Business Assurance – Going beyond assuring money flows

The clear-cut days of voice and data services are long gone as we see traditional telcos transform into digital service providers and enablers. And with this, multi-partner business models emerge, and operators have to orchestrate complex ecosystems, while at the same providing a simple and truly digital customer experience.

In the past two decades, we’ve seen most telcos establishing revenue assurance (RA) and fraud management functions where focus has widely been on assurance around money. But, with this new digital era comes time to market pressures, new regulations and demands for financial efficiency.

The bar is raised for business assurance (BA) disciplines to sustain value, and to assure this kind of complex digital transformation, organizations need to go beyond assuring money. They should cover assurance themes such as data-driven risk/change management and transformation in the context of value chains and ecosystems.

A bold way towards BA

About twenty experienced practitioners of BA disciplines, including providers, vendors and consultants, covering areas such as RA, fraud management and risk management came together in February this year at TM Forum’s Action Week in Lisbon to agree on a bold way forward on assuring business. TM Forum’s BA initiative was established last year based on open collaboration principles to ensure that non-members can also participate in the group.

In Lisbon, the group finalized and signed a Business Assurance Manifesto with the overall goal “to establish, in a collaborative manner, BA best practices that will improve customer experience and business performance”.

The group agreed on the following guiding principles to highlight combined ambitions:

  • BA will create and protect the value of new digital and connected services – “assurance by design”
  • BA will become embedded in decision-making processes
  • BA will facilitate the continual optimization of business performance
  • BA will facilitate continual improvement and monetization
  • BA will facilitate the generation and maintenance of trust across ecosystems whilst balancing risk and reward for stakeholders

The group committed to further sharpening the capabilities listed below (and in the manifesto), capabilities which are essential for creating value beyond money assurance:

  • Automated tools to monitor the flow of data and money across value chains
  • Detailed and data-driven risk management
  • Detailed insights into issue resolution including root-causes
  • Cross-domain access to and knowledge of data analytics practices
  • A center of excellence for proactive assurance and facilitation

A strong core is key

The manifesto defined three high-level goals to assure companies’ digital evolution: 1. Core business assurance (Function), 2. Transformation/migration assurance, 3. Ecosystem assurance. Where number one, “Core business assurance” is strong, so then can be the second and third. It is a little bit like endurance sports. The core part of the body needs to be well trained to make it to the marathon finishing line.

To strengthen the core, the business assurance group defined the following area objectives:

  • Assure profit maximization and value chains
  • Provide value chain insights/visibility, using data analytics, to improve services and automation

Both technology solutions and data analytics are important drivers to improve the core and to place practices into uncovered value chains. BA organizations ensure visibility and quality across processes and on a data flow level, which provides valuable insights for important changes.

Assuring transformation and ecosystems

To govern and facilitate change and transformation, organizations act as active risk management advocates. This ensures that essential controls will be in place to avoid leakages and dysfunctional processes. To ensure sufficient proactivity, the group defined the following area objectives:

  • Assure customer experience during change and transformation
  • Facilitate decision-making on risk and assurance topics

The area objectives for ecosystem assurance relate to “assurance by design” principles. The BA group accentuated the following objectives to assure integrity across digital businesses, from customers to partners:

  • Assure digital services so that they work from day one and generate money
  • Protect and contribute to digital growth

In short, the group aims to convey trust throughout ecosystems.

Why not join us?

Participants commonly realize personal value from the shared and gained insights, and through the early adoption of best practices in their companies. They develop professionally and sharpen their strategies, improving the value of their contribution to their companies

To ensure that the BA group members build BA best practices on prioritized subjects, the group established various workstreams across the three high-level goals (1. core business assurance, 2. transformation/migration assurance, 3. Ecosystem assurance). One such workstream, for example, revolves around product lifecycles and API assurance.

Open collaboration and transparency is our mantra. Ambitions are our drivers. Would you like to join the group to share your ideas and experience, and contribute to concrete projects?

If yes, please drop me an email ([email protected]). Also, don’t hesitate to state your own views here. We love feedback!


    About The Author

    Head of Risk & Assurance

    Rene is Head of Risk & Assurance at Telia Company, Finland. He is responsible for managing GRC (governance, risk & compliance), fraud management, revenue assurance and credit control. He has also been the leader of the TM Forum’s global RA survey since 2014. Additionally, Rene is one of the driving forces behind the new TM Forum’s Business Assurance Initiative. In his co-lead role, Rene’s ambition is to help professions in the Business Assurance area to acquire capabilities to master future challenges and to become proactive value drivers in their companies. Rene has over 15 years of industry expertise and has spent 10 years in international consulting and auditing, with a background in GRC, RA and outsourcing/partner management. He recently received an outstanding contributor award for thought leadership in his area.

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