Telecom Expense Management Begins with You

At GILL Technologies we always emphasize custom solutions for telecom cost audits and expense management. As Ted mentioned earlier this month, we typically submit multiple proposals so that clients can choose the option for their needs.

One of the biggest mistakes I see in this industry is when telecom expense management firms force companies to change their working communications strategies just to save a few bucks. They get businesses to reduce or increase the number of phones in play, encourage everyone to switch to VoIP and so on. While every business should explore alternatives to their current habits, why throw away a working communications style?

I was reminded of how important a customized, working process is just the other day, when I got on the phone with an overseas partner. We have many, many different communications avenues at our disposal, including teleconferencing, web conferencing and all kinds of telephony. Me? I made a standard phone call. I wanted a simple, direct medium where I could issue verbal instructions. Conferencing is great, but I wasn’t calling to brainstorm and collaborate — I was here to lead. VoIP saves money, but I didn’t want technical issues interrupting me.

I’m sure a lot of you can think of similar situations, where the right communications tool makes all the difference. For example, would you set up your “batphone” on a VoIP service? Cellular? Would you use IM instead? In fact, you probably want basic telephony: the most reliable medium. You might set up forwarding to other services, but you want the basic batphone to work every time, without any flashy features.

That’s why we talk about GILL Technologies as a “Total Communications Solution.” Every company has distinct needs. A comprehensive telecom expense management plan takes those into account so that communications cost efficiencies don’t make you change business operations. If saving money is giving you a headache, you’re not saving money. All the extra time and aggravation will eventually hit your bottom line. We want you to save money whenever you need a complex mobile communications plan — and we want you to save when it’s time to make a simple phone call, too. It’s your choice.

About the Author: George Gill is the President of GILL Technologies.

Cell Phone Expense Management

Last week I talked about our core telecom auditing process, but I left out one important area: cellular service. Mobile phones are GILL Technologies’ specialty; we handle everything from cellular expense management to procurement. I held off on that topic because I wanted to talk about it in detail — and that’s what I’m doing today.

We use the same three step process (cost audit, expense management plan, customer service presentation) for cell phone plans as we do for other telecommunications items, but a cell phone cost audit includes several unique factors:

Basic Plan Features: I look at basic inbound and outbound charges along with core features like texting and Internet. Modern cellular service plans are feature-heavy — and charge-heavy, too. Service providers present these packages individually, but I use our internal clues to audit them from a global perspective. That way, I can compare the costs per service for various combinations.

Data/Smartphones: Blackberries, 3G Phones and other mobile data devices go beyond the traditional role of the cell phone as a land line analog. I fit the capabilities of different devices and carriers to the client’s needs.

Pooling Cell Phone Plans: I track pooled minutes, down to the minute — something carriers often rely on you not doing. We find pooling plans where clients use their minutes efficiently.

US Roaming Charges: Roaming charges are always important, but they additional complexity in many US states. Roaming plans can cut across a host of carriers, each of which have distinct benefits and drawbacks.

Once I have all the information, it’s time to match it usage trends. Cell phone plans are complicated, but the complexity can be an advantage. Service providers set the standard of counting charges down to the minute. Thanks to that, I can track use patterns with precision. Once I estimate what a company’s needs are I can pick appropriate plans.

In many cases, the ideal solution will change depending on the department or individual, but we know how to manage multiple carriers and plans for our clients. One of the advantages of cell phone expense management is that your company can save money using methods that would be too logistically challenging to implement in-house. The best solution is the easiest — when you get us to take care of it for you.

About the Author: Ted Washburn is a telecom expense management analyst at GILL Technologies.

How Telecom Audits and Telecom Expense Management Work

Everyone can take simple steps to reduce their personal phone expenses but when it comes to business telecommunications you need expert help. I perform telecom audits according to a procedure GILL Technologies has perfected over years of analysis. Telecom expense management is a multifaceted process, but to give you a look at how we do things in the office I’ll break it down to three primary steps:

Telecom Audit

The first rule of an audit is “get the data.” We keep an up to date record of available telecom service packages from all major carriers. Core telecom expense management focuses on these services (and more – like I said, it’s complicated!):

Landlines: What are the client’s basic service options? Is it in his best interest to go VoIP? We don’t just blindly choose the cheaper option because every client has particular service needs. At the same time, once we do know those needs, it helps us zero in on the most cost-effective solution.

