Telecom Expense Management & Keeping Your Communications Expenses Under Control!

With a change in economic times, there often requires a change in some business practices too. Cutting back in business expenses is often a necessity to staying cash flow positive, and what is an organizations largest expense … Payroll? Where should a company cut back? Reducing staff to lower expenses is not always required; there are definitely other methods to manage expenses without risking great employees, and team moral.

 

What other Expense is right up there close to Payroll? You got it your Telecom Expenses. Many say that the second largest expense for businesses is their communications expense –second only to Payroll. This can include; Telecom, Long Distance, Toll Free, Data, Mobility, Wireless, Blackberry Smartphone, PDAs, … the list goes on and you get the picture. Today they are a necessity and so you say, what can be done? Ah you see; that is where a Telecom Expense Management (TEM) solution can help!

 

The need for support in managing this complexity and cost has never been greater. Your Telecom Expense Management solution should include:

  • Billing & usage analysis tools
  • Easy access Reporting, with details needed to make good Business decisions
  • Management of contracts with all communications operators/carriers
  • Procurement & Management of all mobile/wireless devices / data applications / service (airtime)
  • Procurement & Management of all Telecom/Data requirements
  • Support help desk – for management and end users of all communications – Single Point of Contact

 

To start the process you should conduct a Telecom Audit. Whether you do it yourself with in your organization or you enlist a TEM specialist to do a cost free analysis, an Audit is still a good start. Essentially a Telecom Audit is an examination of all your Company’s Mobile and Telecom Accounts, Expenditures and Services for the purpose of checking and verifying their accuracy.

Telecom Audits also ensure that your wireless/telecom providers are complying with the original contracts that you put in place. In addition Audits confirm that you are not being overcharged, they identify hidden costs that you may not be aware of and of course billing errors. By conducting a Telecom Audit you are also ensuring that your organization is not being billed for lines that are no longer in use, whether they be internal land lines or lost/misplaced mobile devices. This can sometimes be a time intense task, but the savings are the end goal – a great way to cut back expenses.

 

If this is not your area of expertise, you may want to Consult an Expert on Telecom Expense Management and let them take on this daunting task.

 

A cloud based Telecom Expense Management solution gives your organization the information it needs to promote cost savings today, tomorrow and well into the future with accountability, visibility and simplicity.

What is Telecom Lifecycle Management?

Telecom lifecycle management is a hot topic in companies with mid to enterprise level telecommunications needs ranging from wireless phones to landlines and internet. What is it? Why is it essential to modern telecom expense management?

telecom expense management cycle

Tele-Watch's system audits and adjusts the entire usage and billing cycle

This January, the Aberdeen Group published “Recovering with Telecom Lifecycle Management,” a report that details the advantages of this method and how it can help drive a company’s re-emergence into the economy after the last two difficult years. According to the report, best in class service resulted in a 16% reduction in telecom spend on services that covered 45% of employees with advanced communications (such as smartphones and video).

Saving 16% on some of the most expensive telecom services is certainly nothing to sneeze at! But how does it work?

A 360 Degree Approach

Traditional telecom expense management deals with everything from wireless to long distance as if its needs have “fallen out of the sky.” The client has a number of phones, carriers and services in play and it’s the job of a telecom audit to find flaws and errors, research the field for better solutions and apply them as much as possible.

Where traditional telecom expense management reacts, telecom lifecycle management acts. Telecom lifecycle management is a holistic approach that starts with sourcing and procuring the most appropriate hardware for business functions at the best price. Lifecycle management applies appropriate carriers, plans and policies, and tracks every handset and service from its beginning to end. Tracking includes traditional telecom expense management functions such as bill monitoring and cost management. When service is necessary, telecom lifecycle management gets it done. Experts plan upgrades and service changes along with the gradual reassignment, recycling and replacement of each unit.

Perfecting the Cycle

This program results in constant improvements in cost efficiency and quality. The cycle of procurement, monitoring, service and replacement includes data collection and analysis of all aspects of company communications. Telecom managers apply this information to the next cycle, selecting appropriate hardware, services and agreements based on the most comprehensive, up to date information. This virtuous cycle of self correction provides the best possible solution.

