, the Revenue Assurance professional. What? Revenue assurance perceived not as “the guys who slow things down”, but instead as “the guys who speed things up?”

Actually, yes I have personally heard dozens of stories of situations where frustrated CFOs, product developers and market executives have turned to the revenue assurance team to help figure out how to “get around’ design and operational problems and help make things work better, faster and safer.

If you to ask me to identify the one thing that presents the biggest opportunity for revenue assurance professionals, and for telecoms overall, it is the identification and inclusion of revenue assurance as a critical component of every product development team. For those telcos who have figured it out, revenue assurance represents the “backbone” of the new product development operation, with new product development support making up to one half of the entire RA team.

So, the next time you listen to a marketing person, CEO or a product developer talk about creating some insane project and launching it much faster than anyone thinks is possible, take a step back and think about the Autobahn for a minute. Is there a way that your expertise, insight and unique set of skills and knowledge can help them get to their destination?

If so, maybe you are ready to join the ranks of more and more revenue assurance professionals who are finding this to be one of the most interested, exciting and challenging aspects of their jobs. And after that, how long before you to start to develop a taste for Autobahn Hanne (Autobahn Chicken). Why not see how fast you can go before you make your CFO scream in terror? It is an interesting thought isn’t it?

Well, enough for now, until next time this is Rob Mattison saying “Be Safe”.

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