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In the Age of Information, effective utilization of technology in the workplace is crucial for growing and establishing businesses. Recently, the focus has been on corporate liable devices, specifically those with wireless capabilities. Managing these necessary technologies, however, can be complicated and counterproductive; oftentimes, technology implemented to foster workplace efficiency ends up being more of a hindrance than a help.

managing tem spendingThe volume of wireless technology in the workplace has recently escalated, and data usage as a result of such technology is projected to increase as these devices become more sophisticated. Left unmanaged, corporate liable devices and data spending can become overwhelming, and companies might pay large sums to telecom vendors without knowing exactly where their money is going. While Telecom Expense Management (TEM) is not a new field, it is undoubtedly the most efficient and long-term solution to this influx of technology.

While many TEM providers offer full lifecycle solutions which are designed and priced as a “one size fits all,” some offer individualized components of that process, tailor-made to fit the client’s needs. That said, it is important to be aware of your business’s specific needs relative to the solutions being offered to ensure that you receive services on par with current Telecom Expense Management best practices. Outlined below are five critical components to look for when selecting a TEM vendor:

  • Inventory Management – In years past, the most complicated thing to worry about when performing proper Inventory Management was calling that unknown number on the Nextel bill and having to talk with Bob the New Guy from accounting for twenty minutes about his sick cat. Times have changed!
    • Consolidation and a detailed inventory, combined with visibility, are critical when it comes to cost management, cost allocation and security of sensitive corporate data. Without total visibility, proper accountability is impossible.  A comprehensive inventory also lends itself to a necessary monthly audit, allows complete month-over-month optimization, and supports a detailed planning process that will lead to better contracted Rates, Terms and Conditions and Service Level Agreements when working to negotiate the company’s next wireless contract.
  • Contract Management – While that beige, four-layer filing cabinet is certainly attractive in any office setting, times have changed![pullquote]Technology is evolving, and TEM is too! [/pullquote]
    • Contract management is essential for companies wishing to ensure that the hard work done in the planning and negotiation stage is properly accounted for when it comes to invoicing. Gartner estimates an approximate 20% error rate for telecommunication invoices.  Centralization of wireless contracts helps ensure that those errors are quickly identified, that commitment levels are tracked and met, and that service levels are being adhered to on a monthly basis.
  • Invoice Management – Long gone are the spreadsheet management days your father used during the Motorola flip phone craze of the early 90s. Times have changed! 
    • Proper Invoice Management optimizes the accounts payable process, automates the allocation of wireless cost and reduces manual intervention that may cause human error. In the lifecycle of wireless expense management, collection, allocation and proper payment of invoices on a monthly basis can become more and more challenging as inventories grow.  A comprehensive and automated approach can prevent service disruptions, eliminate late payment fees and reduce error rates.
  • Visibility, Audit, and Optimization–Proper audit and optimization does not mean the continued use of a program created by your I.T. guy while he was simultaneously working on a solution to block all employees from using MSN and AOL messenger on company time. Times have changed!
    • It is extraordinarily common for U.S. companies to overpay for voice and data. Proper visibility, automation, complex algorithms and access to line level details are crucial to performing an effective audit and optimization each month. When current and relevant technologies combine with domain expertise companies, recurring cost, proper coverage and adherence to corporate policies should be expected.Telecom Expense Management
  • Market Place –Getting 14 calls a day from employees wanting to know when their new iPhone will be delivered: 40 hours a week. Getting calls from your boss and her boss wondering why everyone in the company is ordering the new iPhone: 20 hours a week. Training employees on the web-based self-serve solution that will handle all of their ordering needs: timeless. Times have changed!The Market Place fosters direct interaction between end users of corporate liable devices and a pre-approved catalog. Employees obtain streamlined clearance to order required devices, which are delivered directly to the employee, fully equipped and staged to reflect his or her specific needs. This process is particularly cost-effective with regard to new hires; through the Market Place, your company can quickly identify a new employee’s needs and deploy the corresponding technology. The Market Place’s direct deployment method is also conducive to remote and work-from-home employees.

Regardless of a company’s size or utilization of technology, there are benefits to be derived from commissioning a third party to manage telecom spend. While hard-dollar savings achieved through auditing and invoice management are critical to a business’s success, third-party involvement invariably results in substantial soft-dollar savings as well; as opposed to the internal management of expenses, the utilization of an external solutions provider allows for a greater allocation of time toward primary functions. Thus, the streamlining of organizational, logistical and business processes allows your company to focus on its own core competencies while remaining confident that their telecom spend is effectively managed.