To effectively manage your company’s telecommunications infrastructure and expenses, it’s vital to take an approach that addresses every aspect of the life cycle of your system. Any single stage of a TEM system has the power to bring the entire program crashing down if not carefully examined and evaluated. In this post on telecom expense management best practices, we’ll show you how to manage every stage of your infrastructure, from purchasing to payment, and beyond, to ensure your company is getting the services you need at a price you can afford.
Stage One: Identify Your Pains and Define Your Goals
The first step in streamlining your telecommunications system is basic stocktaking: What do you have? What do you need? You can’t hope to manage your assets if you don’t even know what they are. Without centralized data on your devices, contracts, inventory, network and incident management, there is no way to determine if you are getting the best value from your carrier, or even if you’re getting all the services you need. A comprehensive audit of your systems should include:
- IT and telecommunications inventory – How many devices do you have? What are they used for? How current are they?
- Contracts and invoices – Enumerate all your contracts (with various carriers, if necessary). Do the invoices paid each month match up with the contracts? Are you paying multiple carriers for the same services?
- Network and incident management – Without a standardized system for recording network outages and incidents with service or equipment, it’s nearly impossible to spot a pattern in failing devices or overloaded services.
Once you know what you have, it’s important to identify what you hope to achieve with that information. The best TEM partner in the world can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re aiming for. Would you like to reduce your spending on telecommunications? Do you need to upgrade an aging or outdated system to expand service or decrease the risk of outages? Are you hoping to free up resources for reallocation? Determining your enterprise-wide telecommunications goal will help set the agenda for individual departments as you implement telecom expense management best practices.
Stage Two: Find a TEM Partner Who Can Help Plan Your Strategy
Not all TEM service providers are created equal. Different service providers have different areas of focus, and offer different services to help partner companies achieve their goals. Having identified your team’s aims in stage one, the next step is to find the service provider who is best positioned to help you reach your goals, based on your company size, budget and specific needs. Consider what you want from a telecom expense management partner:
- Telecommunications audits
- Consolidation of contracts and invoices
- Solution design and procurement
- Transitional and ongoing support
Don’t be tempted to base your selection on service provider fees. It’s important to find a TEM service provider with proven skills and established expertise in your field. After all, they not only have to know the ins and outs of the telecommunications industry, but also have inside understanding of your field to understand your needs. The right provider will not only help you as you choose solutions or upgrades to your existing telecommunications systems, but will also guide you skillfully through a maze of services and providers to ensure you always get exactly what you need.
Stage Three: Get Everyone in Your Organization on Board
Often the main source of discrepancies and inefficiencies within your telecommunications systems is a lack of cohesion between different departments. IT has the resources to identify the equipment or services you need and procure them, but then never see a bill – because all your invoices go to accounts payable. No matter how effective your finance department is, it will be difficult for them to keep track of duplicate devices or non-compliant contracts if they never see them – because those stay with IT, or even with workers in the field.
Establish relationships between your TEM service provider and all relevant departments to determine who will:
- Order services or devices
- Validate and pay bills
- Manage networks, outages and incidents
- Design solutions or plan expansions/upgrades
Using telecom expense management best practices to establish that the varying needs of each department will be met by your solution, you will drive adoption and compliance across your enterprise. A good TEM team will consider the needs of every part of your organization and go to bat for you with carriers to ensure that a new contract meets enterprise-wide requirements.
Stage Four: Implement New Solutions in Phases
Once you’ve identified inefficiencies and weaknesses in your infrastructure and developed solutions to address them, it can be tempting to rush in and try to accomplish cost reduction strategies, consolidations and implementation all in one fell swoop. While the potential benefits are enticing, tackling too many enterprise-wide changes at all once is a recipe for disaster.
Divide your complete approach into manageable chunks with quantifiable deliverables for each stage. How you choose to part out your strategy will, of course, depend on your business, and the magnitude of your project. Whether you separate your process itself into steps (like invoice validation, contract consolidation, etc) or implement the entire process but in individual areas of your organization, you’ll ensure the greatest chance of success with a measured approach to telecom expense management best practices.
Don’t be afraid to rely on the expertise of your service provider – after all, that’s what you hired them for. Take advantage of transition support for all implementations to ensure a seamless migration to your new system.
Stage Five: Have an Ongoing Management System in Place
The best-laid plans can go awry and change isn’t always easy. Maybe your business has always done something a certain way – it can be hard to make major changes across your entire enterprise. This is where a telecom expense management service provider brings something to the table that your team just doesn’t have: experience in this process. Assuming you’ve put some effort into selecting a service provider with an established reputation for success and proven results, your TEM provider has been here, done this.
Take advantage of the industry experience your provider has and rely on the support of their specialists for:
- Invoice reconciliation
- Technical support transitioning to new systems
- Troubleshooting and incident management
- Planning for future upgrades or moves
There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know it all, and there are numerous benefits to be realized by employing someone else’s expertise to gain a competitive edge yourself.
Employ Telecom Expense Management Best Practices with Crystal Technologies
Employing these five strategies can help you partner with the right TEM service provider and mean significant savings and infrastructure upgrades to your business. At Crystal Technologies, we offer complete support at every stage of your TEM process. To learn more about telecom expense management best practices, or to discuss your company’s needs, get in touch with us today. Our experts are here to help.