Businesses Ask – Should we handle our Telecom Expense Management Internally?

As simple as one might think Telecom Expense Management might be; be aware that there are many Challenges of Internally Managing your Communications Audits & Expenses.

 

 

  • Today Businesses seem to use multiple carriers for different services that all use different invoicing formats. With this in mind, such invoicing makes it difficult to match and allocate costs accurately and effectively.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Generally in an Organization there is one person or a department dedicated to managing the company’s mobile fleet (while they maintain their other job functions), but they may not have a complete inventory of the company’s assets including wireless devices, Blackberry Smartphone devices,  Headsets, other hardware, etc. Devices get lost, upgraded, Staff leave & sometimes take their phones, new people are hired and need new devices, units get swapped, some are just left sitting unused, the list goes on and on.
  • While using multiple carriers for different services, internal difficulties may arise in being able to apportion telecommunications costs to divisions, teams or departments with any accuracy.
  • Do you understand all of your costs? You can’t control the cost of something when you don’t understand how it is billed or what you are getting for your money. Telecom carriers have their own language and unless you can speak it, you could be over billed.
  • Not all Organizations have the resources to manually audit each invoice. Did you know in the telecom industry that 7-12% of bills consistently contain errors and/or overcharges?

 

A  full Cost Audit handled by professionals with a proven system, can identify opportunities for immediate savings and areas of improvement for the long term. Best of all, our systems and team of analysts will do the work for you, so your Organization can benefit with a multitude of savings; saving time and resources for other projects internally as well as bottom line Cost savings for your Communications.

 

Let our teams be your translator to interpret and verify your telecom charges for accuracy; today, tomorrow and the future. Along with our cloud based Telecom Expense Management solution we will give your organization the information it needs to promote cost savings with accountability, visibility and simplicity.

Telecom Lifecycle Management (TLM) – A good Business Decision!

Telecom Lifecycle Management (TLM) is being able to offer businesses more than just cost management.

  • Businesses need to understand their current communications infrastructure and capabilities.
  • Next they need help in road-mapping their telecommunications structure with emphasis on the technologies they would like to encompass to keep up with the growing demands of their organization.
  • With the investigative details taken care of; it’s then easier to align those communications technologies wants and needs with an ongoing strategized program including Telecom Expense Management (TEM). 

The lifecycle management of telecom in simplified terms is the complete management of companies’ Telecom Communications from beginning to end. Companies today need to have complete visibility to their telecom and network inventories to make appropriate communications decisions.

When outsourcing for Telecom Lifecycle Management solutions your organization should be looking for a Solution that offers your business the following:

  • Unbiased ordering/procurement of quality telecom services
  • Auditing, for current & future savings, along with billing errors (past, present & future)
  • Contract negotiations/re-negotiations
  • Expense management tools and reporting
  • Procurement & Implementation
  • Client Care support / Help Desk support
  • A single Point of Contact to work with your providers/carriers, the interconnects/technicians, and your team to provide, plan, implement & maintain the management of your telecom lifecycle.

No other service like telecom expense management can keep your organization costs in control on an ongoing basis, with accountability, visibility and simplicity.

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.

Think Twice Before You Add Palm Phones to Your Fleet

Mobile management is more than just picking the lowest prices or the best handsets. Consider the case of Palm products.

The Palm Pre was an extraordinary smartphone. The Pre Plus is even better. On the surface, both are worthy executive level phones with a unique OS and look that combined functionality and style. The Palm Pixi is a fun little phone for basic tasks – not great for core business activities, but it looks like might be good as a pure perk. Right now, the Pre and Pixi are incredibly cheap, so wouldn’t it keep costs down to pick them?

Palm Pre Mobile Management

The Palm Pre is a bargain for consumers -- but not the best for business.

Well I’ve given it away in the article title, but the sad answer is “no.” Yes, the Palm Pre is an excellent phone that carriers are offering for nothing on selected plans, but Palm is ailing. Its stock plummeted 19% on Friday March 19th, and may be worthless soon. CNN Money quoted one analyst as saying Palm is in a “death spiral.” This matters to end users because if Palm falls apart, that means you’ll be left with no upgrades, up to date support or new applications – and that’s not where you want to be with a contract. That’s a serious mobile management consideration.

What happened? Blackberries were the original smartphones before there was even a smartphone category, and are still the go-to phone for business use. The iPhone is in a league of its own. It can be customized for virtually any task by loading the right Apps, though many people probably use it for style and fun, not business. A past pioneer in the dying PDA category, Palm was ideally positioned to enter the smartphone category that replaced PDAs. Despite a few hiccups in the hardware and a foolish war with Apple over iTunes synching, the Pre looked ready to make Palm a third big player, bridging the gap between the too-serious Blackberry and the style-fixated iPhone.

Then Android hit. Palm couldn’t compete with an open OS that might not have been innovative, but was cheap to implement on a variety of handsets in all price categories, right up to the Droid, (Milestone in Canada) a phone obviously competing for the over $100 digital assistant niche. Android might be a poor fit for some handsets, but it will always cost less to implement, and the wave of Android phones creates a situation where once users will become familiar with the OS on one phone they’ll be comfortable with any handset that has an Android installation.

Palm’s tried to move forward with gaming and rich media applications in the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, but even if they save themselves, they’re doing it by attacking a niche with little relevance to business users. Either way, Palm phones aren’t the right choice for your company’s mobile fleet, no matter how far their prices drop. Good mobile management thinks about your interests across a phone’s entire lifecycle – not just at the point of purchase.

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.

 

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.

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.