Technology Managed Through Technology

Telecom lifecycle management depends on accurate, information that can be sorted, connected and applied to management decisions. This requires a specialized application, which is why it’s the newest telecom expense management method. Tele-Watch is our technology for lifecycle management, and it not only tracks data for telecom experts, but for non-specialist managers as well.

Get to Know Your Canadian Carriers

Since 2008’s Advanced Wireless Spectrum Auction there’s been a great deal of excitement about new carriers coming in to compete with Canada’s “Big Three” of Bell, Telus and Rogers. This is sure to open up new telecom expense management opportunities and might just lead to lower prices overall for Canadians. With lukewarm competition at best, the Canadian wireless industry inflicted some of the highest prices in the developed world for core services, offering little advantage between carriers beyond occasional coverage considerations.

Canadian Telecom Expense Management

Not all Canadian carriers are who they appear to be

If you’re a Canadian wireless user, you may be wondering why we’re only talking about a handful of companies. What about the discount providers and other brands you keep seeing on TV? Aren’t they competitors? Nope. Most of them are Big Three brands or resellers. Here’s how it breaks down.

Bell Mobility: In Canada, Virgin Mobile is a Bell brand, used under license. Solo and PC Mobile are both independent resellers operating on Bell’s network.

Telus: Koodo Mobile is Telus’ discount brand. Mike is a Telus brand that uses push to talk technology.

Rogers: Rogers resells to 7-Eleven, Petro-Canada and Sears. Its own discount brand is called Fido.

Bell, Telus and Rogers have designed their pricing to be comparable with each other (there is virtually no difference in pricing for similar data plans, for example) and to close loopholes that might be allowed if you purchased phone on one carrier brand and used it on another. Resellers must take their own costs into account with their rates, and the Big Three have managed to prevent deep discounts from that source.

Fortunately, careful telecom expense management can find the best plan for a company based on its desired handsets, services and location – specifics that vary enough to create savings compared to simple head to head comparisons.

But competition is coming. WIND Mobile and now Public Mobile have thrown down their gauntlets to compete, shunning the Big Three’s traditional contracts and rates, but they currently have small coverage areas outside of a few major cities. How do they compare?

WIND Mobile has a limited number of phones available because it uses the Advanced Wireless Spectrum, and its coverage is currently limited to the Greater Toronto Area along with the Ottawa and Calgary regions. It is expanding, however, and phones can be used in “away zones” covered by Rogers for additional fees. WIND offers unlimited data and other benefits, but these only provide real savings in coverage areas.

Public Mobile is focused on basic consumer phones – it’s not set up for business use. Its coverage includes Windsor, Toronto and Quebec City, with more additions on the way. Due to its basic, consumer focus, it probably isn’t the right choice for most businesses.

More carriers can only mean more choice, competition and savings in the Canadian market, so we welcome new players, even if we wouldn’t necessarily recommend them.

Telecom Expense Management vs. Telecom Audits: Tracking the Industry

Telecom Audits and Expense ManagementThrough Tele-Watch, GILL Technologies specializes in complete telecom expense management solutions. Telecom audits are part of the telecom expense management process, but many people think that’s the whole thing. An auditor looks through your bill, for errors and other issues, and gets them corrected. Simple! Unfortunately, while a pure telecom audit helps, it doesn’t get you the best cost reduction on wireless or other telecom billing.

"Telecom expense management means more than auditing phone bills"

One of the key differences you’ll find by opting for a 360 degree telecom expense management service such as Tele-Watch is its ability to take advantage of opportunities in an evolving telecommunications industry. The industry is constantly changing, and just looking at your bill, while helpful, won’t provide the best cost reduction opportunities. For example, while auditing your bill weeds out unneeded expenses based on contracts offered by your current carrier, but what if someone new comes in with a better deal? Canadian businesses are currently experiencing this in the wake of last year’s Canadian wireless spectrum auction. The old “big three” acquired as much spectrum as possible and swallowed other purchasers, but they couldn’t get everyone. That’s opened the door for new players such as WIND Mobile. Like many of the new wave of carriers, WIND is currently building its network from centers in Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. Other new carriers are only now setting up their infrastructures, getting hardware and planning their pricing. In Canada, carriers have never been particularly competitive so there’s plenty of room for innovation and price slashing. Expect to see better pricing, more unlimited plans and better contract terms. These won’t just come from new players, either; established carriers will have to improve their contracts to match their competitors.

