Each year the TM Forum holds events in Europe and US where members (including service providers, vendors and systems integrators) come together in an open forum to work on current projects and define objectives for the coming six months. These are known as Team Action Weeks (TAW) and provide the core activity for a number of area-specific teams.
The weather was pretty wild, blowing in off the Atlantic, but attendees of Team Action Week in Lisbon recently were able to storm through a packed agenda. They set a very high standard in productivity and teamwork that will be hard to beat at future events. Perhaps the highlight of the week was the combined sessions where various teams joined to get a better understanding of what each did and how they could work together in future to keep programs more in sync.
One of the main objectives of merging the Global Billing Association (GBA) into the TM Forum (now known as the Revenue Management Initiative) was to update and improve the definitions around revenue management in the existing programs. During a combined Revenue Management/Business Process Framework (eTOM)/Application Framework (TAM) session the RM team was delighted to discover that processes it had identified as missing or poorly defined in the Business Process Framework (eTOM) were well defined at the application level in the Application Framework (TAM). It could simply be a case or reverse-engineering to get them in sync.
At another combined session where the Service Delivery Framework (SDF) team presented all the components of an SDF, poor old rating and billing were the very last items on the list that needed addressing. The RM team took the opportunity to point out that without the 'money' bit, the rest was not viable.
As the key word in the TM Forum is 'collaboration' these combined sessions should become a feature of all future TAWs.
In summary the RA team agenda introduced discussion on the economical impact of RA (a hot topic in the current economic climate) and margin assurance (how to accurately determine and maintain margins). A Margin Assurance Catalyst, demonstrating how it would work, is being planned for TM Forum's premier event, Management World, Nice in May. There will also be an expansion of the RA benchmarking program and surveys as well as the release of the RA maturity study, which was due out at the end of February.
The RM team is focusing on completing updates to eTOM, with particular emphasis in the pre-paid segment. It is reviewing a suggestion put forward by Oracle that the TM Forum supervise an independent billing process benchmark that pits billing systems against each other in a set of processes. The objective will be that service providers issuing RFPs will be able to source information on each system rather than rely on the responses from each vendor.
A major change in the way TM Forum members communicate is underway with the launch of its new web-based Community Forum. This will be used as the main communication and collaboration medium moving forward. Non-members will be able to view the groups but members will have full participation rights.
Go to www.tmforum.org/Community and see for yourself.