Ensuring effective revenue assurance with an efficient inventory management solution

02 March 2021

Ensuring effective revenue assurance with an efficient inventory management solution

Protecting revenue is fundamental to ensuring the success of any telecoms business. This need has given rise to the discipline and practice of “revenue assurance”. With growing network complexity, what do operators need to ensure effective revenue assurance and to align with industry best-practice initiatives such as eTOM?

Revenue assurance for operators

Revenue assurance is a key discipline in any industry, but it’s of particular concern for telecoms operators and service providers. Put simply, it’s all about matching operational costs with service revenue, to ensure overall profitability. So, for example, if you sell a leased line service to a business or to a wholesale customer, then you need to be able to identify the costs associated with the elements that are used in the service, as well as the performance of each.

By combining this data, the overall profitability can be determined – as well as points where revenue is failing to meet expectations or even being lost (leakage, as it is known – when something can’t be billed for correctly, or to obtain the correct payment). The topic has long been the focus of attention and there are numerous, more comprehensive definitions – such as this, from Gartner[1]:

Revenue assurance is the application of a process or software solution that enables a communications service provider (CSP) to accurately capture revenue for all services rendered. Instead of correcting errors after they occur, or not detecting and correcting them at all, revenue assurance enables the CSP to examine and plug dozens of actual or potential leakage points throughout the network and customer-facing systems, and to correct data before it reaches the billing system. The distinctions between revenue assurance and other disciplines are often blurred. Revenue assurance sometimes extends into areas such as network assurance, service assurance, business assurance, risk management and fraud management.

But, as the TMF tells us, it’s a discipline that must be applied consistently across the organization, having created a comprehensive “maturity model” to assess and benchmark revenue assurance capabilities[2]. And, with intense competition and the need to invest in new network solutions due to cloud transformation, the need to protect every percentage of margin has never been stronger.

Lack of integration is a growing challenge

The problem is, of course, that for any given service there are numerous OSS and BSS processes, many of which are interrelated, if not fully integrated in today’s networks. As a result, finding the root cause of a revenue problem can be tricky – and expensive (increasing your costs). And, there are also many different resources that are used to deliver any service.

The situation is getting more difficult. Network complexity is growing, even while transformation to the cloud is in progress. That’s because there are both new services (and new resources to deliver them), as well as another network core (and edge) to sit alongside existing assets. Of course, operators will benefit from the transformed core, but the familiar problems of maintaining legacy silos and integrating them with new solutions will remain. This growing complexity makes revenue leakage inevitable.

A single source of truth is required for effective revenue assurance

What’s needed is a new approach to data and inventory management: a single source of truth for network assets and resources. This needs to include a means to track operational costs, as well as the means to connect this to service revenue. Only with an accurate view of all resources can you ensure accurate revenue assurance.

This is what CROSS provides. It delivers the single source of truth that’s fundamental to revenue assurance, backed by efficient integration to business processes. As a result, all relevant information is gathered in one place to protect your business. As new resources and platforms are added, these can easily be included, so that the data repository grows with your network and service portfolio. But, while necessary, such a view of assets isn’t sufficient.

What’s needed to complete the picture is correlation. A key difference offered by CROSS is that it enables the accurate correlation of assets, across all layers. This matters, because while knowing what’s there in terms of absolute asset base is helpful, this information becomes a strategic asset if you can also understand the relationships between different assets – and how they are connected across domains.

This matters because it is the key to effective revenue assurance. That’s because a true vision of revenue, leakage points – and, ultimately, calculations of profit and loss – can only be obtained with a complete end-to-end view of all of the elements in a service chain. You need to know how things relate to each other, across all domains and layers, so that these chains can be fully determined.

CROSS also simplifies the identification of the root cause of any revenue assurance issue, because it enables individual resources in an end-to-end service chain to be identified, so that the source of any error can be tracked, not just to an asset but to as part of a specific service. It also delivers insights that help to optimize network costs and to identify the most – and least – profitable service contracts, so that better business decisions can be made.

Finally, it’s fully aligned with eTOM revenue assurance programs. So, if you are embarking on a process of benchmarking your revenue assurance maturity and following the eTOM model, then you need the right solutions in place to support these efforts. And, if you are trying to achieve compliance, then CROSS might just be the missing piece of the jigsaw you need.

 

[1] https://www.gartner.com/en/information-technology/glossary/revenue-assurance

[2] https://www.tmforum.org/strategic-program/revenue-assurance-in-depth/