Email a colleague    

October 2012

Margin Analysis: Bolting Profit Assurance onto a Revenue Assurance Platform

Margin Analysis: Bolting Profit Assurance onto a Revenue Assurance Platform

Margin analysis is one of the hottest trends in business assurance and telecom analytics.

As a product manager for cVidya’s soon to be released margin assurance module for our MoneyMap platform, I’d like to share some perspective and explain what the excitement is all about.

To be honest, while margin analysis is hot, it’s not exactly new.  For years people have been performing margin analysis using Excel spreadsheets.  And in the early 90s, margin analysis was also a key benefit of owning a data warehouse.

So why are these approaches less than optimal?  I think the answer is they either take too much time or the results are not granular enough.  In a data warehouse approach it generally takes a good 15, 30 or 60 days to fully collect and analyze the data.  That’s pretty slow if your objective to manage your business in real-time.

Excel spreadsheets are great for producing periodic monthly, quarterly, and annual financial reports, especially where the inputs are aggregate (“coarse grain”) numbers.  But as soon as product categories are mixed and you need to segment results across “fine grain” customer groups and geographic regions, the Excel model becomes clumsy.

The Problem with Spreadsheets for Margin Analysis

I’d like to delve into the spreadsheet issue a little more to better explain why the Excel approach breaks down with added complexity.

Pretend you’re CFO at a mobile operator.  The overall costs of supplying an on-net service like SMS are very well known to you.  But a problem arises when you consider a bundled service where SMS is mixed, say, with the services you are buying from third party partners.

For example, let’s say I have a plan of 100 minutes of voice calls, 500 SMSs, 10 movies, and 20 ringtones.  The first two services are internal.  I know my SMS cost and the average cost of a voice call being dialed to various regions of the world.  But let’s suppose the subscriber makes a call to Russia and the call is routed through several international carriers who bill you for usage.  A case like that is much harder to model in a spreadsheet.

The same goes for content services like movies and ringtones that I buy from another provider.  First of all, the cost of a one particular movie could vary across different content providers.  Not only that, the way the movie is sold may vary.  One provider may charge $2 a movie; another provider charges you $500 for an unlimited number of downloads of the same movie.

So through this example, you begin to see how hard it is model such complexity in a spreadsheet.

But in our forthcoming margin analysis product in MoneyMap, we’ve taken into account the fact that many service providers want to enter costs derived from another system.  So we include places in the system where you can post external costs, say a computed average SMS cost.  That’s fine.

But in calculating the margin of service bundles that are mixture of on-net and off-net costs — that’s where the value add of a commercial software solution comes in.

Why is Margin Analysis Important?

Let’s step back and ask a more fundamental question: why are operators eager to implement this newer and better approach to margin analysis?  Well, here I would point you to two industry trends: increased competition and service complexity.  Consider these issues:

  • Multiple operators have been licensed to compete in any given geographic region, so tweaking services to achieve maximum profitability has never been more important;
  • Over the Top Players in mobile broadband are not only eating scarce bandwidth, but are offering profit killing alternatives to mobile voice and SMS, such as VoIP and proprietary text messaging.
  • Revenue per Subscriber is decreasing, so to remain profitable, protect the business, and exploit opportunities, every carrier needs to have a margin analysis capability.
  • Bundling of services has exploded.  Indeed, many operators have become triple- or quad-play providers, making it harder to gain a consolidated view of margins; and,
  • Finally, Interconnect and Content Partners have expanded, underscoring the need to monitor these partners from a service profitability view.  Even a cable or satellite company need margin analysis because they buy external carrier services and content and need to better understand what they are buying.

The Benefits of Margin Analysis

Many departments at a telco will find margin analysis useful, but marketing and finance probably get the most benefit because it’s all about analyzing the profitability of different products and services.

With usage data collected from the network plus invoices to subscribers and from third party partners, we can analyze each and every subscriber and service.

