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© 2011 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
Chapter 6
Hammer and Tongs: 
The Tools of Revenue 
Assurance
Tools Overview
Eric Priezkalns
It is dicult to get a good, honest overview of revenue assurance (RA) tools� Vendors
tell you about the tools they oer, not the tools they do not oerHave you ever
noticed how every year their product oerings get broader and broader, yet they never
said there were gaps in the oering the year before? Consultants always play safe and
tell you about the state of tools 3 years ago, so communication providers rarely try
something new (though they also reserve the right to blame the consultants when
whatever they buy fails to work as expected, or worse does not deliver the anticipated
and promised nancial benets)And nobody talks about the niche tools provided
by niche providers (except the niche providers, of course) although these may be bet-
ter suited to the needs of some customers than the multipurpose oerings pushed
by more mainstream suppliers� Well, if you want some advice on how to go about
negotiating the mineeld of automating RA, here is my modest attempt to map a
way through�
is article will walk through the main issues in selecting the right tools for the
job� It gives a brief discussion of how to use the 4 “C”s of capture-convey-calculate-
collect to dene systematically what you are trying to accomplish with a detection
tool, and talks about how to match the detection tools to the objective� e article
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© 2011 by Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
also discusses what typically goes wrong when acquiring new tools and nishes by
listing generic strengths and weaknesses for dierent types of tool�
Two Types of Tools
Before we go any further, let us deal with the most common mistake of all when
talking about RA tools� ere is more than one possible goal for automation� e
two possible goals for automation are as follows: improved detection (what most
vendors talk about), and improved correction (which most vendors conveniently
forget to mention)If you only detect, and never correct, you are unlikely to add
much value to the business� However, detection is the challenge most easily solved
by automation, which is one real reason why it sometimes gets disproportionate
attention�
Most tools focus on detecting anomalies by comparing data sets and revealing
unexpected discrepancies� However, not every discrepancy is evidence of a leak� In
fact, low-quality data or poor design of the RA tool can lead to lots of false posi-
tives, where RA staspend most time conrming that the “issues” they identify
are not really issues at all� en again, when real issues are found, they need to
be acted upon�e RA team cannot simply nd leakages and then have no ideas
what to do about them, but in truth this sometimes happensIn the worst case,
real RA departments may regularly produce reports that nobody even reads� To
complete the circle, it is possible to automate workow and incident management
too� is aids the process of recovering leaks and stopping them from happening
again�
Vendors have steadily made their products more sophisticated, and now often
include some incident management capability with their detective tools� However,
such functionality may be limited and tends only to be exercised by a small group of
users� Instead of using software that is specic to RA to manage issues to resolution,
it may be better to take the outputs of detective systems and integrate with existing
incident management software used across the communication provideris may
initially be more challenging from a technical perspective, but technology is there
to help people do their jobs, and solving the problem of communicating issues has
the advantage of once and for all reducing the enormous burden in requiring people
to chase other people to execute RA improvements� It also reduces the burden in
reporting on who is and who is not responding to a clearly prioritized issue list, and
hence automation of issue management can play a vital role in teaching the business
new, and better, habits�
What Can Be Detected
ere are four kinds of processing when handling any transaction with the cus-
tomer (supplying a call, accepting an order for a new line, taking and supplying a
request for a new feature, etc):

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