A telecom audit may ensure your billing improves by the standards of your current plan, but true telecom expense management tries to get you the best rates available in the entire industry. We do that by keeping abreast of the industry for new developments. When we spot these opportunities we can provide a range of options, or just automatically implement the most cost effective without changing your phone numbers of services. While your bill will be audited, we can also perform migrations between carriers and renegotiations so that your company can take advantages of the latest developments in the industry.

 

Mobile Management Goes Hands Free – It’s the Law

Bluetooth for Hands Free WirelessMobile management is a mandatory part of any company that puts employees on the road. This goes beyond wireless cost reduction into the basics of day to day operations, including how and when staff make wireless calls in the field. Across Canada, these businesses need to wake up to a new requirement: hands free calling. Last year, PEI, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia all enacted laws against hands on wireless calls while driving. Here at GILL Technologies, we handle upgrades and procurements for clients through our ClientCare service. We pursue bulk orders through select suppliers to get the best prices on new hardware such as Bluetooth sets, but more importantly we know how to make the hardware fit with your phones, and whether you’ll need additional services (such as voice activation) to build a seamless solution.

We also provide carrier liaison and technical support to make the transition as easy as possible. If you need upgrades to comply with the new rules, contact usand don’t wait. The Saskatchewan and BC bans went into effect on January 1st, 2010 the PEI ban hit on January 23rd, and Ontario’s legislation went into full effect this week. A growing awareness of the way hands-on wireless habits affect roads safety makes it likely that the ban will eventually turn universal. Many US states are also likely to adopt stringent regulations, or reinterpret existing rules to clamp down on hands on mobile use. If your workforce is on the road it’s time for you to invest in Bluetooth headsets and other tools to allow legal, hands free calling. While jurisdictions may apply new rules in various ways, we recommend going with a totally hands free calling solution that includes a combination of Bluetooth and voice activated features. Some hardware now allows for hands free text and email, with a device reading these items to you. No matter the exact requirements, the important thing is to remember that these new regulations exist for a reason: Studies have shown that driving while distracted by a phone call (and believe it or not, texting, email and smartphone use, as some foolhardy drivers actually access these on the road) is equivalent to driving while moderately to severely impaired by alcohol. In other words, if you’re using your hands, you’re as dangerous as a drunk driver. Going hands free is the legal, responsible choice – and it’s important to avoid liability in case one of your employees has an accident on the road. If a staff member gets caught with a company phone, no headset and evidence that he or she was in the middle of a hands on call . . . well, to say that’s bad for you would be an understatement.

International Calling Pushing Your Phone Bill Off the Chart – Skype It

With all of todays technology there is really no reason why telecom costs need to stay in the red. Skype is an immediate technology that can reduce International calling costs as noted by TechCrunch "Skype now accounts for 12% of all international calling minutes". Businesses and individuals can immediately reduce costs with nothing more than a technology change. In fact to incorporate all internal communication a company will not only benefit from reduced long distance over all but improved efficiency too. If there is any negative to incorporating Skype it would be in the quality of the call. This is always a concern whenever you begin to implement any VoIP solution. Internally we at GILL Technologies have found the call quality to be excellent 9 out of 10 times. The 10th time is not a big deal when considering businesses have become accustomed to lower quality of service (QOS) primarily due to the adoption of cell phones, being the primary communication tool for many. (A great reason for cell phone expense management – ok a plug). That being said I would recommend a gradual adoption to test the networks and overall satisfaction. Implement the service for internal calling to start, then expand into service calls. Once you are confident in the services (if that time comes) then unleash the full power and incorporate all calling. There is nothing worse than worrying about call quality when making a call, so build the comfort level. Prior to implementation; however, there are some guidelines that should be implemented and followed. Some things to consider are:

  1. Will the use of webcam be permitted
  2. What will the policy around webcam use be
  3. Set automatic away settings to an increment of 5 minutes
  4. Maintain status settings – i.e. when in a meeting set to "Do Not Disturb"
  5. Your identity picture policy if this is a concern
  6. Integration with outlook or other corporate mail
  7. Plug-Ins Policy – you may want to incorporate Recording Capability
  8. Wi-Fi Phones or Company IP Phones, or Soft Phones
  9. If Soft Phones – who will supply headsets

These are some of the things you may want to think about prior to unleashing instant communication in your organization. Over all, Skype is a great tool with thumbs up from us at GILL Technologies.