Here are the most important uses of margin analysis:

  • Pricing Plan Analysis — Marketing  can analyze whether a particular pricing plan has a high or a low margin.  They can also analyze the usage pattern of customers using a particular plan.  Incidentally, the popularity of flat rate billing makes margin analysis doubly important because the rates you charge for the service are less subject to change.  If the usage of certain elements in the pricing plan go up unexpectedly, the service could quickly become unprofitable or even turn into a loss.
  • Service Hierarchies — Margin analysis can reveal the margins on different hierarchies of a service.  For example, if the service is international calls to Germany, you can also examine the margins on a sub-service — such as international calls to mobile phones in Germany.
  • Market Segmentation — Margin analysis allows you to look at customer profitability in great detail.  You can see the margins for subscribers living in a specific region or business customers in a particular industry.  And tracking service over a full year permits comparing services in different times of the year.
  • LTE Service Monitoring — LTE  basically changes how we think of a service.  For instance, LTE services have hooks to allow you to base pricing on the quality of service or bandwidth consumed.  Services can be enhanced during an actual session.  All of these factors will make it harder to analyze the LTE service margins.
  • Friends and Family Plans in Mobile Data — Verizon’s Share Data Plan collects and combines usage from multiple family members across 10 devices -iPhones and iPads for example.  The idea is the customer pays a flat rate such as $200 for 10 devices.  Well, a service like that requires constant vigilance to ensure it remains profitable because there are many variables in the service that could spike up costs.
  • Experimentation and Testing — Finally, since the uptake of particular services is getting tougher and tougher to forecast, being able to assess the margins of a product 24 hours after launch becomes critical to making adjustments to the product, particularly as it’s been tested in a small market and full-market roll-out.
Margin Analysis

Sorting out Revenue, Direct Costs & Indirect Costs

The whole objective of margin analysis is to understand the financial profit or loss status of individual telecoms products, services, and packages.  To do that we subtract the total revenues of a particular product with its costs?

Sounds easy, right?  Well, it would be easier if we didn‘t have to deal with two entirely different kinds of costs.  There are the direct costs associated with the particular service you are trying to get the margin of.  Then, there are also hundreds of indirect costs such as the salaries of people, marketing costs, etc.

Luckily data on indirect costs is relatively easy to obtain.  That data lives in a telco’s financial system and is computed by adding up payroll, purchases and the like.  Now, there are many different ways to combine indirect costs with direct cost to arrive at a full-loaded margin analysis.

cVidya’s approach is to leave the method of combining direct and indirect costs up to the individual operator.  Instead, we focus on the hard part — sorting out the direct costs of the individual services, products, and bundles.

The difficulty here comes from the need to gather direct costs from data sources scattered across the telecom enterprise.  For instance, interconnect contracts are managed by the business.  Usage collection is done by engineering.  Pricing plans are done by marketing.  In short, many pieces of the organization jigsaw puzzle need to come together.

Merely collecting information from all these sources is challenging.  Then there’s the added task of managing the many algorithms or formulas used to calculate profitability.

Billing cycles add another huge level of complexity: since telecoms bill on many days of the month, so you have to figure out how to align those billing cycles to get an accurate margin.

Volume commitments to partners are yet another complicating factor.  For instance, in content settlement, the rate may be $100,000 per month for a certain level of subscriber purchases, but $150,000 per month if that volume commitment is not met.

So sorting out all these complexities — and fitting them in with the unique needs of individual telcos -- is where the real value of margin analysis software comes in.

Easy to Implement — Based on Revenue Assurance Data

As I mentioned at the outset, the great news for financial and revenue assurance professionals is that margin analysis isn‘t one of those costly applications that only large carriers can afford.  On the contrary, at cVidya, we are implementing it as a “bolt-on” solution to RA.

RA software essentially paves the way for margin analysis because every department who has an RA solution already has most of the source data already collected, normalized, and augmented with added data such as the demographic, regional, and network information associated with customers.

Adding margin analysis to RA brings some nice advantages.  The analytics information is online and users can interact with it dynamically to drill down to specific segments or even create new alerts.  And because the platform is based on xDR-level data as opposed to just aggregate numbers, you can view the various dimensions data in highly granular segmentations.

Here are some examples of the flexibility this new style of margin analysis solution delivers:

  • High segmentation — In most cases today, margin analysis today is per plan, but with a revenue assurance-based solution, you can drill down, say, to international calls made on a mobile phone from the financial district of Milan, Italy on the second week of November.
  • Alarm when Margins Deviate from Normal — The user can decide what types of margin changes trigger alarms.  For example, you can set an alarm threshold to go off when the margin on traffic with an international carrier goes down by 25%.
  • Dynamic segmentation — The data dimensions are fully under the user’s control, enabling highly customized analysis.  For instance, you can compare the margins of specific media vendors serving the youth market by youth category, time, and region.


