Six best practices that will help you keep pace with innovation and drive value from your telecom service
Enterprises can have tens of thousands of dollars of telecom bills per month.
If you manage your company’s communications expenses, you know how challenging it is to stay on top your of invoices – especially when they come in increments of less than $100 per employee.
Traditionally, enterprises have used manual processes, such as spreadsheets, to manage their telecom expenses.
“Manual processes are slow, inefficient, and labour-intensive,” said Timothy C. Colwell, SVP, Efficiency First® Adoption, AOTMP, global leaders in telecom management best practices and industry standards.
“If you rely on them, you must wait for decision-makers to review and approve each invoice. This leaves you with a small window of time to pay a bill, which can lead to missed payments, late charges, and even service cancellations.”
Manual processes also harm your ability to meet business and customer demands.
Telecom Expense Management Is Evolving
Over the past few years, innovations have re-shaped the telecom expense management (TEM) landscape. The “T” in TEM used to mean “telecom” but it now also includes “technology.”
For example, mobile devices, cloud services, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have changed how we communicate. Mobile devices often replace desk phones, voicemails, and land connections. Meanwhile, cloud services allow us to move from fixed assets to a consumption-based telecom model. And all of these technologies produce massive amounts of data.
But many enterprises don’t have the resources to manage their devices and track their data usage.
To support the technologies your employees and customers use to do business, you must rethink TEM. Here are six best practices that will help you get the most value from your telecom services:
1. Conduct a readiness assessment.
Get clear on your business needs before you speak with vendors. Look at your current processes and identify any gaps in the following areas:
- Inventory management and change control
- Sourcing management
- Procurement and order management
- Invoice management
- Expense management: validation and optimization
- Usage management and chargeback
- Payment processing
- Managed mobility services
- Business intelligence
“Understanding your challenges in the above areas will help you determine which telecom features are the most important to you,” said Joe Basili, Managing Director, Technology Expense Management Industry Association.
“Armed with this knowledge, you can better communicate your needs to vendors and compare your options.”
2. Determine how well your vendor can support you.
Ask your vendor if they have worked with enterprises that are similar to yours. Do they have experiences with companies that have comparable telecom footprints? If so, how well did they help these enterprises solve their challenges and achieve their goals?
3. Automate your manual TEM processes.
Automating your TEM gives you in-depth insights into each employee’s data usage, so you can pool people who use similar amounts of data to the best plan. You can also use automation tools to identify your road warriors. Then, you can save money by giving them plans with larger allotments of data. Spreadsheets can’t give you the level of detail that is necessary on telecom usage across your enterprise.
4. Optimize your telecom services.
The telecom market is competitive, and service providers constantly run promos and launch new services. If you’re not happy with your current plan, you may have other options. Check out what your current provider is offering and ask if they can match you with a plan that better suits your employee usage.
5. Integrate TEM with your critical business systems.
Integrating your TEM data with data from other areas of your business will give you a complete picture of your telecom environment. For example, you can sync with AP to better track payments and process invoices faster.
AOTMP’s 2019 State of the Telecom Management Industry report recommends that you integrate your TEM and IT service management (ITSM) tools. The report states, “As technology grows more sophisticated – and in many ways, blends together – it only makes sense to combine the tools and expertise and administer telecom, IT, and mobility within the enterprise.”
When you combine TEM with ITSM, employees can quickly order pre-defined telecom plans from your preferred vendors. This will streamline your IT ordering processes and help you eliminate unauthorized telecom services.
6. Combine your telecom services into a single system.
Many enterprises store their telecom data in different systems. For example, you might only have access to data on a single service or region. Aggregating all of your telecom data lets you see the whole picture, not just pieces of the puzzle. Then, you can determine which services you use, how much you spend in each region, and more. This data empowers you to optimize your telecom services, reduce your costs, and boost your efficiencies.
As the TEM industry continues to evolve, you will have more opportunities to reduce your costs, improve your network, and connect with customers.
“TEM’s value proposition has grown as technology has evolved,” said Basili. “TEM used to be about cost savings but now it’s about using analytics, performance management, benchmarking and business intelligence to manage a network where everything is connected with mobility and IoT. Your network is critical to your enterprise’s success.”
To get the most value from TEM, enterprises need to expand their programs to manage all aspects of their networks. They also must integrate their TEM programs with technology management, so the “T” in TEM becomes technology management.