Mobile Management in 2010

Mobile management is a swiftly evolving field, where effective solution providers need to stay aware of the latest business, technology and regulatory trends to offer the very best services. At GILL Technologies we need to do a little more than just pay attention to products and billing, however, because we also offer technical and service support through our ClientCare program, where people like Amy and Tara help clients with everything from setting up a new mobile phone to migrating entire fleets to new carriers.

Now that 2010 is here and CES has come and gone, it’s time to talk about some of the new trends that will affect mobile management this year. Some of these developments promise to save money – and others represent new costs to control.

Android Phones: An explosion in wireless powered by Google’s Android OS has brought an explosion of choice into the cell phone market, as well as a powerful mobile management opportunity on the procurement front. Blackberry may still be the best for certain business functions but it and the iPhone aren’t the only practical choices any more. Key phones to watch include Motorola’s Droid (known as the Milestone in Canada) and the Google/HTC Nexus One. Beyond these there are dozens of new phones in all price ranges – and you may need professional mobile management to find the right one for you.

Carrier Competition: GILL Technologies provides mobile management solutions in both the US and Canada, so we took careful note when the government decided to permit WIND Mobile to operate in Canada. WIND’s bringing genuine competition to a market that’s been dominated by the “big three” of Bell, Rogers and Telus. WIND has thrown down the gauntlet with significantly cheaper wireless internet and competitive voice packages – but as of January 2010 it still doesn’t have a significant network outside of Toronto and Calgary. Competition is heating up in the US as well with the highly publicized advertising war between AT&T and Verizon over who really has the best 3G network.

Carrier-Subsidized Computers: Now that virtually every carrier offers mobile Internet, many have taken the next step and begun to subsidize netbooks and laptops with the purchase of a wireless Internet contract. This development will prove to be especially important this year as several companies release new devices designed specifically for this purpose. This includes the rumoured Apple iSlate tablet and several other computers with the tablet form factor. From a mobile expense management perspective, the challenge will be to help clients identify what they need out of these devices before finding ne that best fits the profile.

4G Internet: In Canada, Bell and Telus are cooperating to offer fourth generation (4G) mobile broadband. In the US, Verizon and Sprint have just begun to offer it in selected cities. From a mobile management perspective, the question is whether signing on for a 4G plan early meets a genuine business need, and whether competing carriers are offering a reliable, cost-effective service.

We’re looking forward to these challenges and opportunities in the year ahead. If you’d like to find out how we can help you with them from a mobile management perspective, Contact us.

Wireless Communication Management Rhyme – “Scrooge is in the house”

So another year has passed and a new one just begun filled with new opportunities, but survival is the one we focus on. We must justify our roles and the easy target is our communications – for with no communications – there is no business. Present day communications management has become far more complex, the costs have escalated, and day to day management is potentially the most painful part of all. As we sit around the data room, we wonder if there will be a day again where we can be the heroes we once were – in charge of all that RAM, Routers, and terminals. Enjoying our superiority of technology; however, before we get too lost in all our memory bliss, tonight is a special night– a new decade and a new fiscal year is upon us. Budgets, efficiencies, new technology, and growth all in front of us but unlike other decades past we wonder exactly what the future holds. Fear not for tonight is a special night; tonight your IT Departments will be visited by three ghosts. The first, the ghost of technology past, followed by the ghost of financial reality preparing us for the ghost of leadership tomorrow.

GhostThe First Ghost

At the stroke of midnight Johnny Menclub our old IT Manager clatters through the walls with chains dangling.

[Johnny] “Hello gentleman – and gentle ladies, it’s been a long time. I miss those old days of camaraderie and cheer. You know the ones where all the technology was so complex it took engineers to keep us on track.”

[IT Department] “Yeah Johnny, you were the best. We had awesome jobs. We baffle everyone with gigabytes, and microwave transmissions. We were gods. We could do no wrong. “

[Johnny] “Yeah boys, those were the good days – ‘they’ needed us. We were indispensible. But I’m here to warn you, be careful gentleman – the times have changed and its rough out there – I don’t want you to end up like me – you need to re-invent your place…..”