Margin analysis, catalyzed by big data platforms and leveraged by revenue assurance systems already in place, brings some exciting new business-optimization power.

It will allow a telecom organization to deliver not just revenue assurance, but real-time and fine-grained “profit assurance” as well.

Copyright 2012 Black Swan Telecom Journal

Efrat Nissimov

Efrat Nissimov

Efrat is the Director of Product Management in the Marketing department in cVidya, responsible for the Revenue Assurance, Fraud Management and Risk Management products and solutions.  Efrat has 17 years of experience in the communications and telecom industry.  Prior to joining cVidya, Efrat worked 10 years in TTI Telecom (now part of TEOCO) as a Product Manager and Solution Engineer of the CDRs products.  Prior to this position, Efrat worked in the Engineering and Operations Departments in two leading Communication Service Providers in Israel.   Contact Efrat via

Black Swan Solution Guides & Papers

cSwans of a Feather

  • Atlanta-lytics: New Telecom Conference Features Revenue and Customer Analytics by Dan Baker — A new telecom conference on analytics in Atlanta (January 29 — 31) is shaping up to be a key event for people who want to stay abreast of this fast moving field.  Black Swan is hosting a half-day, pre-conference workshop entitled, “Financial and Revenue Analytics” featuring seven speakers, many of whom are contributors to this magazine.  Detailed program guide is enclosed.
  • Big Data Financial Analytics: Creating Business Value for Tier 1 Telecoms interview with John Devolites & Atul Jain — What exactly is an analytics company?  This interview with executives at TEOCO helps defines this new breed of telecom solution vendor — a cross between software, consulting, and assurance supplier.  Along with a few Tier 1 case studies, the interview discusses: big-data vs. sampling, analytics project management, and the importance of data access.
  • Margin Analysis: Bolting Profit Assurance onto a Revenue Assurance Platform by Efrat Nissimov — Margin analysis is one of the hottest trends in business assurance.  But what’s all the excitement about?  This article explains the benefits, the market forces driving its adoption, and its advantages over Excel and heritage data warehouse approaches in terms of flexibility, data granularity and quicker time to access.  The author also touts major cost savings if margin analysis is deployed as a module within an existing revenue assurance suite.
  • Is Offering Free International LD on Your Horizon?  Follow These Checkpoints by Hulya Altinsoy — Free is a magic word for consumers.  So how about adding free international long distance (LD) to your list of services?  While free international LD serivce is fraught with risk, the article presents a  5-point checklist to help get your bearings before you make the leap.  The article also presents an analysis of billions of minutes in international LD calls by U.S. wireless carriers.

