Mobile Expense Management – Keeping Up with your Wireless Fleet!

Mobile has become a critical element in productivity enhancements for Businesses. This has also lead to mobile charges becoming one of the top components of operating expenses for organizations. As more companies are adopting Blackberry/Smart Phones and other PDAs, it is becoming more imperative to stay on top of Mobile Management and Usage Policies.

What are your organization’s main Mobile-Wireless priorities?

  • Total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • International roaming costs /voice & data roaming
  • Procurement of hardware, contracts & plans for all mobile/wireless services
  • Customer support
  • Billing & Analysis tools
  • Management of devices on multiple mobile network operators
  • Remote access for staff working off site
  • Security
  • Device management
  • Exploiting unified communications & collaboration potential
  • Mobilizing data applications
  • On-site mobility
 

There is a true value in mobile expense management, along with the added support received in maintaining this complexity. Time and sanity are also saved when mobile device management is implemented into an organization.

 

Do you have someone in your organization that handles the day to day tasks of Mobile – is it YOU?

  • Updating your mobile inventory
  • Purchasing hardware for new employees
  • Cancelling or transferring devices of retiring or leaving employees
  • Upgrading devices due to loss or breakage
  • Swapping ESN’s / IMEI’s & SIM Cards
  • Keeping up with the latest accessories
  • Optimizing wireless plans
  • Auditing international roaming costs
  • Allocating expenses
  • Troubleshooting glitches and outages
  • Resetting voicemail
  • Adding new features
  • Fighting billing errors, escalating costs & unknown charges. 
Are you having FUN yet?
 

As you have guessed it or are already experiencing; managing the day to day mobile services can be a challenging endeavor for any organization. Determining the best optimal voice/data plans, and figuring out which devices & features suits the needs of individual employees and the organization are just the beginning of the managing process .

Don’t despair – it can be simplified, and streamlined.  Start with a plan of what you want to know. 

  • Start with reviewing your mobile bills for number of units being billed & used – remember some units may be expensed
  • Create a spreadsheet to track Mobile handsets, Blackberry devices, PDAs and other wireless devices currently in use by your organization as noted on your Wireless bills
  • Include in your spreadsheet, cell phone numbers, user name, type of handset, plans/features & of course costs
  • Determine Ownership of Inventory – some devices may be Company owned and others Expensed
  • Establish a Company Wireless Policy based on how you want to move forward with your Mobile Expense Management
  • If this is not your area of expertise, you may want to Consult an Expert on Mobile Expense Management
 

Cloud based Mobile Expense Management solutions give your organization the information it needs to promote cost savings with accountabilityvisibility and simplicity.

 

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.

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!

How to decide between a new Blackberry and the iPhone for your Business

This is a great question, especially with the growing popularity of the iPhone (even among enterprise) and the current market captured by the Blackberry. There are a couple of things to consider when making this important decision, whether you’re jumping ship or a newbie to the smart phone arena. I’ve divided the comparison into two categories, first functionality,
and second cost, certainly not in any order of importance as there is weight for both. But before we look at these two comparisons, why is it such an important decision? Well simply put, your phone has become a critical part of how you do business. With the added capabilities and features coming into play it is becoming even more important all the time.

Functionality:

So with functionality becoming increasingly important, this is where BlackBerry tends to be playing catch-up. Try a Google search on the two devices searching for applications and you quickly see a major short fall on BlackBerry. I find as a BlackBerry user myself looking to the iPhone or an Android as a potential solution to maximizing efficiency. That after all is what the functionality is for. To make my life more efficient, provide better service and give me more time to focus on other things. So as I dive into the applications on the BlackBerry to increase efficiency I am continuously

apple-iphone

running into brick walls. For example through my Google account I want to be able to access and sync my Gmail account. At best the Google application has many limitations. First syncing is not a true sync, such as draft emails don’t appear on my desktop until sent. The calendar function on the device is rudimentary at best. The ability to add a simple appointment for a specific time with details is impossible to date. Other functionalities such as Twitter applications put the device into cardiac arrest. Now with all this being said I am not looking for a device to tell me what tip I should leave, this I can handle. I’m speaking of everyday functions that keep me connected with my team, my customers, and on task. Unless I stay focused in my exchange environment (which is losing its attraction all the time) BlackBerry is losing its appeal.

