Telecom expense management is a multifaceted process

Telecom expense management

Corporate communications networks are costly and difficult to manage today than ever before. It has been found that the telecommunications spending area is wrought with inefficiency among organizations (the difference between ‘average’ and ‘competitive’ rates is as much as 40%). A staggering 80% of telecoms bills include hidden charges or incorrect billing.

Incorrect billing results in 10- 15% overcharges – Gartner Dataquest

In this competitive world, it is important for businesses to carefully manage their telecommunication costs. Telecom Expense Management (TEM) is a comprehensive approach to controlling what is one of the greatest expenditures in many businesses. It is a business approach to manage telecommunication service expenses (voice, data, and wireless) with a combination of software tools and manual auditing.

Telecom expense management is actually a multifaceted process. The basic telecom expense management activity is a cost audit that determines possible savings. This cost audit reduces the monthly service costs of your organization by up to 50% (average 32.8%). In manual auditing the auditor performs research and comparisons himself, while utilizing software applications like Tele-Watch to assist. Software auditing involves the use of specialized software tools designed to aggregate usage and billing data. In-cycle analysis involves ERP-class analytic tools to automatically reconcile detailed billing elements to service inventories and contracts/tariffs prior to payment processing.

A complete telecom expense management solution looks at the industry as a whole to find the best carrier for your needs. For example, one carrier may provide excellent rates for fleets of phones providing basic talk and text service, while another might be the best for 3G wireless Internet. Telecom experts need to keep up to date on the latest rates and agreements available from every carrier to provide the best possible savings. They are involved in detailed tracking by unit to detect employee misuse and inactive units. This helps in cutting down the unnecessary expenses.

Telecom expense management helps reduce the costs by finding cost effective sources for new hardware and upgrades such as smart phones and Bluetooth headsets. TEM provides you a detailed review of all your communication costs to keep your organizations telecommunication costs in control on an ongoing basis. It provides visibility into your costs enabling you to perform informed business decisions.

There is no risk involved in using the services of a TEM firm as it guarantees net savings for your company. It goes a long way in reducing the operational costs and improving the efficiency of your organization.

 

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.

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!

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?

All about Internet Sticks

Mobile carriers across the US and Canada are pushing “internet sticks” – USB modems that provide access over their data networks – as a major new product. In Canada, all three major carriers (Bell, Rogers and Telus) provide internet access via the stick. Rogers’ “Rocket Mobile” is probably the best known promotion in Canada – but does it and other internet sticks stand up to a rigorous wireless cost audit?

Using an internet stick provides the same quality access as using the internet on a 3G+ cell phone for a laptop or netbook. Many of the hardware limitations of an iPhone or Blackberry that cause slow web browsing won’t be present. This means you can enjoy fair to good speeds on major carrier networks. Installation is simple on Windows PCs and Macs – just plug the stick into your USB port.

Internet Stick Pricing

Most providers give you the stick for free on plans with commitments of at least two years. Canadian carriers offer two types of plans based on fixed or flexible tiered data usage. On a fixed plan you’ll use a set data transfer limit – go above the limit, and you’ll pay per-volume charges on the excess. This can increase your bill dramatically, so take care to track your usage and unplug your stick when you’re not using it. A tiered plan kicks you to different fixed rates – higher than fixed data charges for the same rates – depending on the amount of data transfer.

Remember that as the modem uses your carrier’s network, its regional service quality is the same as for your smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, etc.). If you have a plan with roaming data service and this connects you to a third party network you may be in for additional charges, so be careful when you travel.

Generally speaking, the fixed plan is a better bargain if your internet usage doesn’t change much from month to month, but if it goes up and down quite a bit tiered plans are a better idea. Both types of plans usually range from $30 to $60 dollars per month plus system access fee (budget carrier brands that claim “no system access fee” push prices  up by the amount the fee would cost anyway).

Controlling Your Costs

If you go with an internet stick its cost effectiveness primarily depends on knowing your usage. If your usage patterns outside of Wi-Fi hot spots (where it’s unnecessary) are close to a particular data plan’s limit without going over too often it may make sense, but if you’re just at the lower limit of a package the cost per bit transferred can be rather expensive. Contact us with information about your usage and we’ll see about finding the right plan for you.

CRTC Urged to Deal with Telecom Fraudsters

Are carriers allowing fraudsters to attack third party providers?

Ottawa based long distance provider Telepath has asked the CRTC to step in and limit 1-900 service calls to $1000 without prior approval. This comes after Telepath, a line wholesaler, suffered $100,000 in fraudulent bills when hackers attacked two lines and used them to dial bogus pay per call numbers.

We’ve reported on carrier laxness regarding fraud before. Now someone has stepped up and plainly said that Bell, Rogers and other carriers can’t be trusted to protect clients from massive fraudulent billing. Of course that only makes sense – this kind of fraud doesn’t affect their bottom line. In fact, they’re adamant about getting paid. In Telepath’s case, Rogers is only willing to cut the massive bill by 20%. The provider may have to sue its clients for more.

In fact, Telepath’s claims read like a classic checklist of atrocious carrier service. Telepath CEO Dali Bertolila claims he noticed the fraud a couple of days after it occurred and called Rogers to stop payment. According to Bertolila, Rogers refused. So in this case, even client vigilance was useless. Worst of all, the Canadian Press article notes that Rogers claims that its can do nothing to monitor suspicious traffic patterns among third party providers.