Related Articles

  • Tokopedia, Indonesia’s E-Commerce King, Partners with 11 Million Merchants; Adopts Multi-Cloud to Drive Innovation interview with Warren Aw & Ryan de Melo — Indonesia’s Tokopedia, founded in 2009, has grown to become one of world’s leading e-commerce players.  Read about its success, technology direction, and multi-cloud connectivity adoption.
  • Bridge Alliance: Knocking Down Regional & Mobile Connectivity Barriers so Connected Car Markets Get Rolling in Asia interview with Kwee Kchwee — The CEO of an Asian consortium of mobile operators explains how they  help simplify and harmonize their members‘ operations in support of multi-national corporations.  This integration is enabling two huge industries to come together in Asia: auto manufacturing and telco.
  • Epsilon’s Infiny NaaS Platform Brings Global Connection, Agility & Fast Provision for IoT, Clouds & Enterprises in Southeast Asia, China & Beyond interview with Warren Aw — Network as a Service, powered by Software Defined Networks, are a faster, more agile, and more partner-friendly way of making data global connections.  A leading NaaS provider explains the benefits for cloud apps, enterprise IT, and IoT.
  • PCCW Global: On Leveraging Global IoT Connectivity to Create Mission Critical Use Cases for Enterprises interview with Craig Price — A leading wholesale executive explains the business challenges of the current global IoT scene as it spans many spheres: technical, political, marketing, and enterprise customer value creation.
  • Senet’s Cloud & Shared Gateways Drive LoRaWAN IoT Adoption for Enterprise Businesses, Smart Cities & Telecoms interview with Bruce Chatterley — An IoT netowork pioneer explains how LoRaWAN tech fits in the larger IoT ecosystem.  He gives use case examples, describes deployment restraints/costs, and shows how partnering, gateway sharing, and flexible deployment options are stimulating growth.
  • ARM Data Center Software’s Cloud-Based Network Inventory Links Network, Operations, Billing, Sales & CRM to One Database interview with Joe McDermott & Frank McDermott — A firm offering a cloud-based network inventory system explains the virtues of: a single underlying database, flexible conversions, task-checking workflow, new software business models, views that identify stranded assets, and connecting to Microsoft’s cloud platform.
  • Pure Play NFV: Lessons Learned from Masergy’s Virtual Deployment for a Global Enterprise interview with Prayson Pate — NFV is just getting off the ground, but one cloud provider to enterprises making a stir in virtual technology waters is Masergy.  Here are lessons learned from Masergy’s recent global deployment using a NFV pure play software approach.
  • The Digital Enabler: A Charging, Self-Care & Marketing Platform at the Core of the Mobile Business interview with Jennifer Kyriakakis — The digital enabler is a central platform that ties together charging, self-care, and marketing.  The article explains why leading operators consider digital enablers pivotal to their digital strategies.
  • Delivering Service Assurance Excellence at a Reduced Operating Cost interview with Gregg Hara — The great diversity and complexity of today’s networks make service assurance a big challenge.  But advances in off-the-shelf software now permit the configuring and visualizing of services across multiple technologies on a modest operating budget.
  • Are Cloud-Based Call Centers the Next Hot Product for the SMB Market? interview with Doron Dovrat — Quality customer service can improve a company’s corporate identity and drive business growth.  But many SMBs are priced out of acquiring modern call center technology.  This article explains the benefits of affordable and flexible cloud-based call centers.
  • Flexing the OSS & Network to Support the Digital Ecosystem interview with Ken Dilbeck — The need for telecoms to support a broader digital ecosystem requires an enormous change to OSS infrastructures and the way networks are being managed.  This interview sheds light on these challenges.
  • Crossing the Rubicon: Is it Time for Tier Ones to Move to a Real-Time Analytics BSS? interview with Andy Tiller — Will tier one operators continue to maintain their quilt works of legacy and adjunct platforms — or will they radically transform their BSS architecture into a new  system designed to address the new telecom era?  An advocate for radical transformation discusses: real-time analytics, billing for enterprises, partnering mashups, and on-going transformation work at Telenor.
  • Paradigm Shift in OSS Software: Network Topology Views via Enterprise-Search interview with Benedict Enweani — Enterprise-search is a wildly successful technology on the web, yet its influence has not yet rippled to the IT main stream.  But now a large Middle Eastern operator has deployed a major service assurance application using enterprise-search.  The interview discusses this multi-dimensional topology solution and compares it to traditional network inventory.
  • The Multi-Vendor MPLS: Enabling Tier 2 and 3 Telecoms to Offer World-Class Networks to SMBs interview with Prabhu Ramachandran — MPLS is a networking technology that has caught fire in the last decade.  Yet the complexity of MPLS has relegated to being mostly a large carrier solution.  Now a developer of a multi-vendor MPLS solutions explains why the next wave of MPLS adoption will come from tier 2/3 carriers supporting SMB customers.
  • Enabling Telecoms & Utilities to Adapt to the Winds of Business Change interview with Kirill Rechter — Billing is in the midst of momentous change.  Its value is no longer just around delivering multi-play services or sophisticated rating.  In this article you’ll learn how a billing/CRM supplier has adapted to the times by offering deeper value around the larger business issues of its telecom and utility clients.