Cost:

Once we get by the sticker shock of the hardware pricing – realizing these devices are so much more than just a phone – these devices are going to give me back time and efficiency, then we have the cost of operation to consider. This is where we see a big difference through our telecom cost audit and mobile management services on Tele-Watch. There is no doubt that these same wonderful applications that are increasing efficiencies are also driving up data costs to the carrier and soon if not already to the end clients. The iPhone in techy terms – is a pig – that’s a technical term. Now with talk of carriers taking away unlimited data in the US, and none really available (when you read the fine print) in Canada, this is a major concern. With BlackBerry costs fairly fixed and their data usage light, I at least know my costs and they are consistent.

With BlackBerry racing to catch up on applications, I will hold temporarily and see if the applications I need to be more efficient evolve soon. I hope this is not a wish unanswered.

Where do you stand on the iPhone and BlackBerry battle and has it worked out for you?

Why Offer a Communication Management Free Trial?

Why has a communications management firm that has offered telecom solutions for a decade decided to offer its proprietary management software on a free trial? It’s hard for me to write the answer without sounding like an advertisement, especially since as I write the reasons, it sounds like an ad to me – but that’s not the case. It all has to do with the evolving business climate in the US and Canada. We’ve adapted to it and want to help other firms do the same.

North American business has changed over the last year. At GILL Technologies, we’ve been very fortunate to have a loyal client base. Over the years, we’ve changed to respond to its requests for additional features and services and to keep GILL Technologies focused on best practices. In fact, what began as a cost audit company some 10 years ago has developed into much more. For example,  ClientCare (a component of our service) has become one of our most sought after services. Today, it’s one of the pillars of our business even though it really has little to do with the concept of cost auditing. By listening to our clients we discovered the value in being able to be their single point of contact for a technical support and services.

Tele-Watch evolved in much the same way. Companies need better control over their communications, period; most businesses will openly admit this. One crucial step to improve control is by acquiring timely, superior access to usage and spending information. This visibility gets crucial data to the right people in a timely fashion (not six months later). It drives accountability through the organization, because they know the nature of on what may be the largest business expense they face, as communications is quickly becoming one of the largest expenses possible for any company.

GILL Technologies responded with Tele-Watch: a proprietary software application hosted on the cloud and available from any web enabled device on a secure platform. Tele-Watch is absolutely amazing in how it presents important communications information. We developed it to let clients view their communications usage, expenses and services just the way they need to. Again, we improved a component of the service that really had little to do with the cost audit concept,  but again through our clients’ guidance we developed reporting tools that change the way a company manages communications.

So now, our challenge is to utilize what we created to grow our business. Bear in mind that our primary focus is to save companies money, however. We never want to lose sight of that mission. Tele-Watch is a software solution, but rather than take the typical approach of, “Let’s sell our software,” we made what I consider the bold statement of saying: “Lets give Tele-Watch to our prospective clients, let them feel the difference in single point of contact with ClientCare, and while this is occurring, show them how we can save them money. It’s a Win-Win-Win!”

OK, now I really sound like an advertisement! But when you think about our philosophy, it really makes sense beyond its raw promotional value. We save companies money. It’s our core mission. That’s why clients establish a relationship with us. Tele-Watch and ClientCare build relationships that last for years, if not indefinitely. So why not introduce people to the whole concept while we evaluate the benefit of the relationship in hard numbers?

That’s why we offer a Communication Management Free Trial, giving you the chance to sample our range of services as a prelude to securing long term savings and excellent service. I hope you can see beyond the sales pitch and appreciate the concept. I don’t know – did I fluff it up too much?

Like I said, North American business has changed, and you need the chance to make informed decisions, and today’s technology should allow it. Shouldn’t you able to test drive a service even at the enterprise level? What do you think?

