The Extreme Billing Challenge Part 1: Is your Revenue Assurance Process better than Seven Sigma?

This is the first in a series of articles where we are looking at “extreme” billing.

What, you might ask, is extreme billing?  It is, essentially, a case study where the billing process performs at the extreme end of the capabilities of the people, software and technology who run the billing process.

We start with a case recently found in Europe which is performed on behalf of a fixed-line voice provider.

The measure is one of Revenue Assurance.  Local laws from the UK regulator, Ofcom, requires that calls are accurate to within +0.004% (or 1/25,000 records).  In other words, only 1/25,000 records can go missing before missing this target.  Those who strive for standards that are “Six Sigma” require a better accuracy – that of 0.00034% or 99.99966% accuracy.

However, the case we have uncovered is losing only 200 records in 100 million – or an accuracy of +/- 0.000002% or 99.999998% accuracy.  For those who seek the perfection of many degrees of standard deviation – this is, in fact, Seven Sigma!

Yet accuracy is only part of the story.  The system handles complex provisioning for business circuits and holds the accuracy across the more tricky aspects of termination and activation, mid-month product changes and customer choice for billing on a quarterly, annual or bi-annual basis, both in advance and in arrears.

So here’s the first Extreme Billing Challenge: Who can beat Seven Sigma in billing accuracy, day after day, week after week, year after year in the more complex B2B environment?

Most software vendors can’t guarantee such quality performance – because such extreme billing is not just about great software.  It requires great mastery of the billing process and the people that run it.  Yet how often are we swooned by software features at the expense of difficulty of implementation,  process excellence and local market knowledge?

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May the challenge begin!

Future challenges will try to find the world’s largest billing system (measure of scale of transactions), the world’s most secure billing system (measure of fraud), the world’s most advanced real-time processing engine (measure of scale for real-time charging) as well as any other aspects of extreme billing that readers have come across which they would like to share with readers of BillingViews.

If you would like to find out more about what’s behind the Extreme Billing series – or, indeed, suggest ideas for future themes, then please email the me at lorne(at)objectivedesigners (dot)com.

Picture licensed from iStockphoto – iStock_000008629076XSmall – Copying prohibited unless you buy a copy from them!

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Lorne Mitchell
About Lorne Mitchell 2 Articles
Lorne started his billing career as enterprise architect on BT’s Interconnect Billing system in the early 1990s. He subsequently went on to senior architecture and operational billing roles in Concert Communications, AT&T and KPN. Founding President of the European Billing Association, he then joined PwC Consulting (later bought by IBM) and spent several years working on billing and other business systems with Level (3), T-Mobile, Vodafone and Virgin Media before leaving IBM in 2008 to set up his own consulting practice, Objective Designers.

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