  • Driving Customer Care Results & Cost Savings from Big Data Facts interview with Brian Jurutka — Mobile broadband and today’s dizzying array of app and network technology present a big challenge to customer care.  In fact, care agents have a hard time staying one step ahead of customers who call to report problems.  But network analytics comes to the rescue with advanced mobile handset troubleshooting and an ability to put greater intelligence at the fingertips of highly trained reps.
  • Hadoop and M2M Meet Device and Network Management Systems interview with Eric Wegner — Telecom big-data in networks is more than customer experience managment: it’s also about M2M plus network and element management systems.  This interview discusses the explosion in machine-to-machine devices, the virtues and drawbacks of Hadoop, and the network impact of shrink-wrapped search.
  • The Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure Boom: Is Your Sales/Engineering Team Equipped to Win? by Dan Baker — The build-out of enterprise clouds and data centers is a golden opportunity for systems integrators, carriers, and cloud providers.  But the firms who win this business will have sales and engineering teams who can drive an effective and streamlined requirements-to-design-to-order process.  This white paper points to a solution — a collaborative solution designs system — and explains 8 key capabilities of an ideal platform.
  • Big Data: Is it Ready for Prime Time in Customer Experience Management? interview with Thomas Sutter — Customer experience management is one of the most challenging of OSS domains and some suppliers are touting “big data” solutions as the silver bullet for CEM upgrades and consolidation.  This interview challenges the readiness of big data soluions to tackle OSS issues and deliver the cost savings.  The article also provides advice on managing technology risks, software vendor partnering, and the strategies of different OSS suppliers.
  • Calculated Risk: The Race to Deliver the Next Generation of LTE Service Management interview with Edoardo Rizzi — LTE and the emerging heterogeneous networks are likely to shake up the service management and customer experience management worlds.  Learn about the many new network management challenges LTE presents, and how a small OSS software firm aims to beat the big established players to market with a bold new technology and strategy.
  • Decom Dilemma: Why Tearing Down Networks is Often Harder than Deploying Them interview with Dan Hays — For every new 4G LTE and IP-based infrastructure deployed, there typically a legacy network that’s been rendered obsolete and needs to be decommissioned.  This article takes you through the many complexities of network decom, such as facilities planning, site lease terminations, green-safe equipment disposal, and tax relief programs.
  • Migration Success or Migraine Headache: Why Upfront Planning is Key to Network Decom interview with Ron Angner — Shutting down old networks and migrating customers to new ones is among the most challenging activities a network operators does today.  This article provides advice on the many network issues surrounding migration and decommissioning.  Topics discussed include inventory reconciliation, LEC/CLEC coordination, and protection of customers in the midst of projects that require great program management skills.
  • Navigating the Telecom Solutions Wilderness: Advice from Some Veteran Mountaineers interview with Al Brisard — Telecom solutions vendors struggle mightily to position their solutions and figure out what to offer next in a market where there’s considerable product and service crossover.  In this article, a veteran order management specialist firm lays out its strategy for mixing deep-bench functional expertise with process consulting, analytics, and custom API development.
  • Will Telecoms Sink Under the Weight of their Bloated and Out-of-Control Product Stacks? interview with Simon Muderack — Telecoms pay daily for their lack of product integration as they constantly reinvent product wheels, lose customer intelligence, and waste time/money.  This article makes the case of an enterprise product catalog.  Drawing on central catalog cases at a few Tier 1 operators, the article explains the benefits: reducing billing and provisioning costs, promoting product reuse, and smoothing operations.
  • Virtual Operator Life: Enabling Multi-Level Resellers Through an Active Product Catalog interview with Rob Hill — The value of product distribution via virtual operators is immense.  They enable a carrier to sell to markets it cannot profitably serve directly.  Yet the need for greater reseller flexibility in the bundling and pricing of increasingly complex IP and cloud services is now a major channel barrier.  This article explains what’s behind an innovative product catalog solution that doubles as a service creation environment for resellers in multiple tiers.
  • Telecom Blocking & Tackling: Executing the Fundamentals of the Order-to-Bill Process interview with Ron Angner — Just as football teams need to be good at the basics of blocking and tackling, telecoms need to excel at their own fundamental skillset: the order-to-cash process.  In this article, a leading consulting firm explains its methodology for taking operators on the path towards order-to-cash excellence.  Issues discussed include: provisioning intervals; standardization and simplicity; the transition from legacy to improved process; and the major role that industry metrics play.