Five Problems to Control with Telecom Expense Management

How does telecom expense management save you money? Any fleet of phones can accumulate cost inefficiencies. Some of these happen because of the way carriers bill customers. Others stem from making less than optimal choices about cell phone plans, long distance billing and other telecom services. Here are five common issues that a professional telecom cost audit and expense management program can remedy. Â

Billing Errors: Analysts estimate that billing errors alone can add 6%, 8% or more to your communications costs. These errors are hard to detect; it takes an expert to tell whether many fees have been legitimately added or properly calculated. GILL Technologies performs a thorough examination of your company’s billing as part of your initial audit, and stays on top of your bills to head of future errors.

Excess Minutes and Data: Our Tele-Watch communications management software is an important tool to show you exactly what your needs are. In many cases, people opt for attractive looking plans that offer a large amount of voice minutes or data, but when they fail to use them, these plans end up making their bills larger than they would have been if they’d picked a plan that represented their true usage. We can help you discover what your real communications needs are and adapt your choice of plan and carrier to match.

Hardware Costs: Is the plan that subsidizes your hardware costs really saving you money? What’s the right smartphone for you? What are the advantages of buying a cell phone outright? Where can you get inexpensive headsets? We can answer all these questions so that you only purchase the most cost-effective hardware. Our telecom customer service and procurement team will not only help you pick a solution, but can order the hardware on your behalf, often with a significant savings thanks to preferred relationships with select suppliers in North America.

Inappropriate Usage: Tele-Watch doesn’t just help you understand your company’s needs, but lets you see exactly how much every department and individual in your business uses company resources. When your employees know that you have this information it deters inappropriate usage, and when you need to act, you have all the data to define the issue in dollars and cents. Doing it this way is the path to responsible management that minimizes confrontation.

Roaming Fees: When you leave your carrier’s coverage area do you have reasonable roaming fees? Do you have a choice? If you’re a heavy roaming user we can help you find a carrier that offers the best prices for the areas you expect to visit. Furthermore, our telecom customer service team can help guide you when you visit Europe or another part of the world with different telecom standards. You’ll be able to go virtually anywhere without losing contact.

GILL Technologies Expands to Toronto

Toronto, ON, Canada: GILL Technologies (http://www.gill-technologies.com) announced today that it added an additional Telecommunications Partner office in Toronto, ON. The office will provide telecom expense management services, cellular cost auditing, client care, consulting and support to clients in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.

The office joins other certified Telecommunications Partner offices in Central Ontario and the US. Each office offers a consistent standard in telecommunications auditing, cost reduction, customer support and procurement. The core GILL Technologies service reduces client telecommunications bills as a self-funded service. Fees come from a portion of the savings so that clients’ total expenses are always lower. In addition, GILL Technologies manages migrations to new carriers, service plans and hardware, and serves as a single point of contact for technical support. Client profiles range from small businesses to enterprise-level clients with complex telecommunications needs.

GILL Technologies Partners are independent business owners that are trained and certified to a common standard. This authorizes them to provide GILL Technologies’ expertise in internet, landline and mobile communications. Partners Marcus Vandenbrink and Richard Carroll manage their Toronto office under the GILL Technologies brand.

“GILL Technologies is very familiar with the Canadian telecommunications industry,” said GILL Technologies president George Gill. “We’ve always wanted more feet on the ground in one of our core markets. There’s a strong demand for our services in the GTA, where many companies need 24/7 mobile communications at competitive prices. Growing our business is all about saving them money, and with a Partner office close at hand we’ll be able to do just that.”

Interested parties can find out more about GILL Technologies’ services by visiting http://www.gill-technologies.com, emailing info@gill-technologies.com or calling 877-507-6988 toll-free. GILL Technologies accepts clients from across Canada and the United States.

About GILL Technologies

Established in 2000, GILL Technologies provides a “Total Communication Solution” for businesses of all sizes. Clients range from small businesses simply looking to save on their communications costs to large enterprises that want comprehensive solutions. Over 3000 clients across North America bear witness to the effectiveness of GILL Technologies’ products and services.

Find out more about GILL Technologies’ communications services through its no-risk, money saving Cost Auditing service at http://www.gill-technologies.com/CostAudit.php

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.