Each quarter ATS will be sitting down with a revenue assurance, billing, or network expert from carriers around the world. We'll ask the questions and bring you the answers. Would you like to submit a question for the next interview, or would you like to be the person we interview? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This quarter, we were excited to have the opportunity to chat with Deborah Therien, Director of Revenue Assurance Bell Canada. Deborah has tremendous telecom experience and has spent the past 6 years in various positions at Bell Canada before becoming the Director of Revenue Assurance.
Guthrie: Telecom Revenue Assurance over the years has transitioned from small niche to full corporate visibility. What path led you to your current role as Director of Revenue Assurance at the largest communications company in Canada?
Therien: My path, is perhaps somewhat unusual from other RA leaders, who have a strong technical / marketing / or network background. I trained and grew from the business side. I was a partner in a CA firm (equivalent to CPA in the states) for many years before opening my own consulting company and then finally arriving at Bell Canada in the Corporate Strategy Department six years ago. This opportunity gave me great insight into all of the revenue streams at Bell. As you know, Bell is a quadruple player offering wireline, internet, business and wireless services. I then had some exposure to the wholesale business through a short stint in the company's supply and services (which included procurement, wholesale, supply chain, and real estate). And then finally last year I was rewarded with the lead role in RA. I support a fantastic strong team with varied backgrounds but with impressive skills, knowledge and experience.
Guthrie: The world is working its way out of recession, so is Bell Canada paying more attention to Revenue Assurance these days?
Therien: From my perspective, RA is redefining itself, from a checks and balances function to a role that is much more strategic and much more about customer satisfaction than detecting leakage. RA must be preventive in nature. The idea that RA should only be measured by one KPI (what benefits have you recovered) is being challenged and redefined. At a recent conference, it was clear that RA must be involved at the beginning of the product innovation process, as such prevent leaks before they start and ensure the customer is confident that the invoice they receive is .99999 correct. Such confidence will bolster the customers loyalty and in an age where gaining market share is effectively limited to poaching clients from your customers, RA can become a key differentiating factor.
Guthrie: What areas do you plan to focus on for the rest of 2011?
Therien: Currently we are focusing on evolving our role at Bell, we will map our key revenue streams, establish whether we will perform the primary control or rely on others processes and perform secondary controls and as such increase or overall coverage of revenue; we will certainly continue to work on projects that will generate benefits (increased billings) but we will also move into the planning stages of new products and services within all of our business units. Our goal is to ensure that basic elements of revenue controls are instituted at the front end, we will also test new products in their first few weeks of launch to determine whether orders are being managed accurately and whether usage if applicable is being tallied properly. We will become a true partner to the business and become much more effective in providing timely advice to our partners.
Guthrie: What role does data analytics play for you and your team?
Therien: Analytics are key to assessing the estimated leakage on projects, however, we want to evolve our current use of data analytics into a tool that helps us achieve our objective of becoming much more preventive - automated monitoring tools have recently been adopted at Bell but we also want the analytics to tally overall trends in all revenue streams to provide us with a much more macro view of revenue and the trends.
Guthrie: While the increasing trend in telecom has been towards wireless, as the director of wireline and wireless revenue assurance for Bell Canada, how do you divide your efforts between those two areas?
Therien: We have SPOC's that represent each business unit (wireless, wireline, business solutions). This ensures that we devote time to all revenue streams at Bell and by designing the team this way we can hire employees that have an understanding of the wireline billing process. With the advent of new services at Bell such as Bell IPTV the importance of wireline is key to Bell's growth strategy - faster internet, satellite or IPTV - we have all the elements to now compete effectively with our cable counterparts.
Guthrie: How has the ability to catch errors been affected by the increasing complexity of services offered?
Therien: It is difficult to detect all errors, there are new price plans, new products and services being offered at what sometimes feels on a weekly basis. Our relatively small team cannot be at all places at all times. We are currently identifying revenue streams where we play a role and more importantly highlighting those with which we have no role. We will then determine based on risk whether we should re-prioritize our focus. No matter the final outcome of this analysis, we will advise the business units of where revenues are within scope and where due to resourcing constraints and given risk assessment we will not a play a role. All to say that this prioritization should allow us to at least detect all material errors.
Guthrie: What role do vendors play in helping you with revenue assurance solutions?
Therien: Vendors are an important tool in allowing RA to become much more effective, more preventive than we were. We still have a lot of work to do here, we are just starting to use automated solutions and are hoping to incorporate these tools into discreet revenue streams in our business.
Guthrie: Where will your revenue assurance organization be in 3 years? What areas look promising for adding value?
Therien: In 3 years, we should have succeeded in clearly identifying our scope and the primary controls that we can rely on and through this assessment have doubled our overall coverage of revenue streams. As well we will be fully integrated into the New Product Innovation process within all revenue streams, i.e. specifically we will have been instrumental in working through the Cloud revenue and billing system, IPTV, etc. In three years I hope that RA is viewed as a key strategic customer satisfaction differentiator that can be seen as preventive rather than purely as a billing recovery function.
Guthrie: Thank you very much for your time Deborah.
Therien: Thank you.