  • Wireline Act IV, Scene II: Packaging Network & SaaS Services Together to Serve SMBs by John Frame — As revenue from telephony services has steadily declined, fixed network operators have scrambled to support VoIP, enhanced IP services, and now cloud applications.  This shift has also brought challenges to the provisioning software vendors who support the operators.  In this interview, a leading supplier explains how it’s transforming from plain ol‘ OSS software provider to packager of on-net and SaaS solutions from an array of third party cloud providers.
  • Telecom Merger Juggling Act: How to Convert the Back Office and Keep Customers and Investors Happy at the Same Time interview with Curtis Mills — Billing and OSS conversions as the result of a merger are a risky activity as evidenced by famous cases at Fairpoint and Hawaiian Telcom.  This article offers advice on how to head off problems by monitoring key operations checkpoints, asking the right questions, and leading with a proven conversion methodology.
  • Is Order Management a Provisioning System or Your Best Salesperson? by John Konczal — Order management as a differentiator is a very new concept to many CSP people, but it’s become a very real sales booster in many industries.  Using electronics retailer BestBuy as an example, the article points to several innovations that can — and are — being applied by CSPs today.  The article concludes with 8 key questions an operator should ask to measure advanced order management progress.
  • NEC Takes the Telecom Cloud from PowerPoint to Live Customers interview with Shinya Kukita — In the cloud computing world, it’s a long road from technology success to telecom busness opportunity.  But this story about how NEC and Telefonica are partnering to offer cloud services to small and medium enterprises shows the experience of early cloud adoption.  Issues discussed in the article include: customer types, cloud application varieties, geographic region acceptance, and selling challenges.
  • Billing As Enabler for the Next Killer Business Model interview with Scott Swartz — Facebook, cloud services, and Google Ads are examples of innovative business models that demand unique or non-standard billing techniques.  The article shows how flexible, change-on-the-fly, and metadata-driven billing architectures are enabling CSPs to offer truly ground breaking services.
  • Real-Time Provisioning of SIM Cards: A Boon to GSM Operators interview with Simo Isomaki — Software-controlled SIM card configuration is revolutionizing the activation of GSM phones.  The article explains how dynamic SIM management decouples the selection of numbers/services and delivers new opportunities to market during the customer acquisition and intial provisoining phase.
  • A Cynic Converted: IN/Prepaid Platforms Are Now Pretty Cool interview with Grant Lenahan — Service delivery platforms born in the IN era are often painted as inflexible and expensive to maintain.  Learn how modern SDPs with protocol mediation, high availability, and flexible Service Creation Environments are delivering value for operators such as Brazil’s Oi.
  • Achieving Revenue Maximization in the Telecom Contact Center interview with Robert Lamb — Optimizing the contact center offers one of the greatest returns on investment for a CSP.  The director of AT&T’s contact center services business explains how telecoms can strike an “artful balance” between contact center investment and cost savings.  The discussion draws from AT&T’s consulting with world class customers like Ford, Dell, Discover Financial, DISH Network, and General Motors.
  • Mobile Broadband: The Customer Service Assurance Challenge interview with Michele Campriani — iPhone and Android traffic is surging but operators struggle with network congestion and dropping ARPUs.  The answer?  Direct  resources and service quality measures to ensure VIPs are indeed getting the quality they expect.  Using real-life examples that cut to the chase of technical complexities, this article explains the chief causes of service quality degradation and describes efficient ways to deal with the problem.
  • Telco-in-a-Box: Are Telecoms Back in the B/OSS Business? interview with Jim Dunlap — Most telecoms have long since folded their merchant B/OSS software/services businesses.  But now Cycle30, a subsidiary of Alaskan operator GCI, is offering a order-to-cash managed service for other operators and utilities.  The article discusses the company’s unique business model and contrasts it with billing service bureau and licensed software approaches.
  • Bricks, Mortar & Well-Trained Reps Make a Comeback in Customer Management interview with Scott Kohlman — Greater industry competition, service complexity, and employee turnover have raised the bar in the customer support.  Indeed, complex services are putting an emphasis on quality care interactions in the store, on the web, and through the call center.  In this article you’ll learn about innovations in CRM, multi-tabbed agent portals,  call center agent training, customer treatment philosophies, and the impact of  self-service.
  • 21st Century Order Management: The Cross-Channel Sales Conversation by John Konczal — Selling a mobile service is generally not a one-and-done transaction.  It often involves several interactions — across the web, call center, store, and even kiosks.  This article explains the power of a “cross-channel hub” which sits above all sales channels, interacts with them all, and allows a CSP to keep the sales conversation moving forward seamlessly.
  • Building a B/OSS Business Through Common Sense Customer Service by David West — Delivering customer service excellence doesn‘t require mastering some secret technique.  The premise of this article is that plain dealing with customers and employees is all that’s needed for a winning formula.  The argument is spelling out in a simple 4 step methodology along with some practical examples.