Carrier interests appear to clash with the public good on several fronts in this case. When fraud hits, carriers like Rogers get paid. Furthermore, the big carriers know that third party providers exist in large part because of their problems, from erroneous billing to unsatisfactory service, so it’s kind of convenient that they can’t or won’t help in cases where hackers attack those providers. Telecom expense management and third party cellular customer service both exist because carriers won’t step up and provide the service and pricing people need. In this case, it seems to be obvious that Rogers, Bell and the rest are the last people to expect help from.

Four Reasons Why your Mobile Phones Leak Money

As your mobile phone bills pile up, ask yourself this: “Why are they so expensive?” The answer probably is not because this is simply how much your cell phone fleet costs. Understanding your cell phone plans is the first step to cost reduction. Over the years we’ve seen common problems crop up again and again. Here are four of them to consider the next time your bills arrive.

Billing Errors: Everybody makes mistakes, including major carriers like Bell Canada, Rogers, AT&T and Sprint. Some experts have found error rates as high as 30%. Carriers forget to include discounts, or charge you for pay per minute/unit services you never used. This is why a cellular expense management audit is such an important step in finding you savings.

Extra Units: When your employees leave or switch roles, what happens to their cell phones? In a surprising number of cases the answer is “nothing.” The phone still appears on your statement and still costs you money. In some cases, employees end up with two or even three units associated with them as they change roles, get new phones, and never get the new ones transferred or deactivated.

Inefficient Use: Some of your plans for the mobile fleet may not survive actual use. You imagine salespeople who constantly use voice and email to keep in touch with the head office, but it turns out that it’s more effective for them to compile all of their reports and send them from a computer. Some employees with company phones never even use them, and of course, there are always issues with employees misusing their phones. You can avoid this all with a regular usage breakdown by employee. Our telecom expense management software Tele-Watch does just that.

Unnecessary Services: Unnecessary services are a form of inefficient use. In these cases your staff uses company phones all the time – but they don’t take advantage of all of the features you’ve paid for. They don’t send email, or leave hundreds of unused minutes behind at the end of every month. Pooled minutes, customized plans and bundling can all help, as long as you know your options.

While you can combat many of these problems on your own, some of them require professional help. That’s why we’re here. Contact us for an initial telecom audit and we’ll show you how to plug up the “money leaks” in your current billing.

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.

Blackberry Takes Competition up a Notch with the App World

Blackberry opened its App World on April 1st, 2009, taking a leap into the kinds of personalized smartphone applications made popular by Apple’s iPhone. Now that competitors are rolling out touchscreen phones and people aren’t as dazzled by the style and technology, Apps are easily the most popular aspect of the iPhone. On the other hand, iPhone Apps tend to be more recreational than practical, in keeping with the phone’s popular image as a high tech toy. Blackberries have always been more business oriented. Will the App World reflect this?

Looking at App World’s featured Apps it looks like the initial rollout is designed to make new Blackberries full-featured internet devices. There are Apps for Facebook, AIM, Windows Live Messenger – all core internet applications. There are also news and entertainment media applications and even a few games, though these have a more serious focus than Apple counterparts. They’re the kinds of things that an executive wouldn’t mind being seen using during a break. They include business news, stress management games and tools to simplify travel.

The Blackberry’s serious image helps make it the first choice for enterprise-level smartphone procurement, and Research in Motion certainly little motive to change this, but there’s always the temptation of the wider consumer market, which models like the Curve have been steadily courting. Success will probably be found somewhere in between consumer fun and business utility because of the way people use company smartphones. The barriers between personal and business use are steadily eroding, as managers want employees to be constantly available, and employees want to use the phones they’re supposed to carry at all times for personal use.

For businesses though, the Blackberry still has one advantage: carrier flexibility. iPhones are wedded to exclusive plans in both Canada and the US, but every major carrier offers the Blackberry. This makes cellular expense management far more effective for the Blackberry. We can compare plans from multiple carriers using several metrics and find the best option for you – and with the App World, your on-call employees can get a few morale building applications, while you maintain total knowledge of their usage through our Tele-Watch Communications management software. They’re happier and you save money.

GILL Technologies on Twitter

We’ve finally made the leap to Twitter! Join GILL Technologies at http://twitter.com/GILL_Tech for daily updates on the telecommunications industry, telecom expense management, cell phone plans and services and other issues as we see them – along with anything else our official Twitterer thinks is relevant or interesting.

We’ve actually been aware of Twitter for some time. Our sister company GILL Media is a strategic internet marketing company that’s been researching and using Twitter for quite some time. In cost auditing and analysis, however, Twitter is not a tool, but a service we want interested clients to be able to use as inexpensively as possible. That’s why, for example, we covered the recent issues with Bell and Twitter.

Interested in telecom? Cell phones? Emerging communications technology? Add us – we’re always happy to meet someone new. If you have any questions about our company and its products or services, feel free to send them via Twitter and we’ll forward them to the appropriate department for reply. If your questions and comments are more than 140 characters, however, we recommend that you Contact us by our web form.