Long Distance: There are so many long distance packages around that it’s hard to find the right choice for even basic consumer needs, much less those of a busy corporation. Once again, the answer lies in the client’s usage patterns. (This aspect of our process is so important that we developed proprietary software to master it — but that’s a story for another post.)

International: Don’t confuse this with ordinary long distance! Businesses’ international usage patterns aren’t the same as their continental long distance habits, and the fees are quite different, too. For some companies, international service is a non-issue; others call the other side of the world more often than locations in their home city.

Internet: Once again, usage and available services determine the best strategy. Some companies are web-centric enough to make this an entirely separate communications item — even the biggest communications expense of all.

Telecom Expense Management Proposal

After we compare available services with the clients needs and usage patterns, it’s time to formulate a plan. I create at least two proposals for every client. One of these is typically a conservative plan that sticks with the existing carrier. The others are a bit more adventurous. Even a basic plan can include room for improvement, however. We might tweak an agreement slightly or discover billing errors.

(Actually, I find a lot of billing errors on the job. To err is human, but to really screw things up, you need a phone company. Since 2006 we’ve discovered over $170,000 in erroneous charges. Strangely, the phone companies rarely make the mistake of charging too little . . . )

Telecom Customer Service Presentation

At some point, somebody has to turn my gigantic spreadsheet, a sheaf of printouts and a collection of research notes into a something that keeps our clients informed about their options. That’s where our telecom customer service experts come in. They distill the telecom expense management audit into a strategy proposal everyone can understand. Once the client knows his options and picks the one that fits his business best, we move to the ongoing management phase.

Hey! What about Cellular?

Cellular expense management is actually our specialty, so next week, I’m going to give it its own article. Stay tuned!

About the Author: Ted Washburn is a telecom expense management analyst at GILL Technologies.

5 Tips To Reduce Your Company’s Communication Expenses

Second only to Payroll, communications is the largest expense facing most businesses today. GILL Technologies is a solutions firm that specializes in helping businesses to manage their communications expenses and reduce over all costs by up to 50%. Below are 5 tips for reducing your company’s communications expenses.

1. Check Your Bills for Errors: This tip is so obvious that many companies overlook it. In fact, companies typically overpay six to eight percent on their telecommunications invoices because of billing errors. The most common problems are circuits that have been disconnected but have continued to be billed, and invoices that do not reflect new, lower rates.

2. Renegotiate your contracts: If your telecom contract is set for automatic renewal, you might be cheating yourself out of a better deal. Talk to other providers and see if they can beat the price you’re currently paying or can offer more services for the same price.

3. Consider VoIP: You’ve probably heard the buzz around Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). It’s already taking the enterprise world by storm, and adoption among small and mid-size businesses is gradually increasing. VoIP enables you to use your data network — which you already use to access the Internet — to place phone calls. It can be more cost effective than owning your own private branch exchange (PBX), not only because the equipment is cheaper, but also because you can make many of your calls without ever using the public switched telephone network or paying for long distance.

4. Assign appropriate plans for cell phone users: Avoid small business cell phone plans that offer more minutes than your employees actually use. If they need to make more phone calls at certain times of the year – like during trade show season, peak sales visit periods, or other special projects – consider buying more minutes during those times or carrying forward minutes from previous months. That way, you aren’t paying bloated prices year round.

5. Use conferencing instead of traveling: Conference Calling has quickly become a popular system of business-related communications. Company representatives may now promote their product or service and present business proposals to remote clients without need for actual travel and the incident expenses of lodging and utilities. Aside from money, the company’s time is also used more efficiently since scheduling conferences over the phone can be done by just dialing the phone. This can be used in conjunction with Web Conferences as well.

For most companies the above suggestions can be quite daunting and expensive to handle internally. Outsourcing the management of telecom, data, wireless and new technology costs, can often be your best solution. For information on how GILL Technologies can help in the areas of communications expense audits, management and reporting, and a dedicated ClientCare support team, contact us at 1-877-507-6988 or visit us online at www.gill-technologies.com

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