Johnny is sucked back from the matrix he came from.

[IT Department] That was creepy – poor Johnny he was a good lad. But he’s right. Technology has changed. User friendly applications are standard and that damn mouse can help solve anything.

The Second Ghost

With little time to recover Stacy Query appears our current CFO as if in a bad dream. She is the one who changed everything – now all we hear is how we must drive costs down, yet management keeps adding feature rich functionality and data costs are climbing. Somehow Stacy thinks it our fault!

[Stacy] “I can hear you, she bellows. Of course it’s your fault, you’re responsible for technology and wireless cost management is technology. You should be keeping costs in check”

[IT Department] “Our fault?!?!? How can it be our fault? We’re not accountants. We keep the technology of this company advancing giving us cutting edge solutions and keeping us ahead of the competition. How were we suppose to know your sales and marketing team would start utilizing data and cellular devices to drive growth in the company”

[Stacy] “Well if you were giving me the data I needed to know where costs were increasing, what was valid and what was abuseareas, we could curb costs while keeping your gadgets running – then I could use that information to empower our organization for growth”

[IT Department] “Wait a second since when is it our job to fill out spreadsheets – and who has the time – we’re busy supporting all the users who can’t seem to read manuals. If we had implemented some Cellular Procurement Policies in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

[Stacy] “Well all I know is I’m not taking the blame for these rising costs. The carrier’s will just have to help us.”

Stacy melts in a pool of red ink.

[IT Department] “Anyone know why the carrier would help us reduce costs and in turn their revenue, huh! So now we’re suppose to implement new hardware, manage costs, negotiate contracts, complete spreadsheets, discover abandoned assets…..who’s getting dinner”

The Third Ghost

With a ray of light and warmth filling the room – Dave Ceokata appears…

[Dave] “Fear not my team there is a better way, a way accounting can get their wish of tighter costs, Operations getting improved efficiencies, and IT smoother day to day operations allowing for the time needed to ensure our company stays on the technology cutting edge.”

[IT Department] “But how is this possible Dave? We have tried to manage but things are changing so fast, carrier plans seem to change every month, user device application and adoption is growing weekly, hardware is getting more costly and gosh dangit – Communications is the lifeline.”

[Dave] “Your right team, communications is the lifeline, and it’s why we have to ensure our team is over seeing it. But not buried by it. We need to find the professionals who can produce monthly wireless cost audits keeping the cost under control and are independent from our carriers – thus who will work for our benefit – I know there is savings to be had! We need a support team, who can handle the day to day user queries, and get you guys off hold with the carriers. Finally we need communication management software that can provide us the Intel, to ensure corporate compliance to policies, eliminate defunct units, and produce quality feedback helping us grow maximizing our communications as the tools they were meant to be.

[IT Department] Does this dream exist?

[Dave] Ah yes the dream exists team. In fact in less than 30 days we could be saving money, have superior visibility, and user bliss with single point of contact support and procurement. Go now team, implement the solution, over see it and create bliss through our organization. Be the heroes I know you can be!

Three Ways Tele-Watch Saves Clients Money

As we cover the official release of Tele-Watch, our comprehensive mobile phone management and general telecom expense management solution, we want to get down to brass tacks and tell you exactly why it works for existing clients (who’ve been using Tele-Watch in various forms over nearly three years of development) and why it can work for you. Let’s look at three of the ways Tele-Watch’s telecom savings software, experts and ClientCare staff routinely save clients up to 50% on their wireless costs.

Tele-Watch Detects Billing Errors

Billing errors run rampant through major carriers – and they’re rarely errors in your favor. Errors come from a host of sources, from erroneously tabulated minutes to carriers applying a billing policy that doesn’t apply to your agreements. Tele-Watch software and auditing staff monitor your bills for errors, administer corrections and apply refunds to error-ridden bills. All you have to do is read the reports after logging in to Tele-Watch’s cloud reporting. We perform all of the management tasks needed to correct (and reduce) your wireless costs.

