Telecom Auditing and the Spreadsheet of Doom

Our Communications Management Software is one of the core tools we offer to telecom expense management clients. Let me tell you how we brought a professional cost management tool to the public and why.

We track everything that can be tracked, down to individual cell phones. That means we’ve always needed a way to organize very large amounts of data dynamically. By 2006, commercial tools weren’t cutting it. Excel disintegrated beneath the sheer number of, well, numbers we use. I wasn’t about to solve this problem by skimping on detail.

We’d experimented with in-house reporting software as far back as 2003, before “telecom expense management software” became a well-known category. We revived the idea to supplement our increasingly unwieldy spreadsheets. We just wanted a way to organize all the data we need to provide the best telecom expense management solutions — and to have the best, you need to see as much of the big picture as possible.

We had that up and running in 2007. It worked well — well enough to expand it into an analysis tool, too. The results were so powerful that we decided to share it with out clients. I think this is what really makes our service stand out from other TEM applications. We designed this for professional telecom expense management. Now that it helps us track cellular and telecom figures, I can do a few clicks and tell you this:

  • We’ve proposed approximately 13 million dollars in cost audit savings over the past four years.
  • We’ve managed 19 million cell phone plan minutes this year.
  • Our clients use an average of 230 minutes per phone, per month.

It only took me a few seconds to figure this out. If you sign on with us, you’ll have access to the same tools. Our Telecom Management Software runs on a web interface, so you don’t have to install anything. Anyone can use the easy, single-click interface — and it sure beats a clunky spreadsheet.

About the Author: John Parks is Expense Management Operations Manager for GILL Technologies.

How Telecom Audits and Telecom Expense Management Work

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

Telecom Audit

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

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

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

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

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

Telecom Expense Management Proposal

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

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

Telecom Customer Service Presentation

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

Hey! What about Cellular?

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

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

Telecom Management: Perfecting a Medium

Welcome – and welcome back! This entry marks the official inauguration of our site revamp. Thanks to sister company GILL Media we have a new virtual home. Our web presence is part of the bigger picture of communications management. Like any other aspect of our business, we’re always reevaluating and refining how we do things.

One insight we’ve learned from this is that an office is a multifaceted communications environment. This applies to the medium and the message. Even in a world where you’re immersed in networked communications, we know there are times where traditional telephony is your first (though by no means your only) choice. It’s not just a matter of nuts-and-bolts convenience; it’s about style, too. You might love texting, for instance, but when you want to convey a certain message, there are times a pure, unembellished voice is the only way to go.

Similarly, our site provides a comprehensive introduction to what we do, but the web demands more: dynamic, concise content that relays the basic facts in a conversational tone. That’s what this blog is about.

Our watchwords – Visibility, Accountability and Simplicity – go beyond technique. We know that every communications medium you use is an essential social channel. Each one needs to be reliable, cost-effective and constantly evolving to fit its niche. When you have a Visible, managed telecom system, your conversations aren’t tinged with anxiety over unanticipated expenses. You don’t need to guess at remaining minutes and charges. Accountability shows you the most efficient tools for a particular department, and the Simplicity of single-point customer service keeps you focused on the job – not on billing and technical issues.