Professional education was one of the key themes discussed at RAG London 2016, and the audience expressed a clear desire for better training opportunities. Since then, the RAG Committee has explored options for developing a global online communications risk and assurance course, and presented them at RAG London 2017. Broadly speaking, the two main alternatives are as follows.
- RAG develops a course in-house, compiling the necessary content by seeking donations of intellectual property from telcos and vendors, and building this up via the RAG Library and the RAG Innovation Program. This content would then be supplied free of charge using a cloud-based platform. However, the costs involved in procuring this platform would mean RAG would need to raise additional funding from sponsors.
- An outsourced education provider develops a course with the support and endorsement of RAG. The content would continue to be the intellectual property of the provider, who would charge for access to their online platform, but RAG members would benefit from a discount or would have access to a portion of the course for free. The outsourced provider would also be responsible for the costs in developing their own delivery platform. RAG’s role would be to review the material, ensuring it is fit for purpose, and approving it for use if it meets RAG’s expectations.
The response to the RAG London 2017 education session was so strong that there was insufficient time to cover all the many questions asked by the audience using our interactive smartphone Q&A service. Session moderator Eric Priezkalns subsequently worked with panellists Michael Lazarou and Marcus Bryant to provide answers to every question not answered during the session; those answers can be found in this article on Eric’s website, Commsrisk.
The consensus of the meeting was that both proposals need further work, and that they should be explored in parallel. It is the intention to continue to research both alternatives and to present a more detailed analysis at the RAG Bonn Conference in June. At all times the RAG Committee is conscious that the variety of differing goals will force us to seek effective and realistic compromises that also satisfy the needs of the greatest number of professionals. We will continue to invite the feedback of the whole professional community as we seek to build upon recommendations made by the leaders of the RAG Education Program.
All feedback is welcomed as we seek to develop our education plan. You can provide feedback using the comments section below.
A Brief History of the RAG Education Program
During the final conference session at RAG London 2016 David Smith commented that our profession has not much improved over the last ten years. The lack of a comprehensive and universally-recognised education program is one factor that holds back our profession. Many in the audience agreed. With the goal of education in mind, David recommend a way forward.
In 2006 David drafted an action plan for a new education program on behalf of the Global Billing Association (GBA). That program was never implemented; soon afterwards the GBA merged into the TM Forum and the latter organisation adopted a very different approach to developing training courses. David offered to share his original proposals with the RAG, and the attendees agreed this would be a helpful starting point for determining how the RAG might develop its own education program. In outline, David recommended that RAG follow a collaborative approach which includes and builds upon material already made available by industry experts and academic institutions.
David’s original proposal documents were made available so anyone in the professional communications risk and assurance community, whether they are a RAG member or not, may comment and be encouraged to offer their own suggestions in response. His 2006 action plan is captured in the following documents, which can be freely downloaded:
- A formal proposal to create a ‘Professional Education Initiative Working Group’ (Word document, 49Kb). This proposal explains the objectives, approach and timetable for the group’s work, and also includes a draft syllabus.
- A breakdown of the content which could be included in a hypothetical syllabus aimed at people working in billing and revenue assurance (Powerpoint slides, 205Kb).
Though David’s draft syllabus was oriented around billing and revenue assurance it should be noted that the RAG has a more open scope, covering aspects of risk management and business assurance that are more diverse than the billing-oriented objectives that telco revenue assurance teams held in 2006. RAG is hence open to a more expansive view of what might be included in a professional education program aimed at the kind of people who join RAG. However, David’s suggestions provided a useful starting point for reviewing what would need to be included in a modern-day revenue assurance training course.
Since the sharing of David’s syllabus, two distinct solutions have been proposed. One favours the development of David’s approach by co-ordinating the voluntary efforts of RAG members. The other recognizes that such efforts can be very time-consuming, and proposes that a commercial partner be found and given the incentive to develop the course. Neither is demonstrably closer to success than the other, so the onus is on the supporters of each proposal to show what real progress they can make towards the successful development of a course. It hence remains an open possibility that two courses will be developed in parallel, possibly adjusted so they serve different markets.