Tele-Watch Makes Administration Simple

Telecom, and particularly wireless costs, represents the largest expense after payroll for many companies. Businesses are often reluctant to roll out a wireless phone fleet for staff use because they fear abuse and the challenged involved in tracking the ROI for legitimate use. Tele-Watch’s mobile phone management software allows you to track users, the user groups you define, and entire accounts for usage volume (minutes, data transfers, etc.) the type of use (such as voice, text or data) and the associated costs. You can find your heaviest users with a single click and examine their usage patterns.

This not only allows you to easy detect employee abuse, but gives you the tools to associate usage with specific business activities. You’ll know how every phone in your fleet gets used and why. Best of all, you can do it all through any device that features full internet access, from office computers to personal smartphones.

Tele-Watch Reduces Staff Time Spent on Wireless Issues

One of the biggest hidden wireless costs disguises itself in your payroll. That’s the time your staff spends calling carriers for tech support on a price of hardware, disputing suspicious charges, or asking questions about the services your company is entitled to. Tele-Watch ClientCare handles all of these tasks through direct one to one communication with a focus on providing you with the highest quality, least expensive solutions available. Our team provides on the spot hardware support and will contact carriers for you, take care of any issues with them and contact you with the results. No matter how many carriers or handsets you deal with, you only have to call one number and you never need to wait on hold with a carrier.

Tele-Watch Does More

Beyond these three examples, Tele-Watch does a whole lot more – it really is a total wireless cost solution. Analysts apply new savings based on the latest developments in the industry. ClientCare manages hardware procurement and upgrades on your behalf. Its mobile phone management software displays charts, graphs and other accessible data comparison methods, and can even manage internet VoIP and landline services. It all depends on your needs, because we developed Tele-Watch software and management solutions to respond to the needs of real businesses – organizations like yours who need telecom savings to prosper to their full potential.

We’re excited about the possibilities. We want you to get excited, too, so click here for a free 60 day trial to investigate Tele-Watch yourself.

Introducing Tele-Watch: Telecom Savings and Cloud Reporting

For nearly a decade, GILL Technologies has provided telecom savings and management solutions for businesses of all sizes, from international enterprise to smaller ventures. We specialize in controlling wireless costs. As telecom has evolved we’ve developed new and improved services, and now we’ve taken the next logical step: Tele-Watch.

Tele-Watch is our integrated cloud software and comprehensive service program, designed to provide clients with a total telecom expense management solution. We distilled years of client feedback and exhaustive testing into a system designed to meet their needs. As a result, we routinely save clients up to 50% or more on their mobile phone bills.

Tele-Watch harnesses a seamless combination of user-friendly software and in-house expertise based on these pillars:

Mobile Phone Management Software: Tele-Watch’s software side is a cloud-based service available to anyone with a web-capable device. After logging into Tele-Watch you can view your company’s complete billing and usage information. That includes records of your heaviest users, breakdowns by carrier and administrator-defined cost centers (such as branch offices and departments) and most importantly, records of billing errors and other savings opportunities.

Management in the cloud (that is, hosted remotely on a secure web server) means that you never have to employ your own IT or accounting department to install and maintain it. It also means that you don’t need to be at a particular computer or local server – just get on the Web. We handle all maintenance and updates, so all you have to do is provide billing information.

Tele-Watch software is optimized for mobile phone management, but includes tools for other telecom services, including land lines, long distance plans and internet.

Telecom Savings Analysis: Telecom analysts work hand in hand with our software to seek out savings opportunities in an evolving telecom industry. Analysts discover savings on your behalf and integrate them into your cloud reporting, providing continuous savings. We detect errors, unused entitlements and more cost-effective alternatives without forcing you to change your carrier, phone number, handset or services.

Tele-Watch ClientCare: Again and again, our clients expressed dissatisfaction with the level of service major carriers provided, so we developed “next level” customer service with ClientCare. Once you register with Tele-Watch, a ClientCare representative will provide:

  • Tech support for hardware.
  • Liaison services with your carrier so that you never need to wait on hold with them again.
  • Procurement services to help you upgrade and add handsets, headsets and other hardware in a convenient, cost-effective fashion.

Try Tele-Watch now. Head to http://www.tele-watch.com to request a demo or a free 60 day trial. For a detailed walkthrough of the Tele-Watch solution, head to http://www.gill-technologies